Last week I talked about the abundance of produce at the markets and I saw it again over the weekend. Buckets of tomatoes priced under $10, bushels of cucumbers for $5 and a very nice selection greens. Looking at all of those tomatoes brought back memories of the hours I spent boiling, peeling, and seeding only to end up with one jar of pasta sauce. Someday I’ll try making pasta sauce again, but until then, I’m trying to use the tomatoes more efficiently.

One of the recipes I make often is from local cookbook authors Jenny Breen and Susan Thurston and since it requires some stove simmering time, it is great to make this time of year. Their original recipe for Tomato Jam uses canned tomatoes, but with a little extra work, I’ve found it to be a way to use fresh tomatoes.

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I’ve included the original recipe below, but if you’re feeling brave and need to put some tomatoes to use, make your own crushed tomatoes. One to two pounds of tomatoes should equal 28 ounces of crushed and kids love to help with the crushing part!

I tend to go with a slower approach on this recipe using a lower heat setting and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos until they are nice and tender before adding the crushed tomatoes. I also let it simmer for 1-2 hours which helps the extra water from the tomatoes evaporate a bit. Most of the time I serve the jam over grilled vegetables and polenta, but it’s also great over pasta, spaghetti squash, or with a toasted baguette topped with chevre. One batch should feed four adults.

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Tomato Jam
From Cooking Up the Good Life by Jenny Breen & Susan Thurston

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapenos for about three minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, maple syrup and salt and simmer on very low heat until quite thick, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let the jam cool for at least two hours or overnight in the refrigerator, if possible.

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Disclaimer: The University of Minnesota Press sent me a copy of “Cooking Up the Good Life” when the book was released in 2011. I immediately fell in love with the Tomato Jam recipe and have kept it to myself until now.