Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomato Fest - Now That's My Kinda Fest!

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In case you haven't heard, Deb from Dinner Tonight and Margaret from A Way To Garden have been hosting a cross blog food fest every Thursday for the last few weeks and this week is all about Tomatoes.  I am so down with this topic but before I go on I have two complaints for Deb and Margaret. 

  1. The Tomato should have been first because it's way more awesome than even, *gasp*, sliced bread.
  2. The Tomato deserves an entire week!  How can one possible sing the praises of the glorious tomato in one day? 

I cannot remember when my love affair with the tomato started, but I know I've loved them longer than any boy, pet or favorite pair of shoes.  From the plain old tomato sandwich to the runny-nose inducing Arrabbiatta sauce, the tomato is the most versatile delicious food ever.  They are great served raw or cooked and even though I don't have a prostate, they are good for your prostate!

When I started growing my own tomatoes last year, my tomato love affair morphed to new levels as I tried new varieties and made things that I struggle to justify purchasing ($$) at the grocery.   Here's what I'm doing with my tomatoes these days. 

The Basic Tomato Sammich (see actual tomato sammich here)

Spread mayonnaise liberally on 2 pieces of good quality whole grain bread.  Place thickly sliced tomatoes (choose meaty ones like Brandywine) on bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper on tomatoes.  Enjoy sandwich with plenty of napkins to wipe the tomato juice from your chin.  Mom, I still haven't forgiven you for growing me up with salad dressing instead of mayo.  It is because of you that I missed out on 30 years of tomato-sandwich-goodness.  Shame on you!

Homemade Salsa

Place whole ripe tomatoes and whole ripe jalapenos on heated barbecue grill until skins of tomatoes break away from the flesh.  Peal skin from tomatoes and remove core, then throw them in the blender and pulse to chop.  Pour blended tomatoes in bowl then add one coarsely chopped tomato (with skin), thinly chopped jalapenos (be sure to remove the seeds or you'll catch on fire), the juice from 1/4 of a fresh lemon, salt and pepper, a couple tablespoons of white vinegar and whatever fresh herbs you like (try basil or oregano or cilantro).  Chill the salsa for a couple of hours before serving so that the flavors marry.  This recipe came from a Mexican girl I work with who makes the best salsa ever.  In the words of my future father-in-law "this is perfect salsa! Not too hot, it's just right." 

2008_0814image0011 Sundried Tomatoes

Cut ends off of paste tomatoes like Roma, San Marzano or Heirloom Sausage tomatoes (I grew sausage for the first time this year).  Cut tomatoes in half long-ways.  Place on food dehydrator far enough apart that the tomatoes are not touching.  Dry until leathery.  Place in jar and fill with olive oil.  I adore sundried tomatoes on homemade pizza but rarely buy them because they are so expensive.  I plan to dry enough to last the entire year so goodbye expensive store bought sundried tomatoes!

Give Away Tomatoes

One of my favorite things to do with my tomatoes is give them away to people who love tomatoes but don't grow them.  I send small sealed bags of cherry and grape tomatoes with my guy to work where he gives them to his favorite tomato loving coworkers. The best part is writing "organic cherry/grape tomatoes" on the package. 

I could go on and on about the great things you can do with the magical tomato but in the interest of time I'll stop here and send you over to Dinner Tonight for more tomato-awesomeness.  I'm off to dehydrate my next batch of tomatoes before work!

What's your favorite thing to do with tomatoes?

6 comments:

  1. Gina, my favorite thing to do with tomatoes is sprinkle them with a little salt and eat them out of hand. I haven't grown any myself in a long time but all of you veggie growers are inspiring me to try again. I'm going to start with cherry tomatoes since I know I can be successful with those. I've already bought two pots of Sweet Millions, both of which have two plants in them. That should get me through the fall.

    I grew up with Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise, too. I've started using the latter recently and like you, wish I'd done so sooner!

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  2. I live near Reynoldsburg, Ohio and it is the "birthplace of the tomato", calling itself such because it is the home of Alexander Livingston who domesticated the tomato and began experimenting with different varieties and marketing the seeds. Every September they have a Tomato Festival (www.reynoldsburgtomatofestival.org) with competitions, concessions, and the crowning of our tomato queen.

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  3. I'm going to dry my first batch of Principe Borghese tomatoes today, but we're always happy when we make the first fresh salsa of the year. We've had that a couple of times so far.

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  4. Thanks Gina, for following La Marguerite on Twitter! Love your blog. The pictures especially. I started a garden too a while ago, although mine does not get much TLC.. . Still MY tomatoes are going crazy!

    This post will tell you how naive I am about gardening matters:

    http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/tale-from-an-urban-gardener/

    marguerite

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  5. My favorite thing to do with tomatoes is to cut them into wedges, sprinkle them with a little bit of sea salt and scoop them up with a huge basil leaf. YUM.

    That said, I haven't been able to do that just yet. I've only had two ripe so far, and I've eaten those right out of hand (and a dirty hand, at that) in the garden. That's pretty nice, too, as it feels very decadent and any juice that dribbles off your chin ends up back in the garden soil. *grin*

    By the way, add me to the "grew up with Miracle Whip" category. I never knew why so many people raved about the taste of mayonnaise until I tried the real stuff!

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  6. Our favorite way to eat tomatoes is to slice them, drizzle with a good Olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano, basil, garlic, salt & pepper.
    A close second is....Salsa!

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