WHAT'S COOKING

Volume 2 Issue 8

cyberchef@cyberchefs.net

August, 1999

Tomatoes

YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY TOMATO...

Nothing is more of a symbol to the high quality or success of a backyard garden than the tomato.

In summer and early fall, the sight of farm stands stacked with locally grown produce stacked in boxes or small baskets reminds us all that from the soil we can still reap something as sweet and juicy as a vine ripened tomato. Vine ripened tomatoes produce more sugar than hybrids produced for supermarkets.

These orange, cardboard textured tomatoes are produced by commercial breeders to have tough skins for travel and handling, and they are rumored to have the ability to ripen after being picked. I am still dubious about this claim and don't notice any difference in sweetness or flavor. They do get softer.

If you want to look beyond beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes, check out heirloom tomatoes. Many farmers are experimenting with old forgotten varieties and the amount of these depends on the particular market you are in. Heirlooms are from seeds passed down from generation to generation, many of which have unfortunately disappeared.

Go to www.seedsblum.com for more info on heirloom tomatoes and other heirloom produce. a  great book on all heirloom veg is HEIRLOOM VEGETABLE GARDENING by William Woys Weaver.
 

Tomatoes and their relatives, the family tree  is enormous, are believed to have  been grown and domesticated in South America, reaching a high state of cultivation in early Mexican cultures. The Aztec word tomatl means tomatillo. European explorers spread the tomato throughout Europe and Asia in the 16th century. The argument over it's classification as fruit or vegetable persists.
 
 Tomatoes cross all culinary lines. By that  I mean it is as delicious served simply sliced with salt and pepper to a fancy tomato aspic or consume.
Tomatoes are now used in every culture. From Italian sauces to Mexican salsas, there is no escape for the tomato. It was even consumed by American politics when the great debate swirled over Vice President Dan Quayle's misspelling of the word.

RECIPES

Tomato Eggplant Ragout

This is fast and sweetly delicious and is so diverse. It can be used as a vegetarian sauce on pasta or served cold with a nice fresh baguette or country bread

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes/ cubed
  • 2 medium eggplant/ cubed
  • 1 large onion/ diced
  • 6 cloves garlic/ smashed and diced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 C water
  • salt & pepper
In a heavy pot, sauté the garlic and onion with the olive oil
add the eggplant and sweat down for 5 mins.
Add the tomatoes
Add the rosemary, season
Cook at slow simmer for 20 mins.

Grilled Tomato Salsa

This is a wonderful summertime side dish but could be made year round.

  • 2# any tomatoes , yellow and red are nice/ cut in half
  • 2 red onions/ peeled and cut in half
  • 1 bunch cilantro/ washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 jalapenos
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1T toasted cumin seeds
  • juice of 1 lime
Grill the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos ( You want them to be blackened )
Pulse in a food processor
Add cilantro and toasted ground cumin, lime juice
Season to taste
 
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