Preserving the Vegetable GardenFriday, October 4
There is nothing more satisfying then heading to the garden to pick something fresh for dinner. The taste of a tomato fresh from the vine, sprinkled with a dusting of salt and a drizzle of olive oil just can’t be beat.
I know my 16-month-old daughter would agree. If I turn my back in the yard for even a moment, I am guaranteed to find her in the tomato plants, plucking the ripest looking one and eating it like an apple. Around our house we thoroughly enjoy every chance we get to take advantage of eating from our garden. From mid June when the first of the radishes and lettuces arrive, all the way until the last root vegetable is plucked in the fall, we really try to make the most of it. Sadly, though, it tends to be a case of feast or famine. When something is ripe, we can’t seem to eat it fast enough, sharing with friends and neighbours in an attempt to ensure nothing goes to waste. Before we know it though, it’s past its prime and we are forced to wait another year to enjoy the ultimate in local flavour.
A prime example of that this year would be our tomato plants. I don’t know what we did differently or if it was the weather, but my plants were the size of small trees, and I have managed to yield over 50 pounds of delicious tomatoes from only three plants. Despite the efforts of our hungry little lady, and eating tomatoes around the house morning, noon and night, we still can’t keep up. So we had to improvise, get creative. It started simple, preparing fresh tomato salsa, and then we began adding them to pasta dishes, stewing them for sauces, and even canning them to save for winter. This past weekend I even pulled out an old favourite that I hadn’t made in years, preparing a delicious tomato caper relish, to be served with fresh fish.
That’s what is so fun about cooking, getting inspired by quality fresh ingredients and putting together a wonderful meal. Try this tasty recipe that is sure to help you use up some of your garden ingredients and leave you wanting more.
Pan Seared Black Cod w/ Tomato Caper Relish
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Feeds: 4 people, with some extra relish to spare!
This is a great little dish that can be served with a creamy risotto, some quinoa, or even some rice pilaf. I also like serving it with halibut or even snapper. The relish also works very well on a fresh tuna salad or a sandwich. I have even served this with grilled chicken or tossed into a seafood pasta. It is very versatile and can allow you to enjoy the sumptuous taste of garden fresh tomatoes well into the winter season.
1.5 lbs. fresh black cod filets
¼ cup flour
4 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
12 large tomatoes, vine ripened
1 red onion
½ cup capers
¼ cup caper juice (great way to use the whole bottle!)
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 clove garlic
¼ bunch flat leaf parsley
First, let’s begin by preparing the relish! To do so, we must peel the tomatoes
Place a medium pot of water on to boil
Prepare an ice bath
Using a sharp paring knife, remove the core of the tomatoes, then turn the tomato over and score the skin by lightly slicing an X through it
Place the tomatoes into the water to soften the skin, this will take about a minute
Quickly remove the tomatoes from the pot and place them in the ice bath to cool them
Using the back of your paring knife gently peel away the skin of the tomatoes
Now quarter the tomatoes and large dice them
Large dice the red onions
Mince the garlic
Chop the parsley
In a medium pot heat the capers, caper juice, onions, garlic
Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, then add the tomato paste
Adjust the sugar, you are looking for a slightly tart, pickled tomato relish, but a little bit of sugar is required, not so much to make it sweet, but to take the tart edge off.
Adjust the seasoning and simmer for 8-10 minutes
Remove from the heat and allow the relish to cool
Once cool add the flat leaf parsley
Set aside enough of the relish for your meal and then preserve the rest by canning it. If stored in a cool cellar, it will last well through the winter
Now for the fish!
Preheat a non stick pan to medium-high heat
Portion the filets into roughly 6 oz. portions, ensuring all bones are removed
Pat the fish dry
Season the fish well on all sides
Lightly dredge the fish in flour
Place the oil and butter in the pan, followed by the dredged fish
Cook until golden brown and then turn over, 2-3 minutes
Repeat on the second side
Remove from the pan and serve
Top with tomato caper relish and enjoy!