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Adding Tomatoes to Winter Salads? Stop, Right Now

Adding Tomatoes to Winter Salads? Stop, Right Now

I would like to declare a war on the salad tomato.

I’m not talking about juicy, peak-of-summer tomatoes, the kind that need little adornment other than salt and pepper. I can, and often do, eat those by the pound, many of them picked fresh from my own garden, still warm from the summer sun.

What I’m talking about are the wan, mealy imposters that, for reasons I cannot explain, are apparently mandatory inclusions in many entrée and side salads, no matter the season.

Exhibit A: A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our two-year-old son out for dinner. We went to one of our local eateries, a family-friendly café whose textbook-size menu offers something for everyone. I ordered the grilled salmon salad.

The salad came, and it looked fine. The grilled salmon sat atop a bed of lettuce, roasted red peppers, grilled portobello mushrooms, sliced Bermuda onions, diced cucumbers, and — there they were — a few wedges of pink, rock-hard tomatoes.

Why? Where is it written that a salad must contain tomatoes, even if those tomatoes taste like mealy, starchy nothingness? And why does the public continue to accept this stupid practice? It makes no sense to me.

When a steak is over- or undercooked, you send it back. If your pancakes are raw in the middle or your toast is burnt, you complain. But when you get a salad with icy, pink tomatoes, you… what? “Well, it’s the best they could do. It is February, after all.”

No! Stop that right now! If something tastes bad — or, frankly, like nothing at all — a restaurant shouldn’t be putting it in my salad or yours. Are the tomatoes there for decoration? Because let’s face it: underripe tomatoes are pretty ugly. They add zero aesthetic value to my plate. And they taste like fuzzy icicles.

I realize there are more important battles to fight when it comes to what and how we eat. I know it’s hard to get riled up over a seemingly innocuous slice of fruit. But if we continue to accept crap — whether that’s in the form of unripe tomatoes or overly processed food — then that’s what we’ll get. We should demand better.

So join me in my crusade. It may only be a tomato, but really it’s the tip of the iceberg — and I’m not talking about the lettuce.

Rustic Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This cucumber and tomato salad is so good that you could eat it alone and never think of eating anything else with it, like bread, meat, etc. It’s one of those salads that is so balanced and so tasty that you crave it, like you would chocolate. I get those cravings. The good thing is that this salad is very easy and quick to make.

As a matter of fact, my 8-year-old daughter made this salad that you see on the pictures all by herself, from peeling and chopping the veggies, to making the dressing and mixing it all together. She was so proud! This is the first dish she had ever made all by herself, and the salad was so good that she received a ton of compliments for it.

This salad is a close sibling of the family favorite Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad but without the avocado and with different herbs. Yes, not everyone likes avocado and basil as much as I do, and most people that I know love parsley and cilantro. If you want, you can substitute herbs in this salad for basil. Either way, this salad will impress.

Joanna Gaines's Lebanese Salad Is the Perfect Thing to Liven Up Your Winter Dinners

Even though my travel plans have been put on hold for the time being, I'm determined to not let that spoil my ability to experience new cultures. Recently, my favorite way to do this at home has been through cooking traditional dishes from different countries. This past week, I made Joanna Gaines's Lebanese salad recipe, which she made during the first episode of her new cooking show, Magnolia Table, and let me tell you, it was almost as good as visiting the Middle Eastern country myself.

The best part about the dish is that it's so incredibly easy to make, and you likely have many of the ingredients already on hand! The recipe calls for tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. All you have to do is cut the veggies, add everything to a bowl, and toss!

The standard recipe makes a pretty big serving, so be prepared to share with the rest of your household if you're following the instructions exactly. Of course, you could halve or even quarter the required proportions if you're looking for a single serving.

The salad tastes refreshing and light, with popping colors and complementary flavors from all of the yummy veggies. Gaines notes in the recipe that it can be refrigerated for up to eight hours, making it the perfect dish to prep and eat throughout the day.

