The first thing I did when I received Chef Chris Behr’s Marinated Green Tomato recipe was chuckle about how out of touch chefs are—even ones who, like Behr, interface daily with home cooks shopping for ingredients. Taking just one look at Behr’s recipe, I immediately reduced the quantities by half, saying to myself “who wants five pounds of marinated green tomatoes?!”
Well, it turns out I do, and I’ve been slapping myself on the forehead ever since. Picture the lovechild of a garlic, oil and herb-marinated tomato slice, and a crunchy bread-and-butter pickle chip. In other words, picture The Best Thing You Could Possibly Put on a Cheese Sandwich. Not to mention a BLT, as the good folks at the Larder will start doing come early fall, when red tomatoes become scarce. These unusually delicious, pale green slices of sandwich sublimity will last in your fridge for weeks. Or they could, in theory.
I take comfort in the promise that Behr will be rolling out a fresh mozzarella sandwich starring the marinated greens shortly, so once I’ve sopped up every delicious bit of garlicky, minty, chili-spiked oil, I can head to the Larder for my fix. But pickling and marinating tomatoes, while utterly simple in itself (just simmer, then wait a day, essentially), is the sort of thing I don’t get around to doing very often, and I can’t stop kicking myself for not making the full recipe. For one, a jar of these guys would make a lovely gift, if I felt I could part with any.
So, have I convinced you to run out and buy green tomatoes, or to pick your own tomatoes early? Phillips Farm promises to have some this coming Saturday at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. And of course, you can buy marinated green tomatoes at Brooklyn Larder any time you want, right up until fall. But please, whether you buy them or make them, learn from my mistake and go whole hog.
Marinated Green Tomatoes
Makes about 2 quarts
For the tomatoes:
5 pounds green tomatoes, sliced crosswise ½-inch thick, top and bottom discarded
1 cup salt
1 cup garlic, sliced paper thin
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried chile flakes
1 cup mint leaves, torn
For the pickling liquid:
2 quarts white wine vinegar
1 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup sugar
1. Layer the sliced tomatoes in a colander, generously salting each slice as you layer. Allow to drain for one hour.
2. Gently fry the sliced garlic in olive oil over low heat. Do not let the garlic get brown. Once it begins to soften, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Combine all the pickling liquid ingredients and bring to a boil.
4. In small batches, drop the tomato slices in the boiling liquid. Cook for 2-3 minutes, each piece should be cooked but still retain some crunch. Allow to cool.
5. Layer the cooked slices in a 2-3 quart casserole, sprinkling each layer with chile flakes, torn mint leaves, and the garlic and oil mixture. If needed, add more olive oil to just barely cover the tomatoes.
6. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks (add olive oil as needed to ensure the tomatoes stay submerged).
Suggestions from Chef Chris Behr:
The tomatoes are a perfect foil for a fatty piece of meat, like a ribeye steak or pork shoulder chop. (You could even chop them finely, adding fresh parsley and mint, to make a green tomato relish to top the meat)
They're also great in a green salad, tossed with generous shavings of ricotta salata.
For longer storage, can the tomatoes using proper canning technique, inserting a sprig of mint in each jar in place of the torn leaves; serve with additional fresh mint as desired.