It’s time to pick tomatoes from the vine

This tasty summer fruit is ready for harvest and use in a variety of dishes from sandwiches to salads

 

It’s time to harvest the annual tomato crop.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits around, offering a host of nutritional benefits while tasting good at the same time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every American eats more than 22 pounds of tomatoes a year — most in the form of ketchup or tomato sauce.

But this time of year, it’s tomatoes fresh off the vine that tempt people. Their flavor can’t be beat, and it marries well with most other foods.

Try making a simple caprese salad of halved cherry tomatoes with small pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, a little olive oil and salt.

Scoop out cherry tomatoes to create edible cups for fish or egg salads, herbed cheeses or caviar as an appetizer.

Medium-sized tomatoes can also be hollowed out to create a bowl for side dishes or filled with various stuffings for an edible side dish.

Just remember to turn the hollowed out tomatoes upside down to drain for about 10 minutes before filling them.

When picking tomatoes, choose those that are brightly colored and heavy. Avoid those with shriveled skin, blemishes, bruises or cracks.

Ripe tomatoes should yield to pressure, but not be too soft.

Don’t be afraid of tomatoes that are a light red or even green. They will ripen if you store them in a cool area away from direct sunlight.

Whatever you do, don’t store tomatoes in the refrigerator or you will lose flavor.

When cutting tomatoes, a serrated knife will work best.

If your tomatoes are overly acidic, add a sprinkle of salt and sugar to bring out the flavor. If you’re making sauce, add a grated carrot, which will dissolve and add sweetness but no hint of the carrot flavor.

And don’t use aluminum pots, cans or utensils. The acid in the tomatoes will react with the aluminum, making the cooked tomatoes bitter and potentially pitting and discoloring the cookware.

Combine tomatoes with herbs such as basil, oregano, marjoram, pepper, dill, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, celery seed, sesame seed, tarragon, chives or parsley.

Following are tomato recipes from www.southernliving.com.

 

southern living

Tomato Watermelon Sorbet

6 cups seeded ripe watermelon, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 very ripe large tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt, optional

    Combine watermelon, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir well. Let stand 30 minutes.
    Squeeze tomato quarters into a wire-mesh strainer over a 4-cup measuring cup. Place squeezed tomatoes into strainer and firmly press with back of a spoon until liquid measures 3 cups. Discard pulp in strainer.
    Process half the tomato juice and half the watermelon mixture in a blender until smooth. Repeat with remaining tomato juice and watermelon. Stir in lemon juice. Pour mixture into freezer container of a 2-1/2-quart electric ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    Sprinkle each serving with coarse salt, if desired.

 

 

Tomato Salad With Grilled Shrimp

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, mint, and/or chives
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds peeled and deveined large raw shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds small tomatoes, sliced or quartered
Garnishes such as fresh dill, basil, mint, and chives

    Whisk together extra virgin olive oil, herb, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, red pepper and garlic in a small bowl, then whisk in 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
    Arrange tomatoes on a large serving platter or in a large bowl and drizzle with 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Toss shrimp with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Grill shrimp, covered with grill lid, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink.
    Toss grilled shrimp with remaining vinaigrette over medium-high heat on a grate coated with vegetable spray.
    Arrange over tomatoes and serve.

 

Pickled Tiny Tomatoes

3 pints assorted grape tomatoes
2 cups seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, optional
1-1/2 cups water

    Pierce each tomato three times using a wooden pick or skewer, then place in a large glass bowl.
    Combine vinegar, sugar, garlic, pickling spice, salt and, if desired, ginger with 1-1/2 cups water, then bring to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, and pour over tomatoes. Cool one hour.
    Cover and chill 24 hours before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container as long as two weeks.