While I'm definitely still craving the ability to travel, for now, I'm satisfying my wanderlust hunger with the taste of this delicious Lebanese dish.

Helpful Tools for Making An Incredible Green Salad

Before we talk about how to make an incredible salad, it’s important to stop for a minute and talk about a few kitchen tools (besides a knife) that are helpful. Now, these tools aren’t exclusive to making salads. Most of these tools serve multiple purposes.

OXO Produce Keeper

I use these boxes for storing leafy greens. They are the best thing I’ve found for keeping my leafy greens fresh for at least a week, usually two. The boxes uses a coconut-based charcoal filter to absorb the gases let off by produce which in turn causes the produce to rot prematurely. I prefer the medium-size box. I purchased my boxes (I have two) for Amazon. You can also find them at Target.

Salad Spinner

This is one of the most-used tools in my kitchen. I use this tool to soak and clean berries and fruit (or small veggies) and leafy greens. For leafy greens, I prefer to wash my greens just before use, and then use a salad spinner to dry the greens.

If you don’t have a salad spinner (yet), wrap washed greens in a kitchen towel, fold up the corners, and swirl it over your head (like a cowboy with a lasso).


When it comes to veggies and fruits, think about how you can slice, chop, and dice them to create a variety of textures. Using a mandoline to slice veggies and some fruits is a great way to add slightly different textures to your salads.

Veggie Peeler

A veggie peeler is a great tool for, of course, peeling carrots or the skin off cucumbers. But it’s also a fabulous tool to help you make carrot ribbons for a salad, or add thin slices of a hard cheese like: cheddar, parmesan, or asiago.

Storage Jar for Salad Dressing

I don’t want to make a homemade salad dressing every time we enjoy a salad, so I usually make one salad dressing on Sunday afternoon (or for dinner once during the week) and then reuse that salad dressing over and over again throughout the week. I recommend keeping a mason jar around for making and storing homemade dressing. A clean glass jam jar also works well for this.

12 Healthy Winter Recipes (that I love!)

Since we just received some unfortunate news from Punxsutawney Phil, I figured I would come to the rescue with a list of my favorite healthy winter recipes to get us through these next six weeks.

Despite living in a very cold city, I haven’t experienced the typical winter blues this year and I attribute that to a few things: taking morning and evening walks outside with Marley, investing in good outerwear (this coat has saved me!), regularly taking my Vitamin D, and appreciating the beauty of the season. Good comfort food doesn’t hurt either. Does my face feel like it’s about to fall off sometimes? Absolutely. But views like this don’t come around every day. There is no need to get stressed to get the perfect meal, if you are feeling anxious or stressed you can always go to to get a stress buster.

I’m always on the look out for cozy, satisfying, healthy winter recipes this time of year, and these next 12 recipes check all of those boxes. Yes, salad can be cozy, especially if you load it up with texture, colors, and a little bit of gorgonzola cheese. I’m taking a cue from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine and calling these healthy-ish.

Are they perfect? No, but they’re pretty damn close.

1. Cauliflower Chickpea Curry

Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free

This continues to be one of my favorite winter curry recipes! You all seem to agree, because it is currently one of the most-visited recipes on the blog right now. Be sure to check out the comment section! Lots of people have left great comments with their own variations, tips, and ways to adapt this recipe for a slow cooker.

Reader Review: “I made this tonight and it is seriously one of the most delicious things that I have ever put in my mouth! Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.” – Hartley

2. Loaded Winter Salad with Radicchio, Pear, Gorgonzola, and Pomegranate

My mother-in-law, Rachel, and I revisited this salad over the holidays, and I was reminded just how much I love it. She always adds in a few endive spears as well, and I highly recommend that small twist! The color alone with the purple radicchio, red pomegranate seeds, pear, veined gorgonzola is enough to win anyone over. It is a perfect balance of sweetness, tartness, saltiness, and bitterness. Add some roast chicken (or canned beans) to turn this into a filling hearty main course.

