Tomatoes: The Ultimate Taste of Summer

Tomatoes: The Ultimate Taste of Summer
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Nothing brings to mind summer like the fresh taste of homegrown tomatoes. One container of potting soil and a tomato plant will allow you to enjoy fresh tomato dishes with just a little effort and a few ingredients.

Growing Your Tomatoes

Tomatoes fall into categories such as determinate, which means they grow to about 3 feet and stop; semi-determinates which grow to 5 foot or so, and finally, indeterminates, which will continue to grow until they are killed by frost. For a simple tomato to start off with, visit your garden center and ask for a determinate tomato plant. You will also need a 14 inch pot and potting soil. You can support your plant with a stake, or a tomato cage as it grows. Plant your tomato by stripping off all but the top 4-5 leaves and put them into the dirt deeply where the leaves are about the soil line. Be sure to place your pot in full sun, and keep the soil moist, but avoid wetting the leaves. You also can fertilize every two weeks if you wish. I do not use chemicals on my plants because I have children and prefer to avoid them. If you have fish, the water from the fish tank is a good thing to use in place of fertilizer.
If you have room for more than one tomato by all means grow as many as you can! You can also visit a farmer's market or road side stand to buy your tomatoes for these wonderful, nutritious recipes. DO NOT refrigerate your tomatoes! They will lose flavor and texture if you store them in the frig. Store them at room temperature for 2 to three days, away from sunlight. After this you can use them in recipes, in canning or wash, and core them, then freeze in bags or containers. After freezing they will be mushy, but work great in cooked dishes!

FRESH TOMATO RECIPES

White Bean and Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce can) white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 cup (1/2 pound) tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/3 cup minced parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 tsp. each basil, thyme, and oregano

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients; toss gently to mix. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 4.

Roasted Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

6 large tomatoes

6 or so large fresh basil leaves

3 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper

Dressing:

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar To garnish: 12 large fresh basil leaves 24 black olives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a shallow roasting pan that is about 16 x12 inches. Skin the tomatoes by pouring boiling water over them and leaving them for 1 minute. Drain and and cool, then slip off the skins. Cut each tomato in half and place in the pan, cut side up. Season with salt and pepper, and then sprinkle on the chopped garlic evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and place a basil leaf on each half-making sure it's covered lightly in the olive oil also. Roast for 50-60 minutes or until the edges are slightly blackened. Serve the tomatoes at room temperature on individual serving plates with half a basil leaf and a black olive on top. Whisk the oil and vinegar together and drizzle over the tomatoes.

Green Beans and Tomato Italian

Ingredients:

3/4 pound green beans

1/2 cup red onion rings

1/4 cup Italian dressing

2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Place green beans, onion and dressing in microwaveable bowl; cover. Microwave on high 8-10 minutes or until beans are tender-crisp , stirring after 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Serves 6.

Broiled Tomatoes

Ingredients:

4 medium ripe tomatoes

1/4 cup cracker crumbs

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried oregano or basil

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tablespoon oil

Wash tomatoes, slice in half crosswise. Place on baking sheet, cut side up. Mix crumbs, seasonings and oil. Sprinkle mixture on each tomato. Broil 8-10 inches from heat about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serves 4. Calories 76, Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 8 g, Protein 2 g

Tomato Cottage Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

1 (12 ounce) carton cottage cheese

1/2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano or 1 tsp. fresh

1/2 tsp. salt

3 medium to large tomatoes, sliced

Lettuce

Combine cottage cheese, herbs and salt.Arrange 3 tomato slices on lettuce for each salad. Top with a mound of cottage cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chives on each salad. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Chicken, Tomato and Bread Salad

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes,cut into 1/2 inch chunks

4 grilled chicken-breast halves, cut in strips

1 1/2 cups cubed Italian bread (1/2 inch cubes)

1 cup loosely packed basil, cut into thin strips

1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Mix all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Let stand 30 minutes for flavors to blend, or refrigerate up to 6 hours. Serves 5.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT GREEN TOMATOES

If you grow tomatoes you are most likely left with green tomatoes when the frost is about to hit. Try bringing them inside to ripen! They need to be kept around 55-70 degrees while they ripen. The cooler the temperature, the longer it will take. You can lay them individually in straw or shredded paper. The tomatoes won't need light. Also try covering them lightly with newspaper. The tomatoes have to be mature or they won't ripen. Look for the tomatoes that are green with white or pinkish tinges as the mature one. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated before eating for the best taste. You can use your green tomatoes in recipes as well. My grandma made green tomato pie each year. It's a unique taste!

Green Tomato Pie

Ingredients:

1 double pie crust

2 cups chopped green tomatoes (green with no white)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped raisins

3 tablespoon melted butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Place the chopped green tomatoes with water to cover and bring to a boil. Drain and add the other filling ingredients. Place in a pie pan lined with crust, place on the top crust and make two or three slashes with a knife. Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Note: This recipe doesn't call for it, but you can add 1 tablespoon of flour to the mixture for thickening if you wish.


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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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