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'Tis the Season for Tomatoes

By Michele

There is nothing quite like a perfectly ripe tomato – sweet and juicy! Have you ever eaten one right off the vine? It’s divine! When it comes to summer produce, I consider tomatoes the highlight of the season. They can be enjoyed in a whole host of ways. Such as stewed, roasted, canned, pickled, fried, stuffed, juiced and, of course, eaten raw like an apple, after all it is botanically a fruit.

Recently, a dear friend gifted me with dozens of tomatoes from her garden. Large, small, rich in reds, oranges, and yellows. To utilize this bountiful gift, I decided to cook and blog about the various ways I enjoy tomatoes.

Let me first remind you how beneficial they are to our general health. Raw tomatoes are full of vitamins A, C, K as well as E and B. Once cooked, they lose the value of vitamin C, but the real benefit of the antioxidant lycopene kicks in. Lycopene has been proven to be heart healthy while also helping lower the risk for heart attacks and other diseases.

Tomatoes make great, healthy eating, but do have a few problems. I normally wouldn’t say anything negative in a blog, but here I must. Due to their high acidity persons with reflux should avoid them. The compound lycopene can also cause low blood pressure. If you do not suffer from these aliments, lycopene is “super” beneficial for most people.

So go ahead, get to your nearest farmer’s market and pick up some late summer tomatoes. Time is running out and before you know it, we’ll be back to hot house tomatoes which lack the special sweetness of these in-season, right off the vine jewels. Enjoy!

Below are a few ways in which I enjoy fresh tomatoes.

A couple of years ago a friend served me a tomato/orange soup created by Elephant’s Deli in Portland, Oregon (link here). It is a delicious combination of sweet and savory flavors. There are numerous copycat versions of this recipe online. Many use canned tomatoes as in the original recipe, but some use roasted tomatoes, while others add in tomato paste and broth. That said, given tis the season for tomatoes, I made one with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes and changed up some of the other ingredients to make it my own. As for the topping, in lieu of a drizzle of heavy cream as recommended in original recipe, I made a gremolata. The freshness of the parsley, garlic and lemon zest added another layer of flavor.

For an easy BLT appetizer, I filled endive leaves with bits of crispy bacon, cut cherry tomatoes, and topped with a small dollop of mayonnaise. This appetizer is a sweet and salty treat!

Now, let’s stuff a tomato! I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy mac and cheese than to eat it in a sweet tomato. Then of course, devour the tomato! Simply, make your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Hollow out a large tomato and stuff with mac and cheese. Top with some grated cheese mixed with a little panko, bake until the cheese is melted, and the panko is browned. Once out of oven, you have multiple topping options. Such as, drizzle with a good EVOO, grated fresh pepper, a few drops of siracha, etc. The result - gooey, cheesy and deliciously savory.

When I mentioned to Luci that I was planning a blog on tomatoes, here’s what she said, and I quote, “My favorite - thick slices of tomato on a bread with sesame seeds, generously smeared with mayo and topped with sea salt.” Well, I couldn’t agree more! Below is a photo of Luci’s dream sandwich. You can bet that immediately after the photo shoot, I thoroughly enjoyed this luscious sandwich. Thanks Luci!


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