Reader Review: “Absolutely stunning salad. The colors are brilliant, and it tastes good, too. Didn’t have fig olive oil, but I had blood orange olive oil, and pear infused balsamic vinegar. I also added an orange to this and used some of the juice. A special holiday salad. Thanks for sharing.” – Vicky

3. Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples + Cranberries

There is nothing worse than a cold breakfast on a freezing winter day. I love that you can literally throw all of the ingredients for this oatmeal into your slow cooker the night before, and wake up to a bowl of steaming hot, creamy steel cut oats.

Reader Review: “I’m always on the lookout for slow cooker steel cut oatmeal recipes, it’s the best way to cook them. This one hits all the right notes, the flavor is awesome and it makes enough that I can freeze in single portion containers and eat whenever I’m in the mood for oatmeal.” – Cat

4. Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Crispy Goat Cheese

If you’ve never been a big mushroom fan, this is your new gate-way recipe. My brother-in-law doesn’t even like goat cheese, and this recipe convinced him to give it another chance. If you’re looking to speed this recipe up, feel free to substitute the homemade tomato sauce with a high-quality store-bought one. Rao’s Homemade is the only brand of store-bought sauce that I’ve ever enjoyed!

Reader Review: “Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made it today and it is absolutely delicious. The flavors, textures – incredible! I could go meatless with recipes like this…” – Barbara

5. Garam Masala Carrot Soup

Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Whole30 Friendly

Don’t be intimidated by the fancy micro greens on top. They are totally optional. This carrot soup, which can be made with just a sheet pan and blender, is proof that homemade soup doesn’t have to be time-intensive or complicated. If you can’t find garam masala, feel free to substitute it with your favorite curry powder blend.

Reader Review: “This was so yummy! I LOVE Garam Masala and it was perfect with the carrots and onion. We are a busy vegan family and we were able to make this on a weeknight no problem. Thanks!” – Dani

6. Middle Eastern Roast Chicken with Vegetables

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole30 Friendly

There is nothing better than a crispy roast chicken during the cold winter months, and this spiced twist is my go-to whenever I’m beginning to tire of the classic, regular old version. The spice blend alone is worth making, storing, and putting on everything. This chicken is spatchcocked, which helps it cook more evenly and quickly –> check out this post on how to spatchcock a chicken.

Reader Review: “We just made this tonight. It was so amazing. We grilled it on the barbecue instead of baking in the oven and served with a couscous salad and grilled vegetables tossed with olive oil and one teaspoon of the spice rub. So tasty – we will make all summer!” – Andrea

7. Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup with Rosemary

This soup is a wonderful reminder to keep things simple in the kitchen whenever possible. It contains only a few ingredients, but all the right ones. While most dried beans should be soaked before cooking, cannellini beans can go from dried to perfectly cooked in about 8 to 10 hours in a slow cooker. Set it in the morning and have dinner ready to go when you come home that night.

Reader Review: “This soup reminds me of the white bean soup my mom used to make, just a tad more sophisticated with the rosemary.” – Brittany

8. Whole Wheat Pasta with Walnut-Sage Pesto and Roasted Delicata Squash

??Proof that you don’t have to add ten pounds of cheese and buckets of cream in order to make the coziest of winter pastas. Also, proof that fresh sage and parsley can be just as good in homemade pesto as my go-to summer basil.

Reader Review: “I can’t stop smiling with every bite! I am eating this right now and I am loving every flavor. Doesn’t get much better than this when you gotta be stuck at home all day with construction workers under your house and nothing else to do but clean! This just made my day a lot brighter. Thank you!” – Amanda

9. Roasted Carrot Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free

I’m continually blown away by the response to this roasted carrot lentil salad! A fabulous reminder that some of the best salad recipes don’t need to contain a speck of leafy greens (aside from the carrot top stem garnish) to make them incredibly healthy, nutritious, and hearty.

