Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Easy pickings: Variety of recipes put seasonal tomatoes to use

August 20, 2008


August is the all-too-brief time of year when tomatoes are the obvious star of any recipe. If your garden bounty exceeds even the number of grateful friends and co-workers who are taking home the fruits of your labor, then it's time to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some recipes courtesy of the Washington Post that will put some variety to your tomato dishes ... but then again, enjoy the summer produce while it lasts. Canned vegetables are just a few months away.

Freezable tomato sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large red onions, cut in half, then cut into 1/4-inch slices

6 medium cloves garlic, minced

5 pounds very ripe, but not soft, unbruised tomatoes (vine-ripened and plum varieties or a combination), washed, cored and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch chunks, with juices

Leaves from 10 stems basil, stacked, rolled tightly and cut crosswise into thin strips (chiffonade)

Leaves from 8 sprigs oregano, finely chopped

Leaves from 8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped

Leaves from 8 sprigs marjoram, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until the oil shimmers.

Add the onion and garlic, stirring to combine; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and start to caramelize.

Add the tomatoes and mix well to incorporate, then add the herbs. Stir to combine, and cook for a few minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 1 hour 45 minutes, until a thick sauce has formed. When the sauce is almost done, add salt and pepper.

Transfer to containers, preferably glass, to cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week; or place in freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Makes about 2 quarts.

- Andrea Okwesa, special to the Washington Post

Summer garden poached eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, quartered and sliced (2 cups)

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

8 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped

10 to 12 basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut crosswise into thin strips (chiffonade)


Freshly ground black pepper

3 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

4 large eggs, at room temperature

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saute pan (or skillet with high sides) over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onions and cook for about 7 minutes, until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the zucchini and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the desired degree of doneness.

Break or crack each egg into a separate saucer or small cup. Working with 1 egg at a time, tip them carefully into the hot tomato-zucchini mixture by lowering the lip of each egg cup 1/2 inch below the surface of the mixture. Use a spoon to gently corral the egg whites closer to their yolks, if necessary. Immediately cover the pan and turn off the heat (do not move the pan). Let sit, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. The yolks should be quite delicate and not at all firm.

Divide among individual plates; season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve hot. Serves 4.

- Diane Leveglia, special to the Washington Post

'Mato sammidges

3 to 4 large ripe tomatoes, cut horizontally into 8 slices that are 1/2 inch thick

2 5.2-ounce packages garlic- and herb-flavored soft cheese, such as Boursin, at room temperature

8 slices thick-sliced bacon, cooked until crisp, then drained

2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed



Freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned fine dried bread crumbs

Place the tomato slices between paper towels for 15 minutes to drain any excess juices.

Make at least 4 matching pairs of similar-size slices. Spread a thick layer of cheese ( 1/4 inch) on one side of each tomato slice. Crumble the bacon and divide over four of the slices. Mate the halves together to make sandwiches.

Lay a few layers of paper towels on a platter placed near the stove top. Heat the oil (as needed) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers.

Meanwhile, season the flour liberally with salt and pepper and place in a shallow bowl; place the beaten eggs and bread crumbs nearby in separate shallow bowls. Coat both sides of each sandwich, first in the seasoned flour, then in the egg and then in the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess bread crumbs while making sure the sandwiches are well-covered.

Cook the sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms, then carefully turn them over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown on the second side. (If working in batches, add oil as needed.) Transfer to the paper towel-lined platter to drain slightly; serve warm. Makes 8 half-sandwich servings.

- Mary Jo Sweeney, special to the Washington Post

Chopped caprese salad

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (may substitute 2 tablespoons of the oil with basil oil)

2 tablespoons fig vinegar

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 to 5 medium tomatoes, preferably with a range of colors, and/or including cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half (2 to 2 1/2 cups total)

8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves, plus 3 basil leaves for optional garnish (may substitute 2 teaspoons dried basil)

Combine the oil, fig vinegar, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in a large liquid measuring cup; whisk to mix well. Transfer half of the vinaigrette to a separate container. Let the vinaigrette sit at room temperature (10 to 15 minutes) while you make the salad.

Core the tomatoes and then cut them into bite-size pieces; place in a medium bowl. Cut the mozzarella into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl.

When ready to serve, add the chopped basil to the vinaigrette in the measuring cup and mix well. Pour over the tomatoes and cheese; toss gently to combine. Add fresh basil leaves as garnish, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

If more vinaigrette is desired, add from the separate container that does not have the fresh basil in it (that will prolong its shelf life). Otherwise, cover the excess vinaigrette and refrigerate for up to 10 days, adding fresh basil when ready to serve. Makes 4 side salads.

- Dawn Lofthus, special to the Washington Post

Tomato vinaigrette

3 medium very ripe tomatoes

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons good-quality maple syrup

1/4 cup snipped chives

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill or push through an applesauce strainer into a deep measuring cup, discarding the solids. Add the vinegar, oil, syrup and chives, whisking to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 2 cups.

