Monday, August 11, 2008

is it tomato fest time yet??

finally it is tomato week! regular readers know that the editors at martha stewart's everyday food magazine and margaret at away to garden are hosting weekly food fests. each week their blogs focus on a specific vegetable or fruit..and foodies, cooks, gardeners and eaters read the blogs and submit either recipes, gardening tips or questions..a pretty big group of fellow bloggers also join in by writing about the topic (including yours truly)..so we can all participate in a massive recipe exchange and gardening forum.. it has been loads of fun..and we have covered pesto, zucchini & cucumbers, as well as last week's topic..green beans..now, i love all of these items..and submitted my favorite recipes...but i have been waiting and waiting for my favorite..tomatoes...i adore tomatoes and use them in almost everything...we are lucky in napa..organic tomatoes are at their best from mid july to end of august..sometimes until mid-september....i impatiently count down the days each year for tomato season...i didn't actually wait for week 4 of the fest..if you notice..tomatoes were featured in the zucchini recipes and the green bean recipes of the past two weeks...today, my biggest challenge is to edit this blog post so that it does not become the size of a novel..
i usually wait until the end of august to preserve tomatoes and to make and freeze/can homemade tomato sauce...i think the tomatoes are at their sweetest at that time...so i will hold off on those techniques & recipes until early september and post a story then focusing just on preserving tomatoes..today, i will talk about using them fresh in summer...during these few weeks i tend to eat tomato sandwiches all the time..this does not even qualify as a recipe..just illustrates my tomato obsession.... i toast or grill slices of really good sourdough bread...spread best quality mayonnaise on each piece..homemade if i have time.. full fat mayo, not low fat versions on this baby...add thick slices of organic, heirloom tomatoes..sprinkle grey sea salt..freshly cracked pepper..and eat..summer bliss. another really easy..non-recipe..is to roast tomatoes with garlic..(check out my roasted green bean, garlic and tomato recipe from last week for technique)..and add to hot pasta..include all the juice from the roasting pan..add additional extra virgin olive oil, chopped fresh italian parsley, chopped basil, sea salt and pepper...toss together...serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese..eat...enough said...

but to fully participate in the food fest..i really should add a few "real" recipes..however.. in keeping with the easy, easy easy mood of mid-august..these involve little, if any cooking..and lots of taste...let me know what you think..and, as always..to fully participate..please add your favorite tomato recipes to the comments section of this blog post...we can all share..cause you can never have too many tomato recipes...


heirloom tomato and white bean salad

2 cups white beans..**see bean note below
3 med heirloom tomatoes..any kind, any color, cut into bite sized pieces.
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp basil (cut in chiffonade)
2 tbsp chopped italian parsley
grey sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

red wine vinaigrette
1/4 cup best quality red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
grey sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper


*note on cooking beans..when i have time, i love making this recipe starting with dried white beans...process follows...when pressed for time a 15 oz can of organic white beans works really well..just drain thoroughly..rinse..and drain again...
cooking dried beans
start with 2 cups dried white beans..sort through and pick out any pebbles..place in fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly. place in large pot with 1/2 white onion, 1 bay leaf and 1 carrot. cover with water about 2 inches above beans. place lid on pot and cook over low heat just until beans are tender...do not overcook...check water level often and add additional if water level drops... when cooked, remove from heat and drain thoroughly. discard onion, bay leaf and carrot. i add salt after beans are cooked, although there are two schools of thought on this..beans should take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours to cook depending on size and freshness of beans..begin checking after 1 hour...i do not pre-soak white beans...let beans cool to room temperature and proceed with recipe...
make vinaigrette by combining olive oil and vinegar in a mason jar..shake thoroughly..and add salt and pepper to taste. set aside.
place beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in large bowl and stir to combine. add 3 tbsp vinaigrette (shake jar first) to the bean mixture, stir and add salt and pepper to taste..allow to sit a minimum of 30 minutes... add basil and parsley and stir..taste and adjust seasonings if needed...add a bit more vinaigrette is desired and serve.

