So there comes the time, about now, when the tomato plants are at the height of their production, when it's suddenly time to start cooking tomatoes from the garden, not just chopping raw tomatoes for salads.
They're piling up on the counter, as ripe as can be, you don't want them to go to waste. But as a seasonal eater, you're also not going to pull out all the canning gear to make tomato sauce or something similar. Because, you see, here in the Midwest, garden tomatoes are for August, September and in good years, the early part of October. They're not for winter.
And so it came to be last fall. (Yes, I saved this recipe from then, knowing you'd appreciate it now more than then.) Twas a Friday night, the end of a long two weeks. Briefly, we talked about heading out for dinner, a strong Old-Fashioned called. Instead? I warmed up some Slow Cooker Tomato Grits cooked earlier in the day and cooked Frozen Steaks, you got it, straight from the freezer. With a good bottle of wine from downstairs? The best "Free" meal ever.
RECIPE for SLOW COOKER TOMATO GRITS
Time to table: 4 hours
Makes about 4-1/4 cups
1 pound ripe summer tomatoes, diced
1 cup (140g) stone-ground grits
1-1/2 cups (360g) low-fat milk
1-1/2 cups (300g) water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
JUST BEFORE SERVING
1 ounce blue cheese
A few chopped tomatoes
Line your slow cooker with a plastic liner, you still need to stir often but it prevents scorching. In a bowl, stir together tomatoes, grits, milk, water, salt, cumin, oregano and garlic salt. Transfer to the slow cooker.
TO COOK ON LOW Cover and let cook on low for about 7 hours, stirring occasionally.
TO COOK ON HIGH Cover and let cook on high for about 3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes often after the first hour.
JUST BEFORE SERVING About a half hour before serving, check the consistency, if too loose, remove the cover and let finish cooking, stirring often. Stir in the blue cheese until it melts. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS If you like, make this a day or even a couple of days ahead of time. It reheats beautifully! A small portion heats in the microwave in about 90 seconds; a full batch heats in the oven in about 30 minutes and puffs up a little, browning nicely on top.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
TOMATOES I wondered if the tomatoes would need blanching. Good news, skins and all, no toughness, no sign of the skins! But if you're worried about tough tomato skins, purée the tomatoes first, this would make a pretty all-red bowl of grits too.
ROASTED TOMATOES? These would be excellent! I'd use either Slow-Roasted Tomatoes or Roasted Roma Tomatoes but would use maybe 8 ounces versus a full pound.
NO BLUE CHEESE? Gruyere would be nice, parmesan too, smoked gouda would be excellent. Avoid a greasy cheddar, though, except in a pinch. It really takes a tiny amount of cheese to make these taste ever so rich!
TIMING Don't skip the cheese, however. The grits don't taste like much (more texture and color than flavor) until the cheese is added. You'll be wondering what the fuss is all about until the cheese is added.
MAKE IT A MEAL We served the grits with Frozen Steaks but I can also imagine them as the base for Shrimp & Grits or Breakfast Grits with Runny Eggs. I don't think you'll have any trouble using them up!
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MORE FAVORITE TOMATO RECIPES for LATE SUMMER & EARLY FALL~ Never Take a Good Tomato for Granted:
Twelve Favorite Tomato Recipes ~
~ Tomato Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits & Goat Cheese ~
~ Swiss Chard Skillet Supper with Tomatoes, Corn, Fresh Dill & Feta ~
~ Broccoli & Tomato Thai Curry ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Ratatouille ~
~ Slow-Roasted Tomatoes ~
~ Steak & Tomatoes ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSSlow-Roasted Tomatoes (< an annual obsession) Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes Broccoli with Orange & Curry Cauliflower Tomato Medley Eggplant Parmigiana Mini Tomato Pesto Torte Potato Okra Curry (< hello, Meatless Monday) Roasted Tomato Salsa “Surprise Inside” Spice Parsnip Cupcakes Steamed Butternut Squash in a Collapsible Steamer Basket Foodie Fight (Slooow) Baked Potatoes (< this week's favorite!) Balkan Eggplant Casserole Apple Cider Vinaigrette (< my fav make-ahead salad dressing) Rosemary Potatoes Calabacitas (< great with garden zucchini!) Beet Salad with Sumac, Yogurt & Pita Pennsylvania Dutch Green Beans with Bacon Tomato Recipes – Alphabet of Vegetables Slow Cooker Beans & Tomatoes
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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