This past weekend, while driving home from a late summer swim, I saw an unusual sign for free tomatoes by the side of a back road. Unusual because here in Vermont, during the last few years, tomatoes have either been beset with blight or stunted from cool or rainy growing seasons, making the few that survived far too precious to give away.
Not this year. Overcome by abundance, gardeners have done their best to keep up with the glut–saucing, canning, freezing, pureeing, drying. Some, like the generous gardener with the roadside offering, have given up.
If you haven’t given up, and are looking for a new recipe for putting up the last of this summer’s tomato crop, you might try David Leite’s recipe for tomato jam (The New Portuguese Table, Clarkson Potter). Sweetened with a fair amount of sugar and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ruby port, and lemon zest, this jam builds on tomato’s natural fruitiness while retaining hints of its savory meaty or vegetal flavor.
I enjoyed it as a condiment for a bacon cheeseburger, with chèvre (Leite’s good suggestion), and the simplest, and my favorite way, as a spread for buttered bread or toast with morning coffee. However you eat it, pair it something with sharpness or tartness (like chèvre) or something salty to complement its sweetness. (So be sure to butter your bread with salted butter.) To try the recipe, pick up a copy of The New Portuguese Table. (Or, to check out other Portuguese recipes, including several from Leite’s book, go to Leite’s Culinaria.)