Here in the Pacific Northwest, the harvest is coming in hard and fast right now. And when you put sassy bursts of tomato and garlic, peppery red peppers, and sweet onions together in a big pot over a slow stove, what you are left with is the very essence of summer. I freeze small spoonfuls to add to a soup, stew, or appetizer in those months when winter’s cold seeps in to challenge my spirits. I’ve even used this jam as a condiment to make the best burger I’ve ever had. Beyond the chopping, you only need to stir the pot once in a while…perfect for those days when you’re hangin’ out at home anyway.
Tomato and Onion Jam
Tomato and Onion Jam
1 head garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 large onions, minced (I went with Walla Walla sweets as they are a local favorite, but go for any kind of onion you like)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (yes, that amount is right)
Salt and pepper
2 large red peppers, seeded and pureed in the food processor
4 pounds very good tomatoes (the kind you’ll keep eating if given a taste), pureed in the food processor
Start by cooking the garlic, shallots and onion in the olive oil over medium low heat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Season lightly with salt and pepper. The goal is to get them to soften and give up their liquid. Try not to let them brown. Meanwhile cut the other vegetables into a medium to large dice (they will be pureed anyway).
Once the onions become a pale, golden, sticky mess, add the pureed red peppers and let them get all nice and friendly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. We don’t want them to get too caramelized or burned, so stir lightly every five minutes or so.
Once it’s become a rich, rusty jam, add your load of pureed tomatoes. Bring it to a boil and then turn it down to simmer. Season it (again) with salt and pepper. You’re probably about an hour in at this point, and you’re nowhere even close to being there yet. From here on, you’re going to pop up and stir the pot every ten minutes or so. While there, deeply inhale the melding scents.
You’ll know this jam is ready when it gives the oil back up. It took 7 hours for me last time I did it, but I had the pot on a slow simmer (I knew I might get forgetful about stirring).
When it’s all finished, chop up some fresh thyme and basil (to your taste) and stir it in. At this point, it will have a flavor that doesn’t quit. Stick a spoon into it and feed it to people you love! If you wrap it up tightly and let it sit in the fridge for a day, it’ll be even better tomorrow as the flavors will meld the herbs will work their way through the whole thing. Just let it come back to room temperature when you serve it.
These freeze very well. Fill ice cube trays with them and after they’re frozen, seal them tightly in a Ziploc bags and return to the freezer. As Francis Lam says, “These are awesome in the dead of winter, when tomatoes taste about as good as tennis balls.” When you’re ready to take a few out to use them, let them first thaw in the fridge.
Delicious ways to use the jam:
With roasted veggies, like with zucchini and eggplant for an amazing ratatouille (see photo above)
Spread on grilled sandwiches (SO awesome on grilled cheese)
As a condiment for burgers and hot dogs
With cheese and a rustic bread
And omelets simply sing with them!
Recipe inspired by Francis Lam of The Splendid Table