Reader Review: “I made this tonight. I ate as a salad and added a few chopped walnuts. I added steak for my husband and kids as they are not vegans. It was a hit! Sooooo very hearty and complex flavors. Excellent. ” – Kristin

10. Green Pork Chili

Gluten Free, Dairy Free [without the toppings]

I’ll be the first to admit that this recipe does not have the most appealing of names (or photographs). Pork? Green? Chili? What? Once you get past that, you can appreciate this chili for all that it offers. If you’re looking for a different, non-tomato based chili recipe for the big day this weekend, check this one out. I can’t wait to adapt it to my Instant Pot.

Reader Review: “Made this last night and it was amazing. Filled with wonderful flavors!! The only change I made was I roasted ALL the peppers. I also cooked it in a pressure cooker!! Thanks again for sharing this recipe!!” – Mary

11. Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils

Gluten Free, Vegetarian [substitute vegetable stock]

Slow cooker? Winter vegetable? If that doesn’t scream health winter recipe, I don’t know what does. This soup is all about the vegetables and it is packed with them. The best part? The leftovers only get better with time. Don’t forget a sprinkling of parmigiana, parsley, and olive oil to finish it off! If you enjoy lentils (but don’t own a slow cooker), try this vegetarian green-lentil soup with coconut milk. It’s off the charts.

Reader Review: “This soup is delicious! It’s easy to make and full of healthy veggies. The olive oil, Parmesan, and parsley topping put it over the top.” – Bri

12. 30-Minute Beef Bourguignon

Dairy Free, Gluten Free [omit the flour]

Often times, I’ll dig deep into the recipe archives and discover an old favorite that I forgot about over the years. This dish happens to be one of those recipes. Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe, this recipe proved to the biggest skeptic (ie. me) that you can cook a lightened-up, time-friendly beef bourguignon in under an hour. This would make a fabulous weeknight-friendly Valentine’s Day dinner!

Reader Review: “Wow, this is great. I’ve always wanted to make beef bourguignon (or beouf as Julia used to say). I just couldn’t get the energy to start the daunting process. I think I can make it now.” – Norma

>>> Find more winter recipe inspiration in the recipe archives or check out what seasonal meals (and treats!) I’m loving on Pinterest right now.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese and Fried Shallots

  • Author: Nicole Gaffney (
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1 x
  • Category: salad
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: american


Ripe heirloom tomatoes, creamy blue cheese, sweet + tangy sherry vinaigrette, and crispy fried shallots. This is the best heirloom tomato salad ever!


For the Fried Shallots

  • 3 medium shallots, peeled, halved, and sliced lengthwise (not too thin)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • grapeseed or vegetable oil for frying

For the Salad

  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • flaky sea salt (such as Maldon or sell gris)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 very large or 4 smaller heirloom tomatoes, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 ounces creamy blue cheese (recommended: Maytag)
  • fresh basil, torn
  • fried shallots


  1. Combine the shallots with buttermilk, salt, and pepper, then set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper. Fill a medium pot with oil about 1 inch up the sides, then place over medium-high heat.
  2. Test the oil by sprinkling a little bit of flour in it. The flour should immediately sizzle and start to brown, but not burn. If using a thermometer, it should read between 350-375 degrees.
  3. Drain the shallots, then working in batches, coat them in the flour mixture, then drop them into the hot oil. Move them around for a few minutes, flipping if necessary, until golden brown. Remove fried shallots with a spider or slotted spoon, then place on paper towels to drain.
  4. Whisk together minced shallots, honey, sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
  5. Arrange tomatoes on a large platter, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, then pour dressing over. Crumble blue cheese on top and sprinkle with basil. Shower with a mound of fried shallots and serve immediately.


  • I recommend doubling or tripling fried shallots to use at a later time. You will not need to double the flour/corn starch mixture or buttermilk, only the actual shallots. Keep fried shallots in an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb moisture, at room temperature, for up to 5 days. Recrisp in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.

