Tag Archives: tomato

Rustic Tomato Marinara

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First of all, I owe my family, friends and coworkers a big huge apology.  You see, I will not be giving away my excess homegrown tomatoes from my garden to them ever again.  It’s not that I don’t like to share or that I am a stingy person or that I like to hoard my garden produce.  It’s just that I need the tomatoes because I have learned how to make my own homemade Rustic Tomato Marinara Sauce from scratch. And in my opinion, this Rustic Tomato Marinara sauce is worth apologizing for.

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The key to this delicious sauce is freshly picked, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes.  This bucket full of lemon boy’s, early girls, green zebras, pineapples, mortgage lifters and a handful sweet millions was used in my Rustic Tomato Marinara.  What makes this sauce “rustic” is that I did not peel the tomatoes or seed them before tossing in the pot for cooking.  I say, so what, who cares?  A stick blender takes care of the tomato skins and as a result there’s very little waste and a fantastic tomato flavor.

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My Rustic Tomato Marinara is one of those recipes that works better by taste and feel rather than following the recipe exactly.  Why?  Every variety of tomato is different and some cook faster than others.  Also, you can add whatever blend of spices and herbs you like.  If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes.  It’s all about you and your taste. The next time you have an overabundance of tomatoes, make some Rustic Tomato Marinara.  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon tomatoes (about 5 pounds, quartered)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup wine (I used red table wine)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • about 2 – 3 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbs sugar (optional)

Grab a large pot and saute the onions in the olive oil until they turn translucent.  Meanwhile, wash and remove stem scars from tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes, making sure that all the tomato chunks are somewhat uniform in size.  Add tomatoes, wine, water, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the pot, Cook on low uncovered for 2 – 3 hours, stirring often.  Add garlic near the end of the cooking process.  Using an immersion or stick blender, blend sauce until smooth or desired consistency.  If the sauce is too watery or thin, cook the sauce longer to reduce or if it’s too thick, add more water.  Taste your sauce, add sugar if necessary.  The purpose of the sugar is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat.  Use sauce immediately or cool and put into plastic containers to freeze for later use.  Makes about 2 – 2 1/2 quarts.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Zebra Vinaigrette

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Every spring and summer I dedicate time to plant a vegetable garden.  Those who have a vegetable garden knows full well that having one takes quite a bit of work.  Fortunately, my garden is small in size.  It consists of 2 – 5′ by 8′ raised beds, a 3′ by 6′ planting strip and 5 large half barrel containers.  Chances are that you’ll find me in my garden every night after I come home from work.  I generally spend about 20 minutes a day watering, weeding, and tending to my vegetables and herbs.  It may be an effort but I love it.  Gardening is one of those activities that is productive, therapeutic and good for the soul.  Not to mention, the ultimate reward is delicious fresh picked vegetables and fruit for you and your family.

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Everything that I grow in my little garden is organic.  That means I don’t use bug sprays, processed fertilizers or non-organic composts.  I prefer it that way.  I’m far from perfect but I do try my best to feed my family healthy foods free from chemicals and pesticide residue.  So I do take the extra time to pull weeds or deal with garden pests the old fashioned way by plucking them off the leaves by hand.  Planting, weeding and watering is the easy part of gardening.  Dealing with the garden pests such as snails slugs or beetles is not.  It’s not my favorite part of gardening but, left unchecked, those annoying little pests can destroy your precious plants within a few short weeks.

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Every year I plant several Green Zebra Tomato plants in addition to the dozen other varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Green Zebra Tomatoes are my son’s favorite variety of tomato so I grow at least three plants just for him.  Green zebras are immensely flavorful and have a beautiful green color.  And, don’t let the bright green color fool you.  The green tomatoes that you see are perfectly ripe and ready to eat.  After growing many heirloom varieties for many years, I have learned to pick my tomatoes by touch and feel, and not by color.  Why?  Heirloom varieties come in a variety of colors such as yellow, green, orange, red and even black.  When picking tomatoes, I gently squeeze the fruit to check for ripeness.  If it’s too firm, it remains on the vine until it’s ripe and ready to be brought into my kitchen.

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My Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Zebra Vinaigrette is a simple combination of ingredients that packs some serious summertime flavor.  Don’t worry if you can’t find Green Zebra Tomatoes…  My the tomato vinaigrette can be made with any kind of tomato you wish. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 5 cups Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes (mixed)
  • 3 – 4 Tbs Green Zebra Tomato Vinaigrette (See recipe below)
  • Sprigs of fresh snipped Basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by washing and stemming the cherry tomatoes.  Cut in half.  Arrange on 4 salad plates.  Garnish with the fresh basil.  Drizzle with Green Zebra Vinaigrette.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Makes 4 salads.

Green Zebra Tomato Vinaigrette:

  • 4 – Green Zebra Tomatoes (quartered, about 10 ounces)
  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 shallot (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Parsley (minced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • garnish with sprigs of basil

Grab a small saucepan and heat 1 Tbs olive oil on the stove over medium high heat.  Add tomatoes and shallots and cook about 10 minutes stirring constantly, be careful not to burn.  Remove from heat and add the white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic and honey.  Use an immersion or stick blender and add olive oil slowly until the mixture is smooth.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Stir in the minced parsley.  Cover and chill.  Makes about 1 cup.  Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for about 3 – 4 days.

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

My son and I were at a local bookstore the other day and those who know me know that I can never leave a bookstore empty handed.  My new prize for the day was “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking”.  First of all, I must say that book is a complete winner.  Lovely photos, easy to follow instructions.  Cool cookbook.  Second of all, as I was flipping through the pages, his recipe for a Tomato Salad caught my eye.  I had a bunch of heirloom “Caspian Pink” tomatoes from my garden that I needed to deal with and that recipe sounded like it would be a good one.  Color me wrong…  After it was all said and done, Bourdain’s recipe for the Tomato Salad was not just a good one.  It was simply outstanding!

