TOMATO

Lycopersicum esculentum

The following blurb was written by CSA member Joelle Powell:
If I had to choose a flavor that to me said summer, it would be a warm, juicy, and fresh from the vine tomato.  We love our tomatoes in this country.  Only potatoes are produced in higher quantities, though we were one of the last, along with England, to accept them as edible.  We now produce more than 2 billion pounds annually and import another 700-800 million pounds from Mexico.  Thousands of varieties of tomatoes are known and hundreds actually cultivated.  Tomatoes are native to Peru and were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas in the 8th century.  They were not globally accepted as a food until about 1850. Tomatoes are cold sensitive and should not be refrigerated.  Store them at room temperature for up to 1 week or longer if ripening.  Tomatoes can be frozen whole to be used only for cooking.  Core tomatoes, place on a cookie sheet, and freeze.  When solid, place in a zip-lock freezer bag and replace in freezer.   Prepared foods made from tomatoes, such as salsa, sauces, and purees, can also be frozen.

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Tomato Salsa
From From Asparagus to Zucchini

1 small onion
1 green pepper
Small bunch cilantro
3 minced garlic cloves
Chile pepper to taste
1 tbsp honey
Salt to taste
1 1/2 pounds peeled, fresh tomatoes

Process all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor.  Add peeled tomatoes.  Process again, and it’s ready to eat. Will keep in refrigerator for 1 week.  This salsa does not freeze well.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce

From From Asparagus to Zucchini

Lots of tomatoes
Small amount of basil and parsley, dried or fresh
A large amount of oregano
Minced garlic cloves
1 or 2 carrots, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

In Italy, no one follows a recipe for tomato sauce, so use your imagination for quantities.  A couple of guidelines:  Do not underestimate the amount of garlic, and when in doubt, put in lots.  Also, carrots are often the sweetener in Italian tomato sauce.  Blend or process the tomatoes to an almost pureed texture.  Gradually add herbs, garlic, and carrots.  Slowly cook the mixture in a deep skillet (cast-iron is best). When sauce has reduced about halfway to the texture you want, add salt and pepper. Add several tablespoons of olive oil before reheating for serving.  Makes any quantity.

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Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

6 large heirloom tomatoes, all varieties and colors, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch cubes (reserve seeds and juices)
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3/4 English or hothouse cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tbsp Tabasco
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, seeds and juices, along with onion, cucumber and peppers.  Add cilantro, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Tabasco.  Add a few pinches of salt and black pepper.  Using hands or two forks, squish vegetables into a juicy soup, leaving a few big pieces.  Add oil in small increments, tasting as you go.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Serves 8.

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Penne With Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes And Goat Cheese

This dish is best eaten right away.  You can make all the parts — except for the pasta — way ahead of time and just throw it together at the last minute. (The slow-roasted tomatoes are also great in other roles:  as part of an antipasto in the summertime, as an omelet filling, or as a topping on grilled bread.)  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

2 pounds red and yellow cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 pound penne
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 250°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Halve each tomato and place cut side up in one flat layer on the baking sheets.  Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt.  Roast until the tomatoes are dried around the edges but still moist, about 2 hours.  Crumble the goat cheese into large chunks and refrigerate until ready to serve the pasta.  Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions.  Remove 1 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve.  Drain the pasta well and return to the pot.  Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Toss well and season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.

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Tomato Basil Dip
From From Asparagus to Zucchini

3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp or more minced garlic, mashed to a paste (use a garlic press or flat of a knife)
5 tbsp chopped basil (chop it medium-fine)
1/2 red onion
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
thinly sliced, lightly toasted baguette slices

Lightly toss tomatoes, garlic, and basil.  Drizzle with olive oil, splash with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Give a quick stir and serve with baguette slices.  This recipe, from cooking instructor Yana Beranek, easily doubles or triples.  The quantities and flavors can be adjusted to one’s own taste.  It’s beautiful when made with yellow and red tomatoes.  Leftovers are good as a salad dressing.  Makes about 8-12 servings.

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