Keywords: tomato salad, fried shallots, crispy shallots, blue cheese

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @coleycooks on Instagram and hashtag it #coleycooks

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Green Pea Salad with Creamy Dressing

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Showcase the fresh flavor and snappy texture of fresh spring peas with this Southern-style green pea salad. A combination of green, red, and yellow bell peppers add color and sweetness, while red onion adds a zing to contrast with the creamy dressing. Make this dish a few hours ahead of time to let the flavors mingle and intensify before serving.

Preserved Tomatoes in Olive Oil

  • Tomatoes (I prefer cherry tomatoes for this)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (or seasonings of choice)
  • Clove garlic (optional)
  • Springs of fresh rosemary (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet before drizzling them with a touch of olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt.
  4. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 20 minutes, until the skins have split and the tomatoes are fragrant but still firm enough to hold together.
  5. Scoop the tomatoes into a glass jar, adding in the garlic and rosemary if desired. Leave 1″ of headspace at the top of the jar.
  6. Top the jar off completely with olive oil. Using a butter knife, insert it on the inside of the jar, around the tomatoes, helping to release any air bubbles trapped inside. Again, make sure all the tomatoes are covered with olive oil at this point, adding more oil if needed.
  7. Place a lid and label on the jar before transferring them into the refrigerator for long-term storage.

Lest you think it's unsafe, rest assured, people have been preserving foods in fats (olive oil, lard, tallow, etc.) for millenia. One of the many benefits of preserving tomatoes in olive oil (or any food for that matter) is that if it goes bad – you know. The tomatoes will simply mold. Even if the top of the tomatoes do mold a bit from being exposed to air, simply scrape the mold off with a spoon and keep enjoying the rest of the jar.

Remember, any tomatoes exposed to air will mold over time so each time you use the tomatoes, make sure to submerge the remaining fruits under the oil (add a bit extra if you need to) before putting them back in the refrigerator. If you're faithful about doing this, the tomatoes will last well into next spring for you.

Sigh. What a beautiful gift from the garden in winter!

If you'd like to checkout all of our preserved recipes, you can do that right here.

And if you'd like to checkout a video of my preserved tomatoes in olive oil, you can do that right here.

Winter Pea Salad Plate with Tomatoes and Cashews

  1. Whole grains over, processed flour.
  2. Whole milk and/or milk products such as cottage cheese and yogurt.
  3. Full fat mayo, real butter, olive, and avocado oil.
  4. Eggs once or twice a week in addition to those used in cooking.
  5. Legumes at least once a week, MORE if possible*.
  6. Honey-sweetened food whenever possible, low consumption of sugary foods.
  7. Meat, fish, or fowl in appropriate serving sizes.
  8. Lots and lots of vegetables! Build the meal around vegetables, then fruit.
  9. And finally, something raw, something fermented, and something new.

  • frozen peas
  • onion or our favorite quick pickled onions
  • celery
  • parsley
  • diced ham
  • diced cheddar cheese
  • mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • garlic salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Angostura Bitters
  • hard-cooked eggs
  • Roma tomatoes
  • cashews
  • measuring spoons
  • kitchen knife
  • cutting board
  • measuring cups
  • large mixing bowl
  • silicone spatula
  • whisk
  • small mixing bowl
  • serving platter

Winter Pea Salad with Tomatoes and Cashews

*legumes can be difficult for even the best tummies to handle. Legumes are like whole grain, they require special techniques for better digestibility. I am working on these skills as you read this, my desire to be healthy is strong! Plus I am an eater, I love good food, and legume-based recipes are a part of that enjoyment.

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Stop Throwing Away Free Tomato Sauce

It has come to my attention that many people are unwittingly throwing away free tomato sauce when they preserve their summer tomatoes.

Here’s the thing: like all fruit, the skin of tomato is where much of the natural pectin resides. Pectin is the starch that gives jams their thickness and good tomato sauce its natural, noodle-coating thickness.