This “slightly adapted” Tomato Salad recipe is a simple yet flavorful mixture of sliced and seeded heirloom tomatoes, thin slivers of red onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  If you have some heirloom tomatoes, be sure to give this recipe a shot.  It’s easy and delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 small to medium sized red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar (I used the dark, not the white)
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish

Wash, core and cut the heirloom tomatoes into wedges.  Place wedges into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp coarse salt and 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper.  Let tomatoes sit for 1/2 hour.  (I tossed mine in the fridge, I like my salads on the cool side)

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the red onion and place in another colander.  Sprinkle on the additional 1/2 tsp of salt and let the onions sit for 1/2 hour also (I stuck them in the fridge too).

When the 1/2 hour is up, lightly brush off the salt and pepper from the tomatoes and give each tomato wedge a light squeeze to remove the seeds.  Toss seeds away.  Add tomatoes to a bowl.  Using your clean hands lightly squeeze the moisture out of the onions.  Add onions to tomatoes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic paste, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Add the dressing to tomato and onion mixture.  Lightly toss, taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with basil leaves, and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

Heirloom Pineapple Tomato

Heirloom Pineapple Tomato

One of my favorite variety of tomatoes is the heirloom Pineapple Tomato.  The massive yellow fruits are juicy, sweet, and can grow up to a whopping 2 pounds each.   Every year I purchase one or two plants at the Master Gardener Fair down at the Expo in late spring.  I plant them in the garden in late May and by early August, I am in the midst of my harvest.  My tomatoes are doing quite well (so far) and the biggest one that I have picked out of my little garden this year weighed over 1 1/4 pounds.   Wow!

I have learned over the years when preparing a dish for my family, sometimes less is more… What I mean by that is when you have a spectacular ingredient to work with, don’t cover it up with other flavors, seasonings or textures, simply showcase it.  That is exactly what I did with one of my fresh picked Pineapple Tomatoes.  I sliced it, drizzled it with olive oil and added a pinch of salt.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Simply perfect.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 Heirloom Pineapple Tomato
  • olive oil to taste
  • coarse salt to taste
  • garnish with a sprig of basil

Slice tomato into 1/3 inch slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Garnish and serve.

Slumgullion

Slumgullion

Years ago when my sister and I were growing up, our father would occasionally prepare dinner.  He had two “signature” dishes.  We either got creamed chipped beef on toast (aka S.O.S.) or Slumgullion.  We did not have a choice but when we knew when he was cooking dinner we hoped and we prayed that we would get the Slumgullion.

Slumgullion is a warm, beefy, tomato based macaroni noodle stew with humble roots.  Many versions of this dish have been around for seventy five plus years.  You may also know this dish as American Goulash or Slumgull.  This version comes from my father who grew up during the great depression in Omaha, Nebraska.  His family did not have much money and this is what they often served at their dinner table during those rough times.  Slumgullion is amazingly simple, tastes really good, and can be easily made with ingredients you may already have.  I sometimes substitute ground bison for the beef for a leaner dish.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2/3 c. tomato ketchup
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 oz. dried large elbow macaroni pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil

In large sauté pan add canola oil and onion.  Cook the onion until opaque.  Add the ground beef and cook until lightly browned.  Add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, garlic, oregano, chili powder, water, salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.   Stirring occasionally.  Cook pasta to the manufacturers direction (about 6 minutes).  Drain.  Add macaroni pasta and simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Ladle into bowls.  Serves 4 – 5 people.

Mini Zucchini White Eggplant Panini

Every Thursday there is a farmer’s market about a mile away from where I work.  Yesterday I was able to sneak over and visit on my lunch hour.  I love stopping by because as the season changes there is something different every week.  Yesterday, while walking through the booths and pickup trucks heaped with fresh picked corn and baskets of zucchini in the back, I spied some gorgeous white eggplant.  I don’t why but I have never seen white eggplant before…

These eggplants were a gorgeous white color and according to the farmer that I purchased them from, they are the “crescent moon” variety.  I went ahead and bought three not knowing what I was going to make with them.  Within an hour of my purchase,  I knew what I was going to make.  I had some fresh picked zucchini and heirloom tomatoes from my own little pocket garden and all I had to do was stop by the bakery on the way home from work and snag a fresh baked baguette…

And voila!  Mini Zucchini White Eggplant Paninis.  There is no use jotting down a recipe as long as you can measure and grill.  The key to this dish is to find eggplant, bread, tomatoes and zucchini all of the same diameter.  Begin by slicing the vegetables into half inch slices.  The bread can be as thick or thin as you want it.  I brushed the bread, zucchini and eggplant with olive oil, sprinkled on some sea salt and grilled them.  I added fresh mozzarella cheese to the eggplant and let it melt.  I then assembled the mini paninis while adding a small slice of prosciutto and garnished with some fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes.

I served these paninis to my family with a side of fresh garden salad.  These mini paninis would be a great for lunch or dinner and depending on the size of your ingredients, or as a really cool appetizer to make for your next party.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients (for one Mini Zucchini White Eggplant Panini)

  • 2 slices fresh baguette
  • 1 slice zucchini
  • 1 slice white eggplant
  • 1 slice heirloom tomato
  • 1 ounce fresh mozzarella
  • 2 basil leaves
  • olive oil for brushing
  • small slice prosciutto
  • pinch sea salt
  • basil and cherry tomatoes for garnish