 

Tomato Tart

1/2 of a 15-ounce package refrigerated piecrusts
1 garlic bulb
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese
4 large tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

    Press refrigerated piecrust on bottom and up the sides of a square 9-inch tart pan. Bake in a 450-degree oven for nine minutes, until piecrust is lightly browned. Set aside.
    Cut off pointed end of garlic bulb, then place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold foil to seal. Bake in at 425-degree oven for 30 minutes, then cool.
    Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves into bottom of baked piecrust.    Sprinkle 1/2 cup fontina cheese over the garlic.
    Slice tomatoes, and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place on folded paper towels and let stand 10 minutes. Arrange tomato slices over shredded cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, until tart is lightly browned.

 

Two Tomato Linguini

6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
12 ounces uncooked linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 14.5-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 yellow tomato, seeded and chopped
Extra virgin olive oil, optional

    Combine 4 tablespoons parsley, 3 teaspoons lemon rind, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic in a small bowl to create gremolata. Set aside.
    Cook pasta according to package directions in a large Dutch oven, then drain. Return pasta to Dutch oven and set aside.
    Sauté remaining garlic in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for one minute, until lightly browned. Stir in petite diced tomatoes, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in remaining parsley, lemon rind and lemon juice.
    Pour tomato sauce over hot cooked pasta and toss to combine. Top each serving evenly with chopped yellow tomatoes and parsley mixture. Drizzle each serving evenly with olive oil, if desired.
    You may substitute 3/4 cup yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 red tomato, seeded and chopped, for yellow tomato.

 

 

Tortellini and Tomato Salad

2 9-ounce packages refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
Salt
Pepper

    Prepare tortellini according to package directions.
    Process olive oil, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt in a blender until smooth. Toss with hot cooked tortellini, tomatoes, corn, green onions and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Mouthwatering Marinated Tomatoes

2 pounds assorted tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves

    Gently stir together tomatoes, minced shallot, crushed garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside for 1-3/4 hours, tossing occasionally.
    Stir in basil leaves and Italian parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

 

Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
    
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch wedges
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

    Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
    Gently toss together chicken, tomatoes, onion, basil, chives, parsley and thyme in a large bowl. Add vinegar mixture and gently toss until thoroughly combined.
    Serve immediately with crusty bread to soak up the tomato juices or cover and let stand at room temperature for as long as one hour.

 

Grilled Flat Iron Steak With Charred Tomato Relish

6 medium-size plum or campari tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/2 pounds flat iron steak
1/4 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

    Toss together tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    Rub steak with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining salt and black pepper.
    Grill tomatoes over medium-high heat, turning often, for four to six minutes, until charred and softened. Remove from grill and let cool until ready to use.
    Grill steak eight to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and medium-rare. Transfer to a board, and let rest five to 10 minutes.
    Coarsely chop tomatoes and transfer to a medium bowl. Add parsley, vinegar, garlic, sugar, crushed red pepper and remaining olive oil and toss to combine.
    Slice steak against the grain and spoon tomato relish over top.

 

Sesame, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

1 pound tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 medium scallions, dark green parts only, thinly sliced
1 medium serrano or jalapeno chile, thinly sliced crosswise
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Arrange tomato and cucumber slices on a platter. Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over tomatoes and cucumbers and top with scallions, chile and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with remaining dressing.

Open Faced Tomato Sandwiches With Creamy Cucumber Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cucumbers, seeds removed, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
2-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for serving
6 slices Texas toast or other thick white bread slices, toasted
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds assorted fresh tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Thinly sliced chives

    Stir together cream cheese, cucumbers, red onion, dill, mint, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.
    Spread about 1/4 cup cucumber mixture onto each slice toasted bread. Top each with 2 to 3 tomato slices and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle tomatoes with chives, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Watermelon-Peach Salsa and Tomatoes
    
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups seeded and diced fresh watermelon
1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil sprigs for garnish

    Whisk together pepper jelly, lime zest, and lime juice in a bowl. Stir in watermelon, peaches, chopped basil and chives.
    Season halved baby tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then spoon into cocktail glasses. Top with salsa. Garnish, if desired.

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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