But tomato skins in a canned tomato product can be tough and stringy, and do that thing where they stick between your teeth and make you feel like you are getting a floss job from Satan’s dentist. This is why almost every canned tomato recipe calls for the initial step of coring, blanching and skinning tomatoes.

A lot of tomatoes = a lot of tomato skins

When you are working with 50 or 150 pounds of tomatoes at a time, those cores and skins really add up. If you are just chucking them to the chickens you are missing the opportunity to make really excellent – and essentially free – thick, smooth tomato sauce.

Would you just throw this much homemade tomato sauce out?

The Secret Ingredient is “Free”

Here’s what you do to turn all those “waste”skins into top-quality, pectin-rich, thick tomato sauce.

Sort tomatoes. Any that are showing signs of rot, mold or disease just chuck.

Wash all your perfect canning tomatoes. I wash my tomatoes in my previously-sanitized sink and add a small splash of bleach to the water. I do this because I will be saucing the skins and I want to cut down on any contaminants on them, but you can decide for yourself if you want to take this step, or perhaps substitute a good quantity of vinegar for the bleach. Because my tomatoes are locally hand-harvested they tend to be pretty clean, but I keep an eye out for any patches of dirt or pieces of tomato leaf and gently scrub these areas clean if necessary.

Things I’ve learned: one big sink can hold 50 pound of tomatoes.

Rinse, dry and core tomatoes. Save those cores.

Because I’m right-handed, whenever possible I move from left-to-right when preparing produce for processing. I find this to be most efficient.

Blanch and slip the skins of the tomatoes. Save those skins.

Set aside skins, cores and other “waste” from preparing whole peeled tomatoes.

Proceed to do whatever you were going to do anyway with all your peeled tomatoes. Save any extra juice or seeds from additional prep of the tomatoes.

Whole peeled tomatoes are the “real” item I’m preserving here – the sauce is just pure bonus.

Put all the clean cores, skins, juice and seeds you set aside in a big pot and start simmering. You can’t overcook this, but you can scorch it, so keep the heat on medium and give it a good stir every few minutes.

It might surprise you how much ends up in that sauce pot.

When everything in the pot is falling-apart tender, say after an hour or more of cooking, and you have a good break where you can attend to your sauce (the 85 minutes while whole peeled tomatoes process in a boiling water bath is an excellent time), puree the contents of the pot. The absolute easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender.

An immersion blender is the simplest, safest way to turn something hot and chunky into something hot and smooth.

Alternatively, you can let the mixture cool a bit and puree it in batches in a blender or food processor. Just a warning: hot liquids + blender = tomato sauce on the ceiling and scalded cook if you aren’t careful. Do a Google search on how to blend hot liquids before you go this route. (After which you will probably decide to take my advice and just go buy an immersion blender.)

When your sauce is smooth-ish, work it through a fine-mesh strainer or chinoise. Use a small ladle or spatula to push all the thick pulp through the strainer while leaving the now straw-like skins behind. Really go for it at this point – you don’t want to leave anything but dry skins and seeds in that strainer.

Take your time and push all the tomato pulp through the strainer.

I strain my sauce directly into a second, clean stockpot. If all my large pots are in use, I strain into a large bowl, clean the original stockpot of any stuck-on tomato peels, and pour the finished stock back in.

The only thing left in the strainer should be seeds and dry, straw-like, curled tomato peels.

Return your sauce to the heat and reduce until it is at your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and, if desired, proceed to preserve by canning or freezing.

Lots of good thick sauce instead of pounds of compost.

Remember, tomato sauce requires the addition of 1 tbsp of bottled lemon juice or ½ tsp citric acid per pint to be safely water bath canned. Here’s info on safe acidification practices for tomato products. Pints require 35 minutes of processing in a boiling water bath at sea level. Here’s additional information on safe ways to process tomato sauce.

Is It Worth It?

