Monday, September 04, 2006

The Versatile Fruit We Call A Vegetable
This is the time of year when tomatoes are often eaten as apples. . . picked ripe from the vine, warmed by the noonday sun, the fragrant spray as tooth meets flesh and then the trickle of succulent juices that can't be contained, but run pell mell over hand and wrist, as we quickly chew and swallow lest we lose a precious bite. The simple pleasure of eating a fresh tomato!
Roasted Cauliflower with Oven-Dried Tomatoes
But we can only eat so many fresh from the vine and when they're ripe we have to put them to good use quickly. This week, from my abundance, I've enjoyed tomatoes, in some form, at just about every meal.
Pieces of oven roasted tomatoes tucked in with cauliflower florets roasted with a sprinkling of allepo pepper one night.
Another day, fresh corn sauteed with a little shallot and thyme then topped with a fresh tomato salad, dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of lemon zest tossed on at serving time. This simple salad can be an impressive entree by topping it off with cold shrimp or lobster pieces, but it's fine on its own as a simple luncheon salad or a side dish for dinner.
Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad
Corn and Tomato Salad
(serves 4 as a side dish)
1 chopped shallot
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or pinch of dried (crushed)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 - 4 ears)
4 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
Freshly squeezed lemon juice as needed
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then add shallot and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until soft. Add thyme and corn and cook, stirring occasionally until corn begins to brown and tastes cooked - about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.
Make a bed of corn on each plate, then top with a portion of tomatoes and their juices. Sprinkle with a little more lemon juice and the grated zest.
Homemade Tomato Soup
I'm a big fan of tomato soup. For years I kept a couple of cans of Campbell's on hand for those times when I felt under the weather or just didn't know what to eat. My tomato soup choices have matured along with the rest of me. Wolfgang Puck has a canned organic tomato basil soup on the supermarket shelves that is quite nice. But very pricey. Making a pot of homemade tomato soup isn't hard nor time consuming and even when fresh tomatoes are not in abundance, Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes make a fine substitute. I actually supplemented my meager reserve of oven roasted fresh tomatoes with a can of them today. Combined with a little mirepoix, a cup of chicken broth, some butter and cream, I had a great thick soup, ready to eat in a little over 30 minutes.
Homemade Tomato Soup
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup half and half (optional)
Heat EVOO over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Add mirepoix and minced garlic, salt and pepper, cook until softened, but not browned (10 min). Add tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until as smooth as you like it (I keep it a little chunky). Return to burner, add cream and heat to serving temperature - do not boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Book Nook
Found a little time to enjoy some new fiction this past week, all easy to recommend for a few hours of sheer entertainment.
Elizabeth Cox - The Slow Moon
Robert B. Parker - Sea Change
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
"Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours." - John Locke
'Til next time . . . Keep On Cooking!

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