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preparations for phenomenal tomatoes

Our three tomato plants have started yielding fruit and have out grown me! We've figured out when to pick to thwart the racoon/rabbits. We had our first tomato in a BLT tonite and it was spectacular. Two more are ripening on the 'sill. I'm thrilled. How to prepare simply to really let the tomato shine through. Our basil is practically a tree, so I'm sure there will be plenty of fresh mozzerella and tomato salads. But I feel like these tomatoes are too yummy and pure for gazpachos. What to do with them?

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  1. I love uncooked pasta sauce. I let the tomatoes sit for a while with salt, pepper, olive oil and basil. Then I cook the pasta and just toss it. And add some parmesan. Or goat cheese. Or burrata. Add some more basil and freshly cracked pepper. Heaven! Sometimes I saute a little garlic and add it. Or use garlic oil. And maybe a little lemon zest.

    4 Replies
      1. re: perk

        I have this every friday night during tomato season.

        1. re: perk

          Never heard of this, I am ashamed! Our tomato garden is out of control; can't wait to try this.

          1. re: perk

            I too love the uncooked pasta sauce. Sometimes I do it Michael Ruhlman's way. Dice tomatoes, place in strainer over bowl with salt and chiffonade of basil. Let drain 20-30 minutes. In large pan saute a lot of chopped garlic until just starting to color; add in juices from tomatoes then mount in cold butter to make a sauce. Add in your cooked pasta, the tomatoes, more basil and toss. The stuff of dreams!

            Tonight we're trying Smitten Kitchen's "Scalloped" Tomatoes with a small green salad.

            And don't forget, if you're so inclined, that pesto freezes really well.

          2. I adore bruschetta when I have really good tomatoes. I just chop them small (removing some seeds as I go if I feel like it), then add salt, chiffonade of fresh basil, grated garlic and really fruity olive oil, plus a tiny splash of balsamic if I'm in the mood. Spoon over slices of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, then top with a dollop of homemade ricotta. Perfection.

            1. Sliced, lightly salted garden fresh tomatoes make a great side just by their perfect selves.

              1 Reply
                1. re: nosh

                  I was going to say that Bon Appetit has a lovely recipe for simply prepared tomatoes.

                  1. re: nosh

                    Is Paula Deen submitting recipes to BA now? This smacks of english peas.

                  2. I halve cherry tomatoes and cut out the seeds then cubed avocado to the bowl and toss with lemon juice, salt and good olive oil. Give it a shake and a rest and enjoy.

                    1. I'm jealous that you have such great tomatoes. I like to saute them quickly in olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. I serve them with a few shavings of a firm cheese like parm or asiago and I'm good to go. They might even be better raw though so I'm not sure! enjoy.

                      1. tomato tart! In that pic, the crust is a buttermilk biscuit dotted w/ some Duke's mayo, but you could do puff pastry or pate brise w/ a bit of ricotta or farmer's cheese ....or whatever.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: danna

                          I love tomatoes sliced thick on toasted bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. I add chopped green onions and a touch of garlic to the cream cheese and salt the tomatoes generously. I keep a batch of the prepared cream cheese at the ready in the frig.

                          1. re: danna

                            I love tomato tart!! I have never thought of using biscuit dough. I imagine you roll it out thinly...do you pre bake the biscuit at all or just pile on the tomatoes and cheese? What temp? for how long?

                            this also reminds me that Bill Neal in one of his cookbooks suggested using cheese stick dough for savory pies. Might try that as well!

                            1. re: Madrid

                              I try to just *barely* touch biscuit dough w/ a pin at all. my grandmother "patted" it out, and that's my goal. You would just pat it into the pan maybe an inch thick. Bake it first (hot...like 425 or so until it's golden) , then add tomatoes and cheese. Don't bake again...the tomates stay fresh.

                              Oh, that's an interesting idea about cheese stick dough for a savory pie/tart. I could see it especially for hors d'ouerves ....might be crazy-rich in large servings.

                          2. If ya end up with tomatoes up to your KNEES... freeze ot can. They will NOT be like fresh when thawed or out of jar but better than canned. I'd just peel (maybe a minute in boiling water so skins slide off). Then squeeze over stariner to get rid of a lot of seeds... do NOT toss that liquid! I just don't have the patience to complete a sauce, so just chunk, pack in Ball jars and process.

                            Summer time to me is a tomato sandwich! Regular white breas, button on both slices, THIN sliced tomatoes, liberal S&P and a BIG slather of good mayo!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: kseiverd

                              We've had 5-6 sliced tomatoes (3"-5" diameter) every night for weeks now. My harvesting simply overwhelms the amount we can eat. Think a bunch will get frozen for winter time chili, but, man, I hate to do that to delicious summer fresh tomatoes.

                              1. re: pine time

                                I'm having the same harvesting "problem." Today I'm dehydrating a batch off San Marzanos for winter time "sundried" tomatoes. Once dry some will go into the freezer, some into jars of olive oil with herbs and tucked into the frige for another time.

                            2. If you really get overwhelmed, it is so easy to freeze tomatoes. Just remove the stem and toss them into a ziploc--no need to blanch or peel. When you defrost them, the skins will slip right out. Not good in salads, of course, but they are great in chili or veg soup, or. . . . .