If you’ve never done this, you will probably be surprised at how much sauce you get from what you would have normally just thrown away.

These are the sauce yields from three separate tomato-processing events this summer:

Batch one: 150 pound of Roma tomatoes yielded 17 pints of thick, skin-based tomato sauce
Batch two: 40 pounds of Romas yielded 5 pints of thick, skin-based tomato sauce
Batch three: 50 pounds of Romas yielded 9 pints of thick, skin-based tomato sauce

So, depending on how much flesh clings to the skin of your tomatoes when you peel them and how much you reduce your stock, I’d estimate you will get 1 pint of finished sauce for every 6 to 9 pounds of canning tomatoes you peel and core.

This is a great way to eek as much possible goodness out of your harvest or hard-purchased tomatoes. From 90 total pounds of raw canning tomatoes, using this method to recapture sauce from the skins led to a total amount of composted waste of less than 3-and-a-quarter pounds. That’s a processing loss rate of about 3.5% which is, in my opinion, excellent.

If you are canning 50 pounds of tomatoes or more, you will definitely have enough skins to make this process worthwhile. If you work in smaller batches, you might consider saving all your cores and peels in the freezer until you have accumulated enough to make this food reclamation process make sense. The freezing of the peels will not noticeably impact the final texture of the sauce.

Free tomato sauce! And you don’t even have to dumpster dive to get it.

Not-Free Stuff That Helps A Lot When You Are Making Free Tomato Sauce:

Seared Duck BreaSt with Fresh Figs + Black Currant Sauce

This is a “Monday night special” in our cooking class in Provence. Our local butcher supplies the most delicious, meaty duck breasts, and a variety of fresh figs are in season from June to October. This super-easy all-purpose sauce could also be used on any grilled or roasted poultry. I use a good-quality balsamic vinegar here, but nothing super-thick or aged. Two brands that I most respect are Rustichella d’Abbruzzo and Leonardi.


A warmed platter 4 warmed dinner plates.

16 fresh figs
2 fatted duck breasts (magret), each about 1 pound (500 g)
Fine sea salt
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (125 ml) best-quality balsamic vinegar (see Note)
1 cup (250 ml) crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) or black currant juice

1. Stand each fig, stem end up, on a cutting board. Trim off and discard the stem end of the fig. Make an X-shaped incision into each fig, cutting about one-third of the way down through the fruit.
2. Remove the duck from the refrigerator 10 minutes before cooking. With a sharp knife, make about 10 diagonal incisions in the skin of each duck breast. Make about 10 additional diagonal incisions to create a crisscross pattern. The cuts should be deep, but should not go all the way through to the flesh. (The scoring will help the fat melt while cooking and will stop the duck breast from shrinking up as it cooks.) Season the breasts all over with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. When the pan is warm place the breasts, skin side down, in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently until the skin is a uniform, deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully remove and discard the fat in the pan. Cook the breasts skin side up for 10 minutes more for medium-rare duck, or cook to desired doneness.
4. Remove the duck from the skillet and place the breasts side-by-side on the warmed platter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Tent loosely with foil and let the duck rest for at least 10 minutes, to allow the juices to retreat back into the meat.
5. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and the crème de cassis, and warm over low heat.

6. In a saucepan that will hold the figs snugly, arrange them tightly in a single layer, cut end up. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over the figs and cook over low heat, basting the figs with the liquid, for about 3 minutes.
7. Cut the duck breasts on the diagonal into thick slices, and arrange on the warmed dinner plates. Spoon the sauce over the duck slices, and arrange the figs alongside. Serve.


Almost any good southern Rhône red would be perfect here. Cassis is an overriding flavor in the wines of the region try the Côtes-du-Rhône- Villages Cairanne from the Domaine de l’Oratoire Saint Martin, the Réserve des Seigneurs, loaded with the spice of red and black currants as well as kirsch.


Substitute cherries for the figs, and Cherry eau-de-vie for the crème de cassis.