This is the time of year for tomatoes. They’re juicy, sweet and perfect. Now I know that they’re technically a fruit and not a vegetable, but for all intents and purposes, we treat them like a vegetable, so they’re sticking with the Summer Vegetables theme. So shut it. You can get them easily at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Any other time of year, the grocery store has pink, mealy orbs that they like to call tomatoes, but I find it hard to take them seriously. Any other time of the year, I stick to canned whole tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are actually pretty good. I choose the whole tomatoes usually, as they are less processed. They are perfect for making sauces and soups.
But this is the time of year that I get to savour fresh tomatoes. And it is great!
Tomatoes are really, really good for you, too. They are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been linked to prevention of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is much more readily absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked and served with a fat source (ie olive oil).
Some great ways to enjoy tomatoes this time of year are to treat them simply and just let them shine. You don’t have to do too much to make a fresh, vine ripened tomato taste great. I really enjoy tomato sandwiches on fresh, home made bread. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll make BLT’s. I make an herbed mayonnaise (really good with basil), fry up some bacon and add some fresh lettuce. I then take a thick slice of a fresh, beautiful tomato and quickly toss it in the bacon fat and let it sizzle for a minute or so on each side. A little grind of pepper (salt not really needed as there’s bacon) and it’s good to go. That’s heaven in sandwich form, minus the annoying harps.
Tomatoes are also great served as Caprese salad. Alternate slices of tomatoes with slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if so inclined. A sprinkle of fleur de sel and fresh pepper and you’re good to go. If you find some beautiful heirloom tomatoes, this is an awesome application for them.
If you have a lot of tomatoes and you want to make them last a little longer, you should oven roast them. Oven roasted tomatoes are like candy (disclaimer: do NOT give these out on Hallowe’en unless you really like cleaning egg off your house. Little ingrates…). Just chop the tomatoes (half for smaller tomatoes, quarters for large), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can add some garlic if you like, but I like to keep these simple. Place on a cookie sheet cut side up. Roast in a low oven, about 275 F for about 3 hours. They will shrivel up and dry a little. These are amazing. Add them to salads, soups and bare hands to shove into your face. Delicious.