As we think about turning the calendar from August to September, it’s not only those shorter days that remind us that fall is coming. One peek into the garden, replete with ripened tomatoes, reminds us that fall is almost here. Many of the kitchen gardens at the 11 Distinctive Inns of New England are offering up fabulous ripe yellow, orange and red tomatoes. In addition, DINE chefs are finding fabulous tomatoes at local farms and farmer’s markets. If you’re wondering what to do with all of those tomatoes in your gardens, you can do one of two things. Either bring your extras with you to share with your favorite DINE innkeeper during your next romantic getaway, or consider using one of our chefs’ fabulous recipes and think of us when you enjoy them. Best of all, they’re perfect for the vegetarians in the family too!
Heirloom Tomato Bisque from Rabbit Hill Inn
Yield: approx. 2 quarts
Have on Hand: cheesecloth, blender, mesh strainer
1 large Spanish onion, halved and very thinly sliced
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp butter, softened
8 – 10 large, ripe Heirloom tomatoes, core removed, large diced
2 fresh bay leaves, or 1 dry bay leaf
A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
1 Tbsp ground fennel seeds
1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 cups of heavy cream
Chili sauce, to taste (optional)
Red wine vinegar to taste
Salt & pepper
- In a large bowl of cold water, wash the leek slices well to remove dirt. Gently remove leeks from the water & set aside.
- Tie the bay leaves and thyme sprigs in cheesecloth to make a sachet. If you don’t have cheesecloth, tie the bundle tightly with string. Set aside.
- In a large/deep saucepan, over medium heat – add olive oil and butter. Once butter is melted, add the washed leeks and onions. Season with a couple of pinches of salt to help sweat the vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and leeks are translucent. Try not to get any golden color on the vegetables.
- Add tomatoes. Add the sachet of bay leaves and thyme. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cook the tomatoes until they have given off most of their liquid and they are very soft – about 30 minutes. Add spices (paprika, fennel seed, and coriander seed).
- Remove the sachet. Pour the contents of the pan into the blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. If possible, pass this soup through a mesh strainer. This makes the texture luxurious (but does not affect the taste).
- Pour into large container. Add heavy cream. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
- At this point, if the soup is a little thick, add some water to adjust consistency. It should have body, but not too thick. If you add water, be sure to re-season to taste with salt. Then, add chili sauce and red wine vinegar to taste as well.
- Chef notes: The key to this recipe is to use very ripe, in season heirloom tomatoes or garden grown tomatoes. The type of tomato isn’t super important. However, our chef prefers large red ones like Abe Lincolns or purple/black one (Black Krims). But really, as long as the tomatoes are ripe and delicious, the specific type is unimportant. You certainly can mix and match them too. This tomato bisque is better the day after you make it. But it certainly can be enjoyed right away.
- Yes, you can freeze this bisque. Defrost fully – if it appears “chunky”, simply stir vigorously or put it in the blender to reach desired consistency.
- This five-star velvety tomato bisque soup recipe will become your very favorite. It is rich, silky smooth, and packed with flavor. As a bonus, this bisque recipe is vegetarian friendly and gluten free.
RATATOUILLE from Chesterfield Inn (the perfect hearty, vegetarian fall dish)
Serves 6- 8 people
1 lb. Eggplant
1 lb. Zucchini
1 tsp salt
4 Tbs. Olive Oil (more if needed)
½ lb. (about 1 ½ cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
2 to 3 TBS Olive Oil if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (1 ½ C pulp)
Salt and pepper
- In a 3-quart mixing bowl, peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Dry each slice in a towel.
- In a 10 to 12-inch enameled skillet, one layer at a time, sauté the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.
- In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
- Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
- In a 2-½ quart fireproof casserole, place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with remaining tomatoes and parsley.
- Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Dave’s Tomato Butter Recipe from the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina
This Tomato Butter is similar to a “Sweet & Spicy” salsa/relish/chutney and adds a “distinctive” addition to egg strata’s, omelets, burgers, steaks, cheese platters and crostini’s. Guests also use it as a spread on toasts and bagels. It’s a wonderful end-of-summer treat.
42 oz. of Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes (1 large/28 oz & 1 small/14 oz can) or use the equivalent amount of fresh-from-the garden tomatoes diced
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
- In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients above and stir.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes then reduce heat to a low simmer ensuring the mixture is bubbling.
- Simmer on low heat until the mixture thickens; normally about 2 and ½ hours (yes, that long).
- After mixture thickens, let cool completely and store in refrigerator. The mixture should keep for up to 5 days.
Whether your plans allow for an end-of-the-summer culinary escape or outdoor adventure to DINE country, or you’re planning one in the fall, you can always keep DINE inns top-of-mind by preparing one of the fabulous meals you’ll find in their RECIPES section online. Don’t forget to book directly with your favorite DINE inn when you plan your next visit.
In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic.
Header: Breakfast at Grafton Inn, Grafton Inn Vermont photo.
Top photo: Tomato slices in Rabbit Hill Inn’s kitchen. Rabbit Hill Inn photo.