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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Easiest-Easier-Easy: Tomatoes

I am not a tomato fan.  Really.  But I adore the smell of a tomato plant and a fresh tomato tastes NOTHING like a grocery store tomato, so we grow them with abandon come summer.  I'll wind up canning quite a few just as is or in tomato soup or pickled (talk to me in October about pickled green cherry tomatoes).

Other ways to use an abundance of fresh tomatoes include: canning, green beans with tomatoes, grilled marinated okra, oven-baked zucchini, frittata, tomato sauce (enchilada and pizza), tomato soup, Bloody Mary mix or any place else you'd used canned tomatoes or prepared tomato juice (just blitz the tomatoes in a processor or blender, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer for juice).

Easiest: Summer Salad
Makes 6 servings

This is so not a real recipe, but more an inspiration of how to incorporate tomatoes into a daily dinner plan when you're inundated with them.

4-5 small ripe tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 cucumber, halved and seeded
handful fresh herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon, chives, thyme, savory)
coarse ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

To seed the tomatoes, squeeze them gently once you've cut them in half.  Cut the seeded halves into wedges.  Slice the cucumber.  Toss the veg with the herbs, pepper to taste and olive oil.  No vinegar needed thanks to the acidity of the tomatoes. 

Easier: Salade aux tomates (Cocktail Tomato Salad)
Makes 4 servings

A French take on salad...one vegetable, perfectly ripe, with exquisite dressing.  The original version calls for a particular combo of flavored oil, flavored vinegar and booze, but I think there are myriad riffs on this "cocktail" theme...garlic oil, lime juice and tequila...white wine vinegar and gin...malt vinegar and beer...balsamic vinegar and rum...you get the idea.  Sub in whatever herbs and oil sounds good to you.

4 medium tomatoes, sliced
3 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Arrange tomato slices on a serving plate.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and drizzle over tomatoes.

Easy: Tomato "Pudding"
Makes 8 servings

This is a Two Fat Ladies recipe idea.  Does anyone else remember the Two Fat Ladies?  Or British cuisine?  A "pudding" in North American terms is a custardy dessert affair, while in Britain a "pudding" is pretty much any starchy dish, sweet or savory.  This "pudding" is a tomato salad packed into a bread shell and served in slices as a side dish or light main dish.  It is necessary to make this ahead by at least several hours, so it's a great party dish or at least puts the onus of making dinner off the "dinner hour".

You'll need a bowl to serve as a mold and a plate that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl's mouth.  I like my dome-shaped stainless mixing bowl which holds about 2.5 quarts and a regular "dessert" size plate.  Use as many slices of bread as it will take to cover the surface of the bowl, plus a "lid" for the bowl.  Use as many tomatoes as your bowl will hold.

about 6 large tomatoes, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
handful fresh herbs
1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
several slices dry bread

Mix tomatoes with garlic, oil, seasonings and herbs.

Mix the tomato puree with worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  Dip each slice of bread into the tomato puree, coating both sides.  Press into the bowl.  Tear pieces if necessary to cover every crevice.

Pour diced tomato mixture into bowl.  Press down.  Top with more slices of bread that have been dipped into the tomato puree. 

Put a plate on top of the bowl.  Put a weight, like a 2 lb can, on top of the plate and refrigerate overnight. 

To serve, remove the weight and plate.  Invert the bowl over a large plate.  Cut the pudding into wedges and serve with a light dinner. Pin It

1 comment:

  1. I watch Two Fat Ladies, usually when I cannot sleep. I think they come on Cooking channel. Some of their dishes are odd. Because of them, I bought The National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Book. Have not dared try anything yet. Darrol