Green Tomato Relish

A while ago I shared a Hot Pepper Jelly recipe, which is my favorite jam/jelly recipe. But my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever canned is Green Tomato Relish, which is a delicious savory/sweet combination that leaves Hunt’s in the dust. I discovered it last year and made a bunch of jars and then hoarded them until late in the winter because, like a rich man with a mattress full of more money than he’ll ever spend, I feared the tragedy of inadvertently running out before grilled hot dog season. And we used it. A lot. But it was still clear that we weren’t going to use it all, so I got less stingy later in the year and shared some with people I love.

This year, Phil had to pick all the green tomatoes while I was away for my annual knitters’ weekend. So I came home to three grocery bags of green tomatoes, which I figured I’d get through in a couple of nights. I haven’t. I’ve been rearranging them and culling any that are starting to turn rotten. I’ve arranged and rearranged them in big bowls. I’ve frozen any that are starting to turn red (or yellow, or orange, or whatever their heirloom color is). This weekend I spent Sunday afternoon canning green tomato jelly, green tomato pickles, and green tomato relish. This made a pretty pile on our kitchen table, but five hours of canning only got rid of maybe a third of the remaining tomatoes.

Last night I made more relish. Tonight I’m making more pickles. This weekend we’re having dinner with several families at a friend’s house, and I’m taking a green tomato pie (a depression-era substitute for apple pie). I’m starting to see green tomatoes in my sleep.

So the relish. This recipe makes about 7 pints, and I’ll probably be making another batch soon. So if you’re a friend, family member, neighbor, well-wisher, or anyone who has had casual contact with us, I’ll probably be pressing a jar of relish in your hands sometime soon. Be thankful. It looks fairly pedestrian, but it’s so good.

Once you do a tiny bit of prep, this recipe has almost no hands-on time. Start by finely chopping all the vegetables in a food processor. I don’t have a full-size food processor; I have a little one that can fit on my blender. This step takes me maybe 15 minutes with my little processor. If you have a bigger one, it will be faster. If you don’t have one, you’ll be chopping for about four days.

Put the chopped vegetables in a strainer so that a lot of the liquid can drain out. I just throw the veggies in the pasta basket of a large soup pot and let the liquid drain into the pot. It sits like this for about an hour, and a lot of liquid drains off. You can throw this liquid down the sink, but I usually pour it on our garden out the door, since it’s got some extra nutrients that plants like. I’m sure our depression-era forebears who invented green tomato pie would use it in soup, but I don’t. I’ve potty trained three kids, so a big pot of yellow liquid isn’t something I’m inclined to eat.

Then just mix in the rest of the ingredients, boil them together for a few minutes, and can in a water-bath canner. Here’s the recipe.

Green Tomato Relish

12 (give or take) large green tomatoes, stem cut out
3 cored and deseeded bell peppers (make 2 or 3 of them red or orange)
2 peeled large sweet onions like Vidalias, or about 4 smaller onions
1-1/2 Tbsp. celery seed
1-1/2 Tbsp. mustard seed
1/2 Tbsp. salt
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Chop up the first three ingredients in a food processor. Let these chopped vegetables drain for about an hour to remove extra liquid. Pour the drained vegetables into a large stock pot, and then add the celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and let gently boil for about 5 minutes. Fill sterilized jars with hot relish. Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes. (Go back to the Hot Pepper Jelly link if you don’t know how.) Once the jars are removed from the canner, have cooled, and have sealed, pop open a jar and eat from the can with a spoon. Or serve it with hot dogs and sausage, if you’re a traditionalist.


Universal Frittata Recipe

So I was gone for four days knitting and relaxing with friends. Why did I volunteer to make risotto for dinner last night before I checked to be sure we actually, you know, had enough aborio rice to make risotto? I do not know. I picked up mushrooms and a bottle of white wine on the way home, knowing we had neither ingredient. And then I got home, set out my ingredients, rolled up my sleeves, and went to the pantry to find we didn’t have aborio rice.

I made the kids some food from cans (they were thrilled), and Phil and I ate a little after them, making a large dent in what has become a mounting pile of eggs.

