A popular all around choice for cooking

 

Nikki ElkjerNo matter how you say it, the tomato is fabulous and nutritious. This fruit (actually a vegetable) is available year round but is at its finest come July and August. Originally from Peru, the tomato was imported into Spain in the mid-sixteenth century. For the next 200 years it was thought poisonous and remained an ornamental plant dubbed the “love apple.” Imagine the lovely surprise of discovering the pungent, sweet flavor of the red beauty!

Cooked or raw, in salads or sauces, tomatoes are fruits for resourceful cooks and lend an excellent addition to any plate. The numerous varieties of tomato are distinguished according to shape and size: round, elongated, or oval; ribbed or flattened; large or tiny. Some are used while still green or yellow. Fresh tomatoes must be firm, fleshy, and shiny, without wrinkles or cracks. Green tomatoes ripen quickly in a warm spot like a kitchen windowsill.

For recipes that call for peeled tomatoes, use the following method:

  1. In a large sauce pan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Wash tomatoes and remove the stems.
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, cut an X into the bottom of the tomato, just deep enough to penetrate the skin.
  4. Fill a large bowl with an ice bath (ice and cold water) and place it next to your sauce pan.
  5. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water. Once the skins start to prune and pull away (about 20 seconds), remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and immediately place into the ice bath.
  6. Allow the tomatoes to cool. Then use your paring knife to cut the skin around the center of the tomato. The top and bottom skins will easily peel away.


Print Recipe
Layered Bread and Tomato Salad with Tapenade Vinaigrette
A take on the traditional panzanella salad. The trick is curing the tomatoes so that the salt draws moisture from them and intensifies their flavor.

Ingredients

  • Croutons
  • 8 thick slices French bread
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • Vinaigrette
  • 2 large shallots peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 30 Niçoise olives or other medium black olives, pitted
  • 3 anchovies rinsed if salt-packed
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • Salad
  • 4 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 large shallots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup mozzarella balls thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • black pepper freshly ground, to taste

Instructions

Croutons
  1. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toast, turning each piece once, until golden and crunchy, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Vinaigrette
  1. Combine shallots, garlic, vinegar, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the shallots are soft and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Pulse the olives, anchovies, and capers in a food processor, and then add the shallot and vinegar mixture. With the processor running, add the oil and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
Tomatoes
  1. Arrange the tomatoes in a single overlapping layer in a shallow dish. Season them with about ½ tsp. salt, pepper, and the oil. Spoon about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette over the tomatoes and set them aside to marinate for about 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Assembly
  1. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juices. Dunk the croutons in the reserved tomato juices. Place the greens in a small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. of the vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; toss to coat. Place a few slices of bread on each plate and top with several tomato slices and a handful of greens. Repeat adding another layer of bread and tomatoes, ending with greens. Drizzle each plate with a little vinaigrette and serve.



Print Recipe
Basic Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cupa yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 8 tomatoes whole and peeled

Instructions

  1. Boil the tomatoes and remove skins; set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Crush the tomatoes and add them, along with the juices, to the pan. Add fresh herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring often. If the sauce appears too thick, consider adding some chicken or vegetable stock to thin and flavor. You should have about 5 cups.



Print Recipe
Tomato, Basil, and Ricotta Tart
This is lovely with a spicy cabernet.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • salt
  • black pepper freshly ground, to taste
  • 12 oz ready-prepared puff pastry
  • 8 oz fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup fresh basil chopped into thin pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until soft and dried.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface until ⅛ inch thick. Cut into an 8x12 rectangle. Place on a non-stick baking sheet.
  3. Over a bowl, press the ricotta through a mesh sieve to remove excess liquid. Place the ricotta, parmesan, and eggs in a food processor and blend until smooth, and then stir in fresh basil. Spread the filling over the pastry base, leaving about a half-inch border, and then lightly press the tomatoes into the ricotta filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is set and the pastry is golden. Cut into triangles and serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon over the top.



Print Recipe
Spicy Bloody Mary Mixture

Ingredients

  • lbs fresh Campari tomatoes
  • 3 fresh carrots grated
  • 3 ribs celery chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp horseradish root grated
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
  • lemon juice from two lemons
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper sauce
  • tsp celery bitters

Instructions

  1. Chop the tomatoes and transfer to a blender. Blend until pureed; then strain over a bowl to get 2 to 3 cups of liquid. Discard the solids. Add celery and carrots to the blender and process until pureed. Strain over the tomato juice bowl, again discarding the solids. Stir together the remaining ingredients and add to the liquid, mixing well. Taste for spiciness and saltiness; adjust if needed.
  2. Funnel the mixture into a jar or bottle and shake well. The mixture keeps in the refrigerator for about one week. To prepare the drink, add about 4 ounces to a few ounces of gin or vodka, over ice. Stir well and finish with jalapeño stuffed olives, pepperoncini, and a few celery stalks.

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