fresh salsa..a.k.a pico di gallo
no cooking required..assemble..buy (or make if you are ambitious) really good chips..and..maybe..add margaritas?..
2 cups heirloom tomatoes (any color) seeded and diced, and placed in a strainer
1/2 c diced red onion
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, remove seeds and membrane, finely chopped *see note
1 serrano chili, remove seeds and membrane, finely chopped
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tsp red pepper flakes
grey sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
combine first 7 ingredients in medium sized bowl..add salt and pepper to taste. cover bowl with plastic film and allow to sit for 30 minutes..add lime juice and zest...stir, taste and adjust seasonings..note..i loathe watery salsa, so i place the mixture in a strainer and allow to sit for a few minutes..place back in bowl, stir and adjust seasoning again if needed. this salsa is a bit spicy..removing the seeds and membrane from the peppers reduces a lot of the heat..but if you do not like hot foods..reduce or eliminate the red pepper flakes..
**regarding jalapenos and serranos..if you have never prepared fresh jalapenos/serranos this note is very, very important..and i really, really mean it (have i emphasized this point enough? :)..immediately after you seed and chop the peppers..wash your hands really well..if you don't, i promise you will forget, touch your eyes..and cause a massive, painful burning..some people recommend wearing rubber gloves when preparing peppers..i don't, but i always remember the washing hands tip..i learned the hard way..


heirloom tomato tapenade with bruschetta
6 med heirloom tomatoes..seeded and large chop
3 red peppers, roasted and large chop
6 kalamata olives chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic peeled and finely minced
1 tbsp basil, chiffonade
1 tbsp italian parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
grey sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
sourdough or italian bread, thickly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
garlic clove
grey sea salt
freshly grated parmesan cheese
combine first 6 ingredients in medium pot and gently cook over low heat just to warm ingredients...place mixture in large strainer and allow all liquid to drain away...then place mixture in bowl..add basil, parsley, olive oil and vinegar and stir..add salt and pepper to taste. set aside.
make bruschetta..grill or toast slices of bread..as soon as bread is cooked, immediately rub each piece with garlic clove. place on serving platter and drizzle each piece with the remaining olive oil..sprinkle with the sea salt. place a large spoonful of the tomato tapenade on the end of each toast piece and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. serve immediately

i could go on and on with additional recipes..but now it is your turn..i need some new ideas..what do you have? please share your favorites in the comments section of the blog...oh yeah..next week is "corn" week...do not be surprised if i sneak tomatoes in some of the recipes..corn & tomatoes... a natural..right?
have a good week!
best,
diane
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"™



11 comments:

casalba said...

I love tomatoes too. You give some great recipes. The spicy salsa is particularly appealing.

Have you tried Panzanella? I just made some. It's another easy non-cook recipe and a good way of using up day old bread.

It's basically stale bread mixed with chopped ripe tomatoes, onions, (cucumber - optional) olive oil and fresh herbs. Delicious and thrifty.

(Thank you so much for the kind words you left on my site.)

chris said...

I am going to try the bruschetta tonight. It looks delicious. I live in Oregon and our tomatoes are not yet perfect, but I think o.k. for trying your recipes. I can't wait until the tomatoes are perfectly ready!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome back casalba..i always love your posts...i have made modified versions of panzanella, using toasted bread or croutons..the classic recipe using soaked bread gives me pause..i am not a fan of soggy bread..but i have eaten panzanella often in italy and it is delicious..so??..what do you (or anyone else?) do about the bread?

casalba said...

Hi Diane,
I use a very meagre bread/tomato ratio and tons of herbs. So the tomatoes are the stars and not the bread. The result is much like a couscous with loads of other things and not at all like soggy bread. (Hope that helps.)

PS I like your site too which is why I keep returning! Sally

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

sally, thank you for the panzanella clarification..i will give it a try and let you know how it turns out..did you ever find punt e mes?

hi chris and welcome..let me know how you liked the bruschetta...

joan said...

I love Panzanella but I like a big ratio of bread to tomatoes. I, too, usually use leftover croutons or garlic bread. Not into the soaked bread idea.
Joan

annie's kitchen said...

Had a tomato sandwich yesterday. Copied your "recipe". It was fantastic. Think I will have another today.
Love the blog.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Love your pico recipe. Looks so fresh.

Funny about the dogs huh? Mine is named Dakota.

Tom Aarons said...

Love the range of tomatoes you have. And the wonderful things you do with them!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome joan, annie's kitchen, judy and tom..thanks for the kind words..for those of you with blog links..i can't wait to check them out...and feel free to post your favorite recipes here..this week is corn week..so be on the lookout for that post...

lana said...

I made your spicy salsa last night as part of a Mexican food buffet. It was so good. I will be making this often during tomato season. Thanks.