A bevy of creative ways to enjoy Birmingham’s tomato bounty [PHOTOS]

A rainbow of tomatoes. Photo via Snow’s Bend Farm’s Facebook page

Got a backyard garden brimming with tomatoes? Been to the local farmers market or a grocery store like The Pig and seen them? Tomatoes are everywhere in Birmingham this year. We reached out to find out what y’all are doing with the bounty. Have a listen to Home Grown Tomatoes while you feast your eyes on all these tasty possibilities…

1. Start with tomatoes fresh from the garden

A veritable bounty of tomatoes, including Black Beauty Tomatoes, which apparently are a bit tart. Photos via Catherine Campbell O’Hare, who really does have a tomato altar

When we first grew a garden, I delighted in watching my previously vegetbable-averse toddler pluck yellow cherry tomatoes right off the vine and pop them in his mouth. There’s something about eating a tomato fresh from the vine and still warm from the sun that just says summer.

If you don’t have your own garden, Catherine Campbell O’Hare said “the Alabama Farmers Market has giant cases of Romas and also huge beefsteak tomatoes for $10 a case. We bought 5 to process and are going back for more!”

Wondering what she does with them? She’s “making and canning pasta sauce, stewed, chopped and whole tomatoes, Bloody Mary mix, salsa, ketchup, gazpacho, tomato juice, tomato paste + roasted cherry tomatoes.”

2. Eat a tomato sandwich every day

A somewhat adulterated tomato sandwich, according to purists, with cheese and bacon. Photo via Thomas Lower

To know Amanda Storey of Jones Valley Teaching Farm + the Food Revival blog is to love her. Here’s just one reason why: her favorite thing to do with tomatoes? “Tomato sandwich every day.”

I’m with her.

Meanwhile, Rev. Ruth Vann Lillian of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tuscaloosa had this novelistic description of her own particular ritual:

“There is nothing like a well-crafted, simple tomato sandwich. Any high-quality bread, preferably a soft, thick-sliced sourdough with Hellman’s mayo (unless your own) slathered generously on it, thick slices of ripe, home-grown tomato sprinkled lightly with S & P, and optional fresh herbs like thyme, basil, tarragon, or nothing. Some people like to fill in the corners with lettuce and bacon, but the home-grown fresh tomato is the star! SO glad I planted tomatoes this year!”

3. Make a tomato salad

Your imagination is the only limit to your creativity. Photos via Leslie Allen, owner of Nashville’s I Dream of Weenie, Susan McCammon, Hot & Hot Fish Club (via The Market at Pepper Place’s Facebook page) + Slice Pizza’s Facebook page

I’m gonna let the pictures speak for themselves on this one. Also, Legalize Marinara is one of the funniest t-shirt slogans I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks, Slice Pizza, for making me laugh.

4. Bake tasty treats

You can bake so many incredible things using tomatoes. Photos via Joanna Mann of Walden FARMacy, Stone Hollow Farmstead‘s Facebook page, Jackie Grace Kim + Destiny Askew

Above, from top left to bottom left in a clockwise direction, we’ve got Joanna Mann’s tomato pie, Stone Hollow Farmstead’s pizza making basics, Jackie Grace Kim’s tomato galette (can you tell she’s also a graphic designer + artist?), Destiny Askew’s cherry tomato tart, and Joanna Mann’s enchiladas. Hungry yet?

5. Roast tomatoes + other veggies

A roasted ratatouille puttanesca, with roasted veggies, plums, olives and capers. Yum. Photo via Susan McCammon

This feast from Susan McCammon needed its own big picture because wow. Plums, too. And olives. And capers!

6. Make tomato soup

So many kinds of soup. Photos via Joanna Mann of Walden FARMacy + Jackie Grace Kim

Here, a lot of people gave a big shout-out for Best Gazpacho, a recipe by Julia Moskin in the New York Times.

7. Process into tomato sauce, salsa, relish or Bloody Mary mix

Roast for sauce, chop for salsa, spice for Bloody Mary Mix, for sauce or chip for relish. Photos via Joanna Mann of Walden FARMacy, Catherine Campbell O’Hare, Stone Hollow Farmstead’s Facebook page + Leslie Allen, owner of Nashville’s I Dream of Weenie

Here’s what Carla Craft had to say about roasting tomatoes for sauce:

“I usually cut up enough tomatoes in large chunks to fully cover plus a 9×13 pirex. You can chopped up an onion too if you want. About 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic to taste and any other seasoning you want. I usually use a lot of an Italian herb mix. True slow roast would be like 8-10 hours at 200. Essentially until most of the liquid is gone. Stir now and then. I usually broil mine at the end for a char. You can even do it overnight. Your house will smell wonderful. In the end, they are like candy. I could eat the whole pan with a spoon lol. But great for pasta alone or added to sauce, soups, bruschetta, etc. you can make it go faster at higher temps if you want.”

8. Make sun-dried tomatoes

Dehydrate, dry in the sun, take your pick. Photos via Catherine Campbell O’Hare + Barbara Mason

Easy + delicious.

8. Try tomato kombucha

Yellow Tomato & Green Coriander kombucha, anyone? Apparently it hits right between sweet and savory and sounds just delicious. Photo via Harvest Roots Ferments’ Facebook page fruity and sweet.

File this one under “I never would have thought of that but I bet it tastes good.” Soon, we’ll all be able to head over to Harvest Roots Ferments’ new taproom in Avondale to try all of their amazing creations. I can’t wait!

9. Give Jon Eastwood’s super-simple approach a try

One little bitty tomato. Photo via Jon Eastwood

“Our plant has produced one little bitty tomato so far! The most creative we got was cutting it in half and sharing the fruit of our labor.”

Jon Eastwood

Hungry for tomatoes now? Head to any of these local farmers markets or your local Piggly Wiggly today.

Now tell us, Birmingham, what are y’all doing with your tomatoes this year? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know!