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Buried under piles of tomatoes? Three Quebec chefs come to the rescue

It has a tendency to creep up on you.One day you’re enjoying evening dinners on the patio, proudly serving up the vegetables you planted and tenderly cared for all summer.And then, all of a sudden, there it is. A frost warning.Your juicy tomatoes and spicy chile peppers need to get out of the garden, and fast, leaving you buried under piles of fruits and vegetables.CBC Quebec reached out to three chefs, with three very different takes, in search of the perfect tomato recipe to make the most of the fall harvest.Marinara sauceMario Russo remembers Sunday afternoons at his childhood home in Montreal would often turn into a boisterous, crowded affair.His parents, both from Naples, would lay out an assortment of tomatoes on the kitchen table, brushing the dirt off before slicing a small X on the bottom of the tomato.  “The whole family, we would all get together — peeling and charring the tomatoes, and after that we’d all sit down to eat together — it was incredible.”The X makes it easier to peel the tomatoes once they are plunged into boiling water, Russo explained. The tomato chunks are then put into jars and sterilized, providing a fresh base to make sauce throughout the winter.Russo now runs several restaurants in Montreal and recently opened the Birra & Basta Tavern in Quebec City, where he continues cooking his family’s traditional marinara sauce.The secret to the sauce, Russo said, is that “you have to sing to it.”Mario Russo’s marinara sauce:INGREDIENTS * 6 small mason jars of tomatoes * 1 bottle tomato passata * 2 onions * 3 tablespoons garlic * 4 tablespoons sugar * 2 tablespoons salt * 1 1/2 tablespoons pepper * 1 1/2 tablespoons dry basil * 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil * 6 tablespoons olive oil * 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes * 1 cup white wine * 1 bunch of fresh basilSTEPS * Put tomatoes in pot to boil, add sugar * In a small pot, fry garlic until golden then add onions. * Add 1 cup of white wine * Let simmer until it reduces by half * Once reduced to half, add to tomatoes * Always stir the sauce; once it starts boiling turn heat down to low * Always take out the foam on top to take out acidity * Cook for 45 minutes * Finally, add all spices, olive oil and one bunch of fresh basilAloo GobiDarryl Masih looks over a pot of simmering Aloo Gobi, an Indian classic he learned to cook from his mother.Even though the main ingredients are cauliflower and potatoes, tomatoes are key to any good Indian recipe, he said.”They’re like one of our best kept secrets,” Masih said.”It plays a really big part in the creation of curries, masala blends. And sometimes it does end up playing a leading part in most of my dishes.”Born in Toronto, Masih moved to Quebec City in 2006 to work as a DJ and event planner. Three years ago, he shifted gears and started offering chef-at-home catering services, complete with customized soundtracks for his dinner guests.Although he grew up eating mostly vegetarian dishes, his favourite is undeniably butter chicken, made with fresh tomatoes. “That’s what gives it that red, beautiful colour — along with whatever other spices that are added.”Darry Masih’s Aloo GobiINGREDIENTS * 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil * 1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces * 1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated, roughly chopped * 1 small green chili, chopped into small pieces (or one teaspoon chili powder) * 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut evenly into eighths * 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces * 16 ounces diced tomatoes  * fresh ginger, peeled and grated * fresh garlic, chopped * 1 teaspoon cumin seed * 2 teaspoons turmeric * 1 teaspoon salt * 2 teaspoons garam masalaSTEPS * Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan. * Add the chopped onion and one teaspoon of cumin seeds to the oil. * Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent. * Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt. * Add chopped chillies (according to taste) Stir tomatoes into onion mixture. * Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly. * Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn’t stick to the saucepan). * Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce. * Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked). * Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir. * Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry. * Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving.Green tomato ketchupKarine Daigle was on maternity leave from her job as an accountant when her life took a left turn. Her mother-in-law, who owns a produce farm on Île-d’Orléans, asked if she’d want to make bread-and-butter pickles to sell at the roadside kiosk.”I said ‘Sure, why not!’ And it just grew from there,” said Daigle.Eight years later, Daigle has expanded into jams, jellies and other classics, like green tomato ketchup.Perfect for the last few tomatoes that haven’t quite ripened by September, the important step is to salt the tomatoes and let them sit overnight, Daigle said, to extract the excess liquid.While many people think immediately of tourtière as the perfect canvas for fruit and green ketchups, Daigle said she uses it as a condiment on nearly everything, from sausages to grilled vegetables.She still uses her mother-in-law’s vegetables for her creations, which is why she called the business Compliments de Belle-Maman.”It’s kind of to pay tribute to her hard work.”Karine Daigle’s Green Tomato KetchupINGREDIENTS * 30 green tomatoes, diced * ¼ cup coarse salt * 8 onions, chopped * 4 apples, peeled, core removed and diced * ½ celery, chopped * 2 greens peppers, diced * 3 cups white vinegar * 5 cups sugar * 1/3 cup marinade spicesDIRECTIONS * In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with salt * Let stand for at least 8 hours, better overnight * Drain well * Put the pickling spices in a small cheesecloth bag * Combine vegetables with vinegar, sugar and spice bag * Cook for two to four hours over low heat, stirring occasionally. * When it tastes good, pour into hot, sterilized jars and boil in water for 15 minutes

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