There’s not much that beats the aroma and flavor of a freshly harvested vine-ripened tomato.
I often am surprised at just how many tomatoes I go through weekly through the summer and fall months, often incorporating them into many of my meals and snacks throughout the day. Whether the tomatoes are diced into my scrambled eggs with fresh goat cheese, sliced thick and added to a roasted chicken and basil sandwiches, or used to make a mouthwatering pasta sauce for dinner, I can’t seem to get enough of the wonderful tomatoes grown in our area.
With the season for the outdoor grown tomatoes now gaining steam, our local farmers markets are brimming with one of summer’s most popular fruits.
Tomatoes are available in an array of shapes, sizes, colors, flavors and textures. With everything from super sweet sun-gold cherry tomatoes to the large and acid-rich beefsteak tomatoes, you can surely find a diverse selection to suit your culinary needs.
A large branch of the tomato diversity comes in the category of the highly sought heirloom tomatoes.
Heirlooms are those varieties that have been passed down from generation to generation, through the saving of seed, typically at least over 50 years old. They rarely possess that standard tomato physique and appearance we are accustomed to seeing in the grocery store, but rather have intriguing shapes, variegated colors, and unique flavors. Preparing dishes with a mix of heirloom varieties can lead to quite a dynamic presentation on the table.
Whether slicing an assortment of heirloom tomatoes on a plate and topping them with fresh basil, mozzarella, aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a stunning appetizer, or preparing an heirloom tomato preserve that is bursting with flavor, there are a number of ways to incorporate them into your meals.
This week I prepared a spicy heirloom tomato sauce. Use it as a dipping sauce, over tacos or grilled meat preparations, as a simmering sauce, or toss with pasta.
Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce
1½ pound heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
One-half medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
One jalapeño pepper, diced (seeds and membrane can be removed to reduce heat if desired)
Juice from one lemon or lime
One half cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Cut a small “X” at the base of each tomato with a sharp knife. Place tomatoes in boiling water and cook for about 1-2 minutes and then place in an ice water bowl.
Once cool enough to handle, peel skin of the tomato, starting at the cut section of the tomato. Dice tomato flesh and set aside.
In a sauté pan, add olive oil and sauté onion, garlic and jalapeno pepper until just soft. Then add diced tomato and lemon or lime juice and simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. You can either puree the mixture in a blender or leave course.
Turn off heat and mix in cilantro.
Once the contents have cooled down a little, slowly mix in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: Makes about 2½ cups of sauce.