Simple, Healthy, Delicious: Tomatoes

Simple, Healthy, Delicious: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a welcome addition to many dishes, whether canned, fresh, diced, sliced, dried or roasted. The recipes below keep the tomatoes as simple as possible to bring forth their irreplaceable fresh-picked flavor.

Panzanella (Tuscan Bread Salad)

Ryan Casey, co-owner of Blue House Farm in Pescadaro, Calif., posted this dry-farmed Early Girl tomato recipe on his site and we couldn’t resist trying it ourselves.

  • 6 cups stale bread, cut into 1-in cubes (crusty peasant style works best)
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 lb dry-farmed tomatoes, diced into 1-in pieces
  • 3/4 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup [Sigona’s Fresh Press] extra virgin olive oil (we recommend our Hojiblanca or Picual as they’re robust oils that stand up to the flavorful, high acid tomatoes…the higher the acid in a tomato, the richer the tomato flavor).
  • 2 TBL [Sigona’s traditional] balsamic vinegar
  • 10 basil leaves, shredded
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Variations:

  • Add 1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes to salad in addition to fresh tomatoes.
  • Add 2 TBL capers and 1 TBL chopped anchovies for a stronger flavor.

Heat olive oil and garlic cloves in a large pan on med-high.** Remove garlic and rub the inside of a large mixing bowl to infuse garlic flavor. Set garlic cloves aside. Add bread cubes to oil and toast until lightly browned.

Put tomatoes, cucumber, onion, vinegar and basil leaves in garlicy mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add toasted bread cubes, salt and pepper and toss gently. Add vinegar and oil if too dry.

**Carmelo’s note: I’d like to have 1/4 cup heated and used with the bread cubes and 1/4 cup combined in the mixing bowl with the tomato mixture, later combining the two. This will help infuse the oil with a rich tomato-y flavor and preserve the integrity of the olive oil that is not heated.

Dry-farmed Delights

Ned Conwell, co-owner of Blue House Farm in Pescadaro, Calif., grows organic dry-farmed tomatoes. He says the flavor itself is perfect enough that they’re great as is, but he also shared a few of his favorite ways to enjoy them, simply dressed with just a few ingredients.

  • Slice dry-farmed Early Girls for a salad with a light vinaigrette and a little feta cheese.
  • Halve or quarter dry-farmed Early Girls, toss them with olive oil, and roast them at 375F until browned. Pair the roasted tomatoes with crackers and cheese, add them on a sandwich or a fresh green salad or as an addition to an antipasta place. “The concentrated tomato flavor is enhanced even more when the tomatoes are roasted,” said Ned Conwell. “They’re like little irresistible pieces of candy.”

Savory BLT

Phil Foster’s Beefsteak tomatoes are off the hook right now, and make perfect sandwich slices. Don’t do bread? Make it into a salad instead and toss it with a light vinaigrette or keep it simple with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • Sliced bread, 2 slices per person (such as multigrain bread or whole wheat)
  • sliced bacon, 3-4 slices per person
  • crisp lettuce leaves, 1-2 per person
  • Beefsteak tomatoes, cut into ½ inch slices (1-2 slices per person)
  • Mayonnaise (you can add minced garlic, parsley, diced onion or any other flavor you’d like to the mayo to spice it up a bit)

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp, place on a paper towel lined plate and pat off any excess fat. Set aside.

Toast the bread, if desired, and then spread one side of each piece with a little mayo. Layer on the remaining ingredients, finishing with a second slice of bread. Enjoy!

Simply Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple and Marvel Stripe heirlooms are fantastic right now. To enjoy their unique flavor, eat them as simply as possible, using one of these recommendations:

  • Sprinkle both sides of heirloom tomato slices with a little salt and let them sit on a plate for a little while. This brings out their flavor. Drizzle the slices with a bit of Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil and enjoy. We recommend a mild oil, such as the fruity Ascalano or Manzanillo, for pairing with heirlooms so the flavor of the heirloom shows through.
  • For a nice little meal fit for a picnic, pack up sliced cucumber, a nice cheese, an old-fashioned crusty bread and sliced tomato drizzled with olive oil. Enjoy it on a park bench, in a canoe or on top of a peak during a hike.

Orzo & Herb Stuffed Tomatoes

Beefsteaks are large enough for stuffing and hold their shape well when baked. This mixture of fresh herbs, orzo pasta and creamy Mediterranean yogurt is a great, healthy way to enjoy Beefsteaks on a chilly fall day.

  • 4 large Beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup plain Karoun yogurt, or another thicker plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • Salt, to taste
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Breadcrumbs, about 1 TBL per tomato, optional

Cook the orzo to al dente, drain and set aside.

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Using a melon baller or a small sharp knife, scoop out the pulp of the tomato, reserving the pulp in a mixing bowl, and being careful not to pierce the skin on the side or the bottom. Set tomatoes aside.

Add the cooked and drained orzo, yogurt, parsley, garlic, basil and salt to the tomato pulp and stir to mix.

Scoop the mix back into the hollow tomatoes and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, if using. Place stuffed tomatoes in a lightly greased 9×9 baking dish and drizzle each tomato with about 2 tsp. olive oil. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

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