Time to enjoy a bountiful crop of tomatoes

Delicious fresh from the vine, they can be the centerpiece of the meal or a superb supporting player


It’s that time of summer so many people look forward to — time to start harvesting the annual tomato crop.

Make tomatoes the centerpiece of your meal or use them to enhance the other flavors on the table. After all, tomatoes fresh off the vine can’t be beat.

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 catsup or tomato sauce.

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 if tomatoes are 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 they 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.delish.com.



Grilled Skirt Steak With Blistered Tomatoes and Guacamole

1-1/2 pounds skirt steak
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 avocados, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for serving
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup yellow grape tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
    Place steak in a shallow glass baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together cumin, coriander, garlic, two tablespoons lime juice and two tablespoons olive oil. Pour mixture over steak, turning to coat, and marinate 10 minutes.
    In a medium bowl, mash together avocado, onion, cilantro, red pepper flakes and remaining lime juice until chunky, then season with salt.
    In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
    Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill tomatoes about four minutes, until blistered, then remove and increase heat to high. Place steak on grill and season with salt and pepper. Grill three minutes per side for medium-rare, then let rest five minutes.
    Thinly slice steak against the grain. Top with blistered tomatoes and cilantro and serve with guacamole.



Heirloom Tomato Tart With Ricotta and Basil

1 14-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
5 heirloom tomatoes, various sizes and colors
2 cups fresh ricotta
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
    On a floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle, then transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper and prick with fork. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, then let cool completely on cooling rack.
    Thinly slice tomatoes and lay out on paper towels to absorb some liquid. Lay more paper towels on top and gently press to absorb additional moisture.
    In medium bowl, stir together ricotta and olive oil until creamy, then season with salt and pepper.
    Spread ricotta mixture over cooled puff pastry, leaving 1/2-inch border on edges. Arrange tomatoes on top and sprinkle with basil. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
    Cut into six squares and serve.


Tomato Bun Tuna Melts

2 6-ounce cans of tuna, drained
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large tomatoes
2 cups shredded yellow cheddar
    In a large bowl, combine tuna, onion, parsley, mayo, mustard and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
    Slice tomatoes into thirds, reserving middle section for another use. Place tops and bottoms, face side up, on a baking sheet. Spread tuna mixture on bottom halves and top with cheddar. Season top halves with salt and pepper.
    Broil four to five minutes, until cheddar is melted and golden.



Best Homemade Salsa

2 jalapeños, halved, stems removed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 white onion, quartered
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup. fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes

    On a large baking sheet, toss jalapeños, cherry tomatoes, and onion with oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, until slightly charred.
    In a food processor, place roasted vegetables, quartered tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season with remaining salt and pepper, then pulse a few times until mostly blended and slightly chunky.


Caprese Chicken Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2-1/2 cups milk
5 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces ricotta
1 large egg
4 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Balsamic glaze, for drizzling
    In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook lasagna noodles until very al dente. Drain.
    In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season chicken with oregano, salt and pepper. Cook eight minutes, until golden and cooked through. Add balsamic vinegar and half the garlic to pan and stir until combined. Transfer to a plate.
    Bring skillet back to medium heat and melt butter. Add remaining garlic and cook one minute, until fragrant. Add flour and cook one minute, until golden. Add milk and simmer three minutes, until thick and creamy, then add Parmesan and one cup mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper.
    In a small bowl, stir together ricotta and egg and season with salt and pepper.
    In a large baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce. Add a layer of lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping, and top with about a third of ricotta mixture, a third of the tomatoes, a third of the basil, a third of the cooked chicken, another layer of sauce, and a third of mozzarella. Repeat for a total of three layers, ending with mozzarella.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Garnish with basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze before serving.


Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
3 slicing tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
4 slices mozzarella
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
    In a small bowl, combine oil, half the lemon juice, one teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and Italian seasoning. Whisk to combine. Transfer to a large re-sealable bag along with chicken, seal and refrigerate 30 minutes.
    Heat grill over medium-high then add chicken, discarding excess marinade. Grill five to seven minutes per side, until charred and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
    Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper. While chicken is on grill, top each breast with one slice mozzarella and cover for two to three minutes, until cheese is melted. Top chicken with tomato mixture.
    Garnish with Parmesan and serve.



Breakfast Tomatoes

3 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 tablespoon chives, thinly chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
    Preheat oven to 400° and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
    Slice tops off tomatoes and hollow with a metal spoon. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
    Bake in 400-degree oven 10 minutes, until softened slightly. Crack eggs into center and bake another 12 to 15 minutes, until egg is cooked to your preference. Season with more salt and pepper and garnish with chives and Parmesan. Serve.


Zucchini Tomato Bake

1 pound zucchini, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons torn basil, for garnish
    In a large bowl, combine zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
    Transfer vegetables to a small baking dish, then sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 33 to 35 minutes, until golden.
    Garnish with basil and serve.



Bruschetta Shrimp Pasta

Kosher salt
1 pound angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Fresh basil, for garnish
    Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon olive oil. Add shrimp and season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook two to three minutes per side, until pink and fully cooked through, then set aside.
    Add remaining oil to skillet. Add garlic and cook one minute, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook two minutes more, then stir in heavy cream and Parmesan and let simmer two minutes. Add pasta and shrimp and toss until combined.
    Garnish with basil and serve.



BLT Stuffed Avocados

2 avocados, halved and pitted
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded romaine
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
    Scoop out avocados, leaving a thick border. Dice scooped avocado and set aside.
    In a large bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt and lemon juice. Add romaine, tomatoes and bacon and season with salt and pepper.
    Fill avocado halves with salad and season with more pepper.



Tomato Cucumber Feta Salad

1 large cucumber, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, chickpeas and onion.
    In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add to large bowl and toss to combine.
    Top with feta and cilantro and serve.



Best Parmesan Tomato Chips

15 assorted tomatoes, sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    On a large, paper towel-lined plate, arrange tomatoes, cover with another paper towel, then press out juices. Place tomatoes on a cooling rack that’s been coated with cooking spray and placed atop a large baking sheet. Lightly drizzle tomatoes with olive oil, then season generously with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
    Bake in a 275-degree oven for three hours, checking every 30 minutes, until tomatoes are completely dried out and beginning to crisp up.
    Remove from oven and heat broiler. Sprinkle tomatoes with Parmesan, then broil on low for one to two minutes, until cheese is melted.
    Cool, then remove from cooling rack. Garnish with additional salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, if desired, and serve.



Taco Tomatoes

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1-ounce packet taco seasoning
4 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/4 cup sour cream

    In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook five minutes, stirring, until soft. Add ground beef and taco seasoning. Cook eight minutes, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Drain fat.
    Flip tomatoes so they’re stem-side down and slice into six wedges, being careful not to cut all the way through. Carefully spread open wedges.     Divide taco meat among tomatoes, then top each with cheese, lettuce, and sour cream before serving.



Best Caprese Garlic Bread

1 loaf ciabatta, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish
    Place ciabatta cut-sides up on a large baking sheet.
    In a medium bowl, stir together butter, garlic and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spread on ciabatta halves and bake in a 30-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.
    In a small saucepan, simmer balsamic vinegar and honey, for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced by half. Glaze should be thick enough to coat back of a spoon. Let cool.
    Top toasted ciabatta with mozzarella and tomatoes and bake five to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.
    Drizzle garlic bread with oil and balsamic glaze, garnish with basil, and slice.




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Ozaukee Press

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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