Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Tomatoes are very interesting fruits. They lend themselves to both sweet and savory dishes. Whether you're in the mood for something cold or hot, tomatoes fit the bill. Here are 7 great ideas that'll bring life to your tomato presentations.
It's true that there are numerous varieties of tomatoes on the market today, from your heirloom varieties to your to your standard run of the mill commoners you find at your local grocery. While I like the interesting and rare varieties I'll focus on the readily available for to keep things a lot more accessible, but feel free to apply these ideas to pretty much any tomato regardless of the make or model. Here are seven things you can do with your tomatoes.
I absolutely love stuffed foods. Tomatoes are no exception. Stuff'em with cheese, olives, rice or quinoa, tofu, sea weed, succotash, raisins and dates, curried cashews, etc.
Try sauteing them in olive oil with onions, peppers, garlic and kale. They also taste great with cassava or potato. Sweat them down with some cabbage and onions. Toss them in some oil with salt and seasonings and add wakame [sea weed] to them once they've given up their aroma and released their juices, stir and cover until sea weed has reconstituted. This is very tasty!
There's nothing like roasted tomatoes. I take the tomatoes, put them on a baking sheet or in a lasagna pan or dutch oven and dash a little coarse salt and olive oil [optional] and seasonings and pop them in a 350 degree oven until their juices run from them and they begin to shrivel and condense in rich flavor. They're tasty that way and can be eaten as a low calorie snack or side to a well balanced meal. When you take them out of the oven you can sprinkle fresh herbs over them for a garnish, nutritional boost and flavor enhancer.
Although deep frying isn't necessarily the healthiest way to go, when you're on a transitional diet and are working on improving the types of food you eat, it's a great alternative. For this I like to work with the cherry, grape or another small tomato variety. It's simple. All you do is take your small tomatoes and gently drop them into a deep fryer. The skin will get slightly crispy, the tomatoes may burst in places, but that's okay, after all, it's the intense flavor you're after. My suggestion here would be to make sure you start out with the very best, flavor packed tomatoes your money can buy and or your hands can pick.
This may sound a bit unorthodox, however, a salted tomato can be a refreshing treat on a hot day. Just make sure you use good quality salt, that you don't overdo it and that you drink good quantities of water and if you happen to have any fresh lemons and or limes on hand, drop their juice into the water for an added potassium boost.
You're going to love marinated tomatoes. You can do so many things with them, from chopping them and throwing them in salads, to slicing them and having them along with marinated cucumbers or for you dairy eating vegetarians, layered between seasoned mozzarella slices. Dice them up and add them to your guacamole for better flavor or put the marinated slices on your TLT [tofu, lettuce & tomato] sandwich. The list of possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
Try this one out. instead of chopping them, take them and crush them in your hands, making sure you break them up into small enough pieces for a crushed salsa. Tear your onions and peppers, crush your garlic, add your salt, herbs & spices and lime juice with a touch of oil [toasted sesame is nice in this combo or you can use one that isn't as strong in flavor], put in your serving bowl, mix everything together and serve.
I guarantee you this... If you do any one of these things, or a combination thereof, you will not be disappointed, but in fact, you'll be delighted. Just make sure that you don't skimp on the quality of your produce to begin with. Do this and you'll never look at tomatoes the same way again.
Here's a quick note though on what you should know about your tomatoes. Tomatoes should never be stored at temperatures at or below 33 degrees [I tend to stay on the safe side and say they should stay well above refrigerator temperatures.] If you refrigerate your tomatoes or if they are subject to outside temperatures that dip into the low 30's they'll be ruined. Cold temperatures alter the smooth textures of the tomato and turn it mealy. NOT GOOD EATS! So keep them at room temperature or higher and use them quickly!
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing this information with you. Until next time...