- Sharon Marks, special to the Washington Post

Breton bay baked oysters in tomato cups

6 large red tomatoes, cored then cut from the top to form 4 petal-like sections (not cut through to the bottom)

24 shucked raw oysters, drained

6 ounces fresh-picked or special lump crabmeat

3 scallions, white and light-green parts, coarsely chopped

1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons low-fat or regular mayonnaise

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

If necessary, carefully trim a little of the bottoms of the tomatoes so they sit flat. Turn the tomatoes upside down and scoop out the seeds (to reduce the juiciness). Place the tomatoes in the baking dish and spread apart their "petal" sections, nesting 1 oyster in the space between each of the 4 petals.

Combine the crabmeat, scallions, hot pepper sauce to taste, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice and mayonnaise in a medium bowl; mix well.

Divide the crab mixture among the oyster-stuffed tomatoes, covering the tops of them. Bake for 10 minutes, until warmed through, then remove from the oven and top the tomatoes with the blue cheese.

Set the oven to broil and return the baking dish to the oven, repositioning it on the top rack closest to the broiling element. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or just until the cheese has begun to melt but has not browned.

Use a skimmer or wide, flat slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to individual plates. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs; serve immediately. Serves 6.

- Ellynne Davis, special to the Washington Post

Baked boursin and tomato appetizer

2/3 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

3 tablespoons minced basil leaves

2 5.2-ounce packages herb-flavored soft cheese, such as Boursin (may use pepper-flavored Boursin)

6 to 8 tablespoons low-fat or whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large, shallow baking dish.

Spread the tomatoes in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle half of the basil on the tomatoes.

Combine the cheese and milk in a large measuring cup to form a thick, lumpy sauce. Pour over the tomatoes and basil, then sprinkle the remaining basil on top. Bake for 20 minutes; serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.

- Jennifer Janowitz, special to the Washington Post.

Tomatoes with pumpernickel stuffing

6 large tomatoes, washed and cored

2 slices pumpernickel bread (4 ounces total)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons finely minced basil leaves

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 8-ounce ball whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 slices of equal thickness

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a baking dish that is at least 8 by 14 inches, or large enough to hold the 6 tomatoes.

Slice off 1/4 inch from the top of each tomato, or enough to make a wide opening. Coarsely chop the "lid" pieces and place in a medium mixing bowl.

Use a teaspoon to remove the insides of the tomatoes; coarsely chop and add to the bowl (including seeds and gel). If necessary, trim the bottoms of the tomatoes so they sit flat. Place the hollowed-out tomatoes in the baking dish.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl, along with the onion, garlic and basil, stirring to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the cream, then the salt and pepper; mix well. Divide the mixture among the tomatoes in the baking dish, filling them to the top; if there is any left over, place it around the stuffed tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the remaining cream on the leftover filling or pour into the bottom of the baking dish.

Cover each tomato with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Bake on the middle oven rack for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the cheese has lightly browned. Serve hot or warm, with a little of the extra cream-enriched baked filling, if desired. Serves 6.

- Imke Ahlf-Wien, special to the Washington Post

Tomato gravy

4 cups crushed tomatoes (may use canned tomatoes)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup milk or heavy cream

Combine the tomatoes, salt, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the butter has melted completely and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Combine the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar and the milk or cream in a liquid measuring cup, stirring until well-incorporated. Add to the tomato mixture and return to medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, let the tomato gravy come to a boil; it should thicken to a nonrunny consistency. Serve hot; or let it cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes 3 1/4 cups. Note: Excellent over polenta.

- Margaret Maddux, special to the Washington Post


sweetiepie 9 years, 10 months ago

Several years ago, I read (in the LJW, I thought) an article about four-ingredient pasta sauce--tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red wine. The gist of the article was that depending on the order in which you added the ingredients and the amount of cooking time each ingredient got, you ended up a bunch of different sauces. I have searched and searched for that article and can't find it. I make a similar sauce though (in that order and cooked) and it is very tasty.

idarastar 9 years, 10 months ago

My favorite thing to do with the local produce is Tomato Basil Soup. It's super easy!1 beautiful heirloom tomato4 pieces of soaked sun-dried tomato (not local but easily could be...)2 flowers of fragrant basil1 clove garlic1 pinch of celtic sea salt1/2-1 tablespoon of soaked hemp seedsPut all ingredients in the blender for a couple minutes.Pour into a glass bowl. Cover with glass lid/plate.Sit in the sun for 30 minutes or so.Voila! Beautiful Tomato Basil Soup (with enzymes and nutrients intact) :-)

idarastar 9 years, 10 months ago

I almost forgot two ingredients.Curry powder and cayenne powder.

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