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What's cookin: She's back! with a repertoire of time-honored recipes

Summer's luscious ruby bulbs accent salads, soups and casseroles or are a star on their own right.

Editor's note: Linda Smith, former Enterprise food columnist, will once again assume the role, sharing recipes for the season and occasion. Her columns will appear in the Saturday edition of the Enterprise.

What a glorious summer it has been for gardeners and our local farmers' markets. However, Mother Nature has decided we've had enough of those 90-degree days, and Jack Frost has been nipping at our vegetable gardens recently. Unless the members of your household have a keen desire for fried green tomatoes every other meal, cooks are getting a little desperate for what to do with all of those tomatoes they've picked this week, the ripe ones and the not-so-ripe varieties. I hope you'll enjoy some of my suggestions for what to do with your tomato bounty.

Basil-Baked Tomatoes

18 small Roma tomatoes

3/4 c. chopped fresh basil

7 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 c. olive oil

Salt to taste

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into halves. Arrange cut side up in a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with the basil and garlic; drizzle with the olive oil. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours; the tomatoes are done when shriveled but still moist. Cool to room temperature. Season with salt just before serving. Serve with baguette slices. Yields 9 servings.

Note: This versatile dish may be used as a pizza topping, a pasta topping or as an addition to grilled cheese sandwiches or tossed green salads.

Eggplant Tomato Casserole

1 large eggplant

1 1/2 t. salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 T. melted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 T. chopped onion

1/2 t. dried oregano

1 t. dried basil

1/2 c. dry bread crumbs

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice the eggplant. Place the slices in a saucepan with the salt and 2 to 3 inches of boiling water; cover tightly. Cook for about 10 minutes and drain, removing all the water by mashing the eggplant. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, eggs, butter, pepper, onion, oregano, basil and breadcrumbs. Butter a shallow 1 1/2-qt. baking dish and cover the bottom with half the tomato slices. Spoon in all the eggplant mixture and spread evenly over the tomatoes. Arrange the rest of the tomato slices on top. In a separate bowl, combine the cheeses and sprinkle over the top layer of tomatoes. Add a sprinkle of paprika and bake for about 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Salsa to Can

6 c. diced onion

4 c. diced bell pepper

4 jalapeño peppers

8 large cloves garlic

2 T. ground cumin

3 T. oil

15 c. peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes

5 c. tomato juice

2 T. chopped fresh oregano

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 1/2 c. white vinegar

2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

In a large, non-aluminum soup kettle, sauté the onion, peppers, garlic and cumin in the oil until the

onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, oregano, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat

and simmer uncovered for 1 to 2 hours, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. The vegetables should

become soft but not mushy. Mix together cornstarch and vinegar. Stir into salsa and mix well. Stir in the

cilantro. Mix well. Pour the hot salsa into sterilized jars, covering with lids and rings and inverting until

sealed (1 to 2 hours).

Fresh Garden Pasta

4 large tomatoes, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

10 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. oil

1/3 c. chopped fresh basil

1 t. chopped fresh rosemary

2 fresh bay leaves

12 oz. dry pasta, cooked

Sauté tomatoes, pepper, onions and garlic in oil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir in basil, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour over pasta and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

3 T. butter

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c. fresh basil or 2 T. dried basil

3/4 t. sugar

1/8 t. white pepper

Pinch of Tabasco sauce

Sauté onion and carrot in butter until onions are translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered. Makes 2 servings.

Sauce or Soup for Hot Dish

Cut up:

1 qt. green peppers

1 1/2 qts. onions, diced

1 large bunch celery, diced

Put a little water (about 1 c.) on top of this and boil 20 minutes.

Then add:

5 or 6 qts. cleaned tomatoes, cut up

Bring to a boil and add:

3 T. sugar

3 T. salt

Mix well and bring to a boil. Put in sanitized jars and process in water bath for 30 minutes. Makes about 9 quarts of soup or hot dish base.