                              1. Just ate some excellent multigrain bread with goat cheese and a ripe tomato slice. Yum.

                                1. Pa amb tomàquet is a beautifully fresh way to enjoy tomatoes. All you need is to toast some crusty bread and while it's still warm rub it with garlic and tomato halves, imbuing the bread with the essence of the tomato. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and you're there.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    hahah when we make this we have to guard it from the cat as she has been known to leap onto the table and steal the anchovies on top.

                                  2. Use them as part of a semi-English breakfast. Melt an obscene amount of butter in a large skillet & add thickly-sliced ripe tomatoes to the pan along with eggs, bacon, sausage, ham (&/or if you're REALLY into a good English breakfast - sliced kidneys, kippers, etc. - there are lots of variations for this). A little salt & pepper, good crusty toasted bread & butter, & you're good to go. This also makes a great lunch or dinner as well.

                                    1. I also like good ripe tomatoes broiled as a side dish. Simply cut your tomatoes in half, then top with whatever mixture of dry breadcrumbs, cheese, & chopped herbs that appeal to you. Pretty much anything works. I've used Blue cheeses, Parmesan, Monterey Jack; freshly chopped Tarragon, Oregano, Thyme - really, anything goes that you enjoy.

                                      Press topping gently on the tomatoes' cut surfaces, then run under the broiler just until cheese melts & topping is lightly browned. The tomato will still be cool & firm, but it's the contrast in the warm/hot topping & the cool, firm tomato that makes it interesting. Sort of a cross between a warm side dish & a salad.

                                      1. I made these for the extended family at Easter Dinner and my niece has been making them and taking them ever since. They are deelish.

                                        Four Cheese Tomatoes

                                        Prep/Total Time: 20 min. Yield: 20 Servings
                                        1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese blend
                                        1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
                                        1/2 cup ricotta cheese
                                        1/2 cup mayonnaise
                                        1 tablespoon dried oregano
                                        1 teaspoon salt
                                        1 teaspoon minced garlic
                                        4 large tomatoes
                                        In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut each tomato into five slices. Spread each with 1 tablespoon cheese mixture.
                                        Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil 3 in. from the heat for 3-5 minutes or until cheese mixture is golden brown and tomatoes are heated through. Yield: 20 appetizers.

                                        Nutritional Facts
                                        1 appetizer equals 76 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 222 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: laliz

                                          Those sound delicious. Thanks!

                                        2. Nuthin' better than a sink sandwich.

                                          Well, a slab of baloney on it now and then is pretty darn good, too.

                                          1. If you have GREAT tomatoes, here is a GREAT tomato recipe!

                                            It's from Jacques Pepin, and typical of many of his recipes it is simply elegant and elegantly simple. But if you don't have fantastic tomatoes, don't even bother. I made it a couple of days ago and can only wish I'd had your tomatoes!

                                            1. If you get to the point of being overwhelmed, slice them very thinly, place on a rack over a sheet pan and dry in a low oven until bone-dry. Once cool, pulverize them with a blender or food processor. They will keep a long time that way, and can be used in rubs, sauces, marinades, breadings, and salad dressing.

                                              1. At the risk of repeating things I've posted on similar threads in years past, my suggestion is to just use them to "up the ante" on any preparation that you might otherwise use tomatoes. When my heirlooms are in abundance, I use them to make various chilis or curries or slow cooked pasta sauces, etc. I mean, if it's good with regular tomatoes, isn't it going to be that much better with awesome, summer peak tomatoes?

                                                1. Invite the neighbirs for BLTs!

                                                  1. Freshed sliced with salt and pepper, BLT's, caprese salad, tomato sandwiches with mayo.

                                                    I also like to seed it and smash it to a paste, toast a good bread bread, rub a little garlic on the toast, drizzle a little olive oil, and smear the tomatoes over it.

                                                    If you are in the mood for a dip, we made "Alligator Eyes" growing up. It's called that due to the sliced olives in the chutny. It's just lots of diced tomatoes, green onions sliced, black olives sliced, green olives sliced, can of diced green chilies, a little sugar, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, and red wine vinegar. While it needs an hour or two to mingle, it's better the next day. We typically eat it over tortilla chips but it's good on a salad too. Trust me, bring this to a picknic and you will do alright by it.

                                                    1. thickly sliced, S&P, drizzle some over the top EVOO and a few shreds of fresh basil.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                        Yep. You can vary the flavors of the other things to bring out different things in your tomatoes. I have a variety that include green zebras, early girls, purple cherokees, sungolds and supersweet 100s. Sometimes to want to highlight the acidic bite of the green zebras and use sorrel as my herb. Other times I want to highlight the spiciness of the purple cherokees and put in cilantro and red pepper flakes. Other times I want to highlight the sweet and go with tarragon (which I find is more subtle of a flavor than basil).

                                                      2. Panzanella. There are many different recipes out there. I could live on the stuff.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: thymetobake

                                                          +1 on panzanella! I also love to just slice heirlooms, salt them, layer on plate with slivered basil, crumbled bacon, crumbled blue cheese; makes a lovely salad or starter course

                                                        2. I just made a batch of Sopa de Fideos for the freezer - YUM!