Post # 404 It’s Tomato Time!

August 19, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

We went to our favorite veggie stand on Saturday.  We loaded up on fresh veggies, fruit juices, ice cream.  And I got several ripe tomatoes, large ones.  Red and juicy, they were picked that morning at their peak.  I smiled, realizing I still had several weeks of fresh picked tomatoes to get through.  I love this time of year.  But it always leaves the question, what’s the best thing to do with fresh tomatoes?  When we were kids, I’d pick a tomato off the vine, brush the sand off it, and eat it warm from the sun.  One of my friends griped to my mom about.  “It’s disgusting,” he said.  “He eats it like a peach.”  Mom replied, “Yeah, one of the best ways to eat a tomato.”

I wasn’t feeling my best earlier in the week.  I was up late a couple of nights working on a writing project which I managed to complete a major step on.  I picked up a light touch of a stomach bug going around.  On Monday, my appetite was starting to come back and I was suddenly hungry for one of those tomatoes.  I cut the top end and bottom end of one off and ate them while building a tomato sandwich.  I had fresh made bread and the size of the tomato was the same size as a slice of bread.  I sliced the tomato into four equal slices and put on slice on each slice of bread and sprinkled them very lightly with salt.  I topped two slices of tomato with cheddar cheese slices then put the other slice of tomato and bread face down on top of the cheese.  Bread, tomato, cheese, tomato, bread.  Two of ’em.  Ripe and juicy tomatoes.  They were so good.  I still had plenty more.  We had a salad last night that took half of one more tomato.

There’s always the stuffed tomato.  The way I like them.  I make a savory chicken salad and cut the tomato into wedges without cutting all the way through the bottom.  I spread the wedges apart and stuff the chicken salad into all the crevices and open spaces.  Chill and eat.

Stuffed Tomato 01

But there are other things you can do with tomatoes and I’m going to tell you about a couple.  These two dishes can be made to feed one or two people, or a crowd.  They’re simple, look elegant, and are so tasty.

First one is a baked stuffed tomato.  It’s a hot version of the above, but uses a different stuffing.

Tomato Baked and Stuffed

Take two large tomatoes and cut the top off and discard.  Use a spoon and gently remove seeds and pulp placing them in a bowl.  Brown a half pound of bulk breakfast sausage, drain, and cool.  Shred a cup of cheddar cheese.  Finely chop several leaves of fresh mint and mix with a half cup of panko bread crumbs.   Use aluminum foil to make rings for the tomatoes to sit in.  Mix all other ingredients together, using only enough of the reserved tomato pulp and seeds to moisten the rest.  Divide the stuffing between the two tomatoes being careful not to break the tomatoes.  Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and parsley.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes until cheese is melted and brown and tomato skins are wrinkled.  Serve warm with toasted bread and a salad.

The other one is a tomato tart.  You can make this for one for eight.

Tomato Tart

There are a bunch of different ways to make a tomato tart, but this is an easy way to do it.  Thaw out a package of puff pastry and heat your oven to whatever temp the package says.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  When the puff pastry is thawed, cut a piece for the bottom section large enough to hold the number of tomatoes you’re going to use.  Then cut strips of pastry to build up the sides.  Use three strips per side.  Then it’s time to get creative.  I generally put grated cheese on the bottom and I mix up the kinds of cheese I use.  You can also omit the cheese and just put olive oil brushed on the bottom.  Then sprinkle chopped herbs, either fresh or dried, remembering that dried herbs have a more powerful flavor so you need less.  Then sprinkle some fresh capers, and some chopped olives of various types if you want them.  You can also sprinkle chopped anchovies if you like them.  Sprinkle finely minced garlic evenly over the crust, then add some bacon bits, or prosciutto slices.  Then take your tomatoes and cut them in thick slices.  Arrange them on the pastry crust either overlapping or in a single layer as shown above.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the tomatoes, then a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with a little salt and a little of the same herbs you used in the crust.  Bake according to the puff pastry instructions so the pastry puffs and browns properly and the tomatoes cook through.  Cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve.



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