Frittatas are so easy because you can pretty much make them any way you want with what you have on hand or need to use up in the fridge. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Cook the ingredients going into the frittata. If you’re including things like onions, garlic, or greens, you want them cooked down so that they don’t taste raw in the frittata; cooking the ingredients in the eggs will get ingredients hot, but won’t be enough time to, say, make crunchy vegetables like peppers soft. So pre-cook.
  2. Put the filling ingredients in the pan if they aren’t there already, and then pour on the eggs (about 6 – 8) mixed with about half a cup of some kind of shredded cheese, a bit of milk or cream, and seasonings.
  3. Cook the frittata over medium to medium-high heat for a minute or so. When the egg filling is a bit cooked, sprinkle a half of cup of cheese (more cheese!) on top. You can also top it with things like chopped scallion greens.
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook for about 7 minutes — until the frittata is relatively firm (but not dry).
  5. Uncover and put in the oven, broiling the frittata to brown the cheese a bit. This takes 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Enjoy tonight’s dinner, and dream about tomorrow night’s risotto.

Here’s, specifically, what we did last night.

Potatoes and Chard Frittata

A large of bunch of chard (about six large stalks), leaves stripped off the stems
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 small potatoes (the end of the summer potatoes!), sliced thinly
8 duck eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Rip the chard greens into pieces. In a small frying pan, wilt the greens in a bit of water; I washed them first and didn’t dry them, so they had plenty of water for wilting. When they’re wilted, put them aside for a bit.

In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, pour in the potatoes and cook, browning both sides but not burning.

Combine the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and Parmesan in a bowl and whisk together. Put the chard over the browned potatoes in the skillet, making sure it stretches across the entire skillet. (In other words, don’t put a big lump in the middle, or the frittata will have chardless edges.) Pour the egg mixture over the chard and cook, uncovered, for a couple of minutes to loosely set up the eggs. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over top, turn the head to medium-low, and cook for about 7 minutes. Once the eggs are set but still glistening, put the skillet in the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top.

Bon appetit!

Quick Preserving: Pickled Green Tomatoes

Last night was busy. We had all the normal school night chaos, along with a few more substantive chores and a hard stop at 9 p.m. to watch the first presidential debate. But during this pre-frost time, the tomatoes, they don’t wait for debates.

In 20 minutes, I dealt with some of them. First, I froze yet another gallon Ziploc’s worth of ripe tomatoes that had again overtaken our kitchen counter. The freezer is so full of tomatoes I’m a little worried we won’t have room for the quarter cow a local farmer will have ready for us in a month. Guess we’ll have to work harder at eating through the ice cream.

Then I turned to the green tomatoes still in the yard. We’re getting overrun with green tomatoes that have little time before the frost sets in. I’m seeing my girlfriends this weekend for our dozen-years-running knitters’ weekend. If you’re wondering, we really do knit — between glasses of wine and plates of cheese and going for walks. I look forward to it for half the year. But it’s timed just as the green tomatoes need dealing with. Last night I didn’t have time for some of the green tomato treats on my to-do list (green tomato jam, green tomato relish, fried green tomato BLTs…). So I made some quick refrigerator pickles. Tonight I’ll make another quart of them to take for the weekend. Little known fact: Knitters love pickles!

Here’s how to make them. This recipe is a slightly modified version of one in the fabulous sewing title Alabama Studio Style.

Quick Pickled Green Tomatoes

1 quart of green cherry tomatoes (you can also use larger tomatoes and cut them into quarters or eighths)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
2 tsp. course sea salt
1/2 tsp. coursely ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dry dill (you can use fresh; I just didn’t have any)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
2 split hot peppers

Prick the tomatoes through the stem end and through the other end so that the brine will absorb into the tomatoes. Fill a quart canning jar with the tomatoes. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, pepper, dill, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour this brine over the tomatoes in the jar. Top with the hot peppers, screw on the lid, and let the tomatoes cool on the counter. As the jar cools, shake it a little so some of the garlic pieces fall into the jar. When the pickles get to room temperature, put them in the fridge. They should rest in the fridge for a day or so before eating. They’ll get stronger the longer they sit before eating.