It's the season for recipes calling for fresh tomatoes.
We think of tomatoes as vegetables, but actually they are the fruit of a native South American vine. They’re also a member of the nightshade family along with potatoes and eggplant.
Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, have vitamins A and B with appreciable amounts of potassium, iron and phosphorus.
A medium tomato weighs in at only about 35 calories. Choose firm well-shaped tomatoes that are fragrant and richly colored for their variety. A tomato should have smooth unblemished skin and feel heavy for its size. For the best flavor, do not refrigerate. Simply store tomatoes at room temperature and use within a few days.
As a rule, I don’t peel tomatoes. However, to peel tomatoes, blanch them for about 15 to 20 seconds and drop them in cold water until cool enough to handle.
Right now, I eat tomatoes at every meal! In Barcelona a classic breakfast consists of a thick slice of toast smeared with the cut side of a fresh tomato (juice, seeds, pulp) slightly squeezed onto the toast topped with a few drops of olive oil, salt and pepper. Experience this breakfast treat with your morning coffee.
Here are but a few of my favorite tomato dishes this year. Bon appetit!
Fresh Tomato Sauce(About 2 cups)Olive oil for sautéeing
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon oregano or chopped flat leaf parsley
4 to 5 ripe fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
About 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 carrot peeled, and chopped
2 small zucchini, scrubbed and choppedTo prepare:Working in a medium saucepan over moderate heat, coat the bottom with oil. Add onion and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, add garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add more oil if necessary. If using carrots or zucchini, add the vegetables now and cook until soft and tender. Add herbs and tomatoes, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer, and add vegetable stock if the sauce is getting thick; stirring every now and then and cook about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the pan from the heat, let cool about 20 minutes. Working in batches, purée the sauce in a blender or food processor. (Pulse for a chunky sauce.) Transfer to clean glass jar and refrigerate. Or return to the saucepan and reheat just before serving.New Twist On Eggplant, Corn, Onion And Tomato Salad(Serves 4) Olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 Asian eggplants, cubed
3 to 4 ears corn, kernels cut off
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 medium red onion, diced
About 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 to 5 ripe fresh tomatoes, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon snipped chives for garnish
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or chopped pistachios for garnishTo prepare:In a skillet over moderate heat, coat the bottom with oil. Add garlic and sauté until aromatic, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add eggplants, sauté until just tender, and transfer to a bowl and reserve. Add oil if necessary and sauté corn about 2 minutes and transfer to the eggplant, toss with reserved garlic and tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Drizzle vinegar over the vegetables and let stand about 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon onto a shallow serving dish, arrange tomatoes on top and garnish with chives and nuts. Tomato Relish(Serves 6 to 8)About 3 large tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces (3 cups total — divided into 1 cup and 2 cups) with most of the seeds removed
2 medium sweet white onions, cut into bite-size pieces (2 cups total)
1 cup whole pitted black olives, drained
1 or 2 green peppers, cored and seeded, cut into thin lengthwise pieces
4 pitted black olives, sliced for garnish
For the dressing:
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon each chopped scallion, parsley, chives, basil, and/or summer savory
(5 tablespoons total)To prepare:Wash, core and chop tomatoes, set aside 2 cups. Place 1 cup of tomatoes in bottom of a clear glass-serving bowl.
Chop onions and evenly scatter 1/2 cup of them on tomatoes. Scatter 1/2 cup olives on the onions.
Wash, core and cut peppers in lengthwise pieces. Scatter 1/2 cup over the olives.
Continue layering the vegetables in order: tomatoes, onions, olives, peppers, onions, tomatoes and garnish with a few sliced black olives.
Meanwhile: In a mixing bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper, lemon juice, scallion, herbs, and chives together until blended. Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
To serve: uncover and drain off excess dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. With damp paper towels, clean the edges of the bowl and serve directly from the glass bowl.
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