Backyard gardens are great. You have vegetables whenever you want, and you get the satisfaction of reaping what you sow, literally. But sometimes there’s that one vegetable that seems to thrive just a little too well. It may be zucchini or cucumber, or perhaps the glorious tomato. Everyday you pick and pick, yet when another day comes, they seem to have multiplied like North Fork bunnies.
Northforker talked to George Giannaris, chef and owner over at Hellenic Snack Bar in East Marion to get his ideas on how to get the most out of your abundance of tomatoes. One of the restaurant’s best sellers is their Souvlaki sandwich, which is served with tomatoes.
“What we do is we slice the tomatoes moderately thin,” Giannaris said. “Then we marinate them with salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil. And that’s what we put on top of our Souvlaki sandwiches with marinated onions and yogurt sauce. We go through probably three or four acres of Latham tomatoes every year.”
The other part of those tomatoes goes on a dish called Saganaki, a type of Greek cheese. “You cut them up, marinate them with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano,” he said. “Then you put a slab of cheese on it and melt that off in the oven.”
At home, Giannaris changes pace a bit. With the same seven ingredients — tomato, feta, basil, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil — he made two different preparations. One is a barbeque stuffed tomato, where the inside of the tomato is scooped out and stuffed with the other six ingredients. The top of the tomato is then placed back on and the whole thing is cooked.
“You have two choices,” he said. “You could put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Or put it on your barbecue at medium high, which is about 400 degrees, for 20 minutes. Once you close that lid, you don’t open it.” You could also transform it into breakfast by sliding a crispy, fried egg on top.
The second way Giannaris prepared it was just as a simple salad — chop the tomato, crumble the feta and season with the herbs, salt and pepper.
For another breakfast option, puree the tomatoes raw, add olive oil, salt and pepper to a pan and bring it to a boil. “Drop it to a simmer, crack in two the eggs in it, so it poaches the eggs.” Serve with crostini.
For arguably the simplest and easiest way to use up and preserve your tomatoes, make sun dried tomatoes in the oven.
“Take the tomatoes, especially plum, slice them into just under quarter inch slices,” Giannaris said. “Put them on trays and pop them in the oven. Keep your oven on the lowest setting, leave the door open, and they dehydrate.”
5145 Main Rd, East Marion