Ripe for the Cooking
By Deborah Salomon
For deep, rich tomato taste nothing comes close to end-of-season canners.
Some farmers sell them by the box, at a reduced price, since some are always bruised. The purpose is to "put them up," as our grandmothers used to do, or set aside an afternoon to make marinara, which was fashionable for a while.
You don't need hours and hours to enjoy canners. You just need ideas.
Hopefully, everybody knows the easy-peel method: Drop whole tomatoes into simmering water; 45 seconds later, spear with a fork and lift out. Skin will slip off.
n Quick scalloped tomatoes: Chop a bowlful of peeled tomatoes with a pastry blender. Add a handful of toast cubes - use a rich premium bread like Arnold Country White - and fresh basil from the herb pot (or not) and some inner celery leaves. A sprinkle of sugar and vinegar, heat together and served topped with grated cheese, any kind. If there's time, bake in a shallow dish until the tomatoes are bubbly and the bread cubes browned.
n Suddenly salsa: Peel and chop a cucumber into tiny dice. Do the same with white part of scallions, or a sweet onion. Snip cilantro leaves with scissors. Add to crushed tomatoes with hot sauce to taste. For fruit salsa, instead of cucumber and onion add chopped grapes, pineapple, raspberries or ripe peaches. Fresh salsa goes with everything, including burgers, chicken, fish or brown rice.
n Freshened tomato soup: Heat Progresso or Healthy Choice hearty tomato soup until bubbling. Add a chopped tomato and stir over low heat until tomato is hot but not "cooked." Serve with a spoonful of sour cream swirled around the top.
n Tomato caponata: Peel a medium eggplant and cut into small cubes. Peel and chop two or three very ripe tomatoes. Spread eggplant and tomatoes in single layer in pan sprayed with olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until eggplant is soft. Press a clove of garlic over the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops balsamic vinegar. Stir to break up pieces and combine. Add a spoonful of olive oil, if desired. Anchovy lovers should mash in one or two, or a squeeze of anchovy paste. Scrape into a container and refrigerate several hours. Spread on crackers or toasted baguette rounds.
n Broiled tomatoes: Cut large unpeeled tomatoes in half. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with Italian bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees until tomatoes are soft and slightly collapsed, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve as a side dish.
What could be easier?
Contact Deborah Salomon by e-mail at email@example.com.
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