Market Watch: Seasonal Tomatoes

by in Farmers' Market Finds, Healthy Recipes, July 29, 2009

heirloomtomatoes_lead
We’re celebrating the juicy tomato this week (can you tell?). In honor of this yummy summer treat, I went to my farmers’ market and bought every kind of tomato I could find and then set out to make some simple, classic dishes. Here’s how I made out.

Fun Varieties
Toby talked about about the usual tomato varieties you’ll find this time of year in her “In Season: Tomatoes” post. Hoping to find some unique ones, I asked my farmers what varieties they were selling (you can’t do that at the grocery store!).

First, I picked up some large and round “Trust” tomatoes — a greenhouse-grown variety of beefsteak; they’re plump and delicious. I also found cherry tomatoes in two varieties, yellow and sweet “Sungold” and the equally yummy, strawberry-shaped “Tomatoberry.” There were also some oblong-shaped “Roma,” a sturdy tomato that’s great for roasting. Finally, they had one precious heirloom variety: sweet and delicate “Purple Cherokee” — so named for its greenish-redish-purple skin. What a great selection!

Tomato Feast
I used the larger tomatoes — Trust and Roma — for my Roasted Tomato Sauce (recipe is below). This is a real a summertime favorite in my house. We serve it up with pasta or just dip some crusty bread in it.

As for the smaller guys, half went on the grill and the rest in a fresh salad with local cucumbers, fresh basil from my garden and a drizzle of my Simple Salad Dressing. Bobby Flay also has a terrific recipe for Tomato-Basil Salsa in his Mesa Grill Cookbook. I heart tomato season!

As for my Purple Cherokee, that went into a tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread. I added a few basil leaves and a sprinkle of salt and pepper — so simple and delicious.

roasted tomato sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Makes 10 servings (1/2 cup each)

6-8 large tomatoes cut into large chunks
1/2 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 red chili pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, whole
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

1 can (15 ounces) canned tomato sauce, no salt added
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place tomatoes, onion, chili and garlic on a large sheet pan; add 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, oregano and pepper and toss to coat. Roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes or until tomatoes just begin to char; set aside to cool slightly. In a large pot, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then add the roasted tomato mixture, tomato sauce, tomato paste and wine. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and parsley; season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Puree sauce using an immersion blender* until smooth.

(*If you do not have an immersion blender, puree in a countertop blender in small batches. Make sure to hold the top of the blender closed with a dish towel while the machine is on.)

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 80 calories
Total Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 11 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 139 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 3 grams

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