TOMATOES IN ABUNDANCE:
WAYS TO ENJOY TOMATOES WITHOUT A RECIPE
This year we have the greatest crop of tomatoes: cherries and heirloom. This is what I believe about homegrown tomatoes: the less done with them, the better since their flavor and texture is just perfect right now.
Some of the ways I enjoy tomatoes right now….and no recipes are necessary!
· BLTs: don’t get better than right now! Everyone knows how to make a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
· Tomato sauce: Cook down all your tomatoes: they don’t have to be plum tomatoes, but only use the nice ripe ones and cut off blemishes. Then put them through a food mill. If you don’t have one, I suggest you invest in one. I use mine for applesauce, tomato sauce, and raspberry sauce. After you’ve put them through the mill, cook the sauce down some more until it is the consistency that you like. Be careful not to burn your sauce! Watch and stir.
At this point you have three choices: 1) freeze as is, 2) add fried peppers and onions and cook together a while longer and eat right away or 3) freeze the version with peppers and onions. You also need to add crushed garlic at the last minute so the taste of garlic stands out, and you add salt and pepper. But I advise not using other spices if you really want the tomato taste to shine through. Tonight we had a perfect meal with fresh pasta (linguini) served with the sauce I described above and some fresh parmesan.
· Tomato soup. Same as above, without the peppers, blended in a blender and with cream added if you’d like. A pinch of allspice is a little secret that enhances the flavor without overpowering the tomato flavor.
Tomato salad done several ways:
· Cherry tomatoes halved with fried pine nuts, basil, olive oil and salt to taste.
· Tomato and Cucumber salad: tomatoes peeled and cubed, and added to cucumbers peeled and cubed about the same size. Dress with good olive oil and salt. And if you’d like, add some balsamic vinegar.
· Dried cherry tomatoes. If you have a dehydrator you can cut the tomatoes in half and dry them as is…or add some salt. You can just pop them in your mouth. They're like candy.
· Tomato omelet; Peel the tomato, dice and fry in olive oil until just beginning to brown. Set aside, Then chop up some sweet onion and fry slowly until caramelized. Mix together, set aside and use as a filling for an omelet. If you want to make it “over the top” you can add some gruyere cheese to the omelet.
· Tomatoes on a platter with mozzarella, basil, and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
· A wonderful “sub” using fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and pesto. I used to make these for picnics with the kids. I would take a baguette and half it lengthwise. I’d then spread the goat cheese on one side and the pesto on the other and the tomatoes went in the middle. I’d wrap it up and when we got to the picnic, I’d slice it into portions. If it was going to be a while before we ate, I’d add the tomatoes at the last minute.
· Oven dried plum tomatoes Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a silipat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these.Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes. Check them often. You can eat them as is or served on toasted slices of baguette with goat cheese.
· And of course: gazpacho. If you have some extra tomatoes from one of the tomato or tomato and cucumber salads this is the start of your gazpacho. All you do is peel tomatoes, add some cucumber and only peel them if you need to. Add a little onion,( not too much) and some garlic: not too much of this either. I you like bell peppers, add some as well. Cut up some stale (or not stale) bread into cubes. Blend together in food process and add some red wine vinegar and some good olive oil. Add some salt and taste. You may need to balance with some more vinegar. When it tastes right, refrigerate overnight until it’s well chilled. Before serving taste again and adjust the for taste. Gazpacho can be served in shot glasses for an elegant presentation.