The last time I blogged was a month ago. It was about tomatoes. As was the blog before that (sort of). Well I’m at it again: tomatoes. This time stuffing them into jars to be eaten once the last leaves have fallen from the trees in Fort Greene Park and my wool coat has reclaimed its place by the front door.

I recently returned from a 15-day trip around Turkey with a few new recipes under my belt, ones that have been passed down through generations in my boyfriend’s family. His sisters do the cooking, and do everything by hand, and do not own a single measuring cup or spoon. One thing they do each year is turn late-summer tomatoes into a sauce to be eaten year round. It’s quite simple: tomatoes, peppers, salt, and a bit of oil. They primarily use the sauce to make Turkish menemen (and egg-and-tomato dish like shakshouka).

When we left for Turkey the weather was hot, sticky, classic late August; when we returned last week early fall had descended on New York, with its warmish days but brisk mornings and chilly nights. Luckily we got back into town just to catch the tail end of tomato season. We bought these organic ones from Hepworth Farms at the Park Slope Food Coop for $1.26 a pound! If you can get bruised ones for cheap at your local farmers market that’s good too.

This recipe is not quite the rustic preserved tomatoes I made last year or the ones written about earlier this week in the New York Times. But it’s not far off either. In addition to menemen I’d love to eat this with pasta or polenta or in a vegetarian lasagna. And honestly, I can’t imagine I’ll wait til winter to try!



Preserved tomatoes, Turkish style

8 pounds tomatoes, preferably Roma
2 pounds long sweet peppers
1/2 cup oil
1 heaping tbsp salt

1. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise and puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Transfer the pureed tomatoes to a large stockpot on the stove. Bring the tomatoes to a boil.

2. Halve the peppers lengthwise and chop in a food processor until fine, but not pureed. (A food processor works much better for this than a blender which tends to just pulverize.) Without a food processor you can do this by hand it just takes a while—chop as finely as possible.

3. When the tomatoes are boiling add the peppers, oil, and salt and reduce to a simmer but keep the liquid bubbling. You want to reduce some of the liquid and create a sauce. So simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour until you reach the desired consistency of sauce.

4. Have your Ball jars or recycled glass peanut butter jars (what we used!) clean and sterilized (we boiled the clean jars in water for ten minutes and removed with tongs and air dried). Don’t let the sauce cool too much. Using a funnel, spoon the tomato sauce into the jars, filling almost to the top, leaving just the tiniest bit of room.

5. While still hot, put the lids on and flip the jars upside down. Leave for two days to ensure a proper seal. (This is the method my boyfriend’s family uses; you can also look on the internet for other methods to seal, namely submerging the jars in boiling water.)

Below is a photo of the beautiful village where we stayed for five days in the mountains of eastern Turkey, where my boyfriend grew up and his family still spends the summers. Bottom is me picking apricots in a neighboring village. I also saw pomegranate, lime, and fig trees during those two weeks. I’d definitely never seen a pomegranate tree before!