Tomatoes have arrived. Tomatoes that actually have flavor, that taste sun kissed, and have ripened naturally.
I herald the arrival of the fresh summer tomatoes just as enthusiastically as flip-flops and sundresses. Like most produce, they are best enjoyed simply adorned.
Here’s what I’m suggesting you do right now. Yep, before you’ve had your morning coffee, before you even open Google Reader.
Go select five or six of the ripest summer tomatoes on your counter and gather extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, a few cloves of firm garlic, and some fresh herbs. They can be basil, oregano, or thyme.
Wash & slice the tomatoes, then tip them into a large bowl. Drench them in olive oil (1/2 cup) and add salt & pepper. Crush the garlic, chop the herbs and toss everything together. Let it marinade on the kitchen counter until lunch.
Now you’ve got an ace up your sleeve; a base for a handful of delicious meals.
14 Variations on how to use your marinated tomatoes
1. Halve a baguette, char it slightly on the grill, pile tomatoes on top. Serve with plenty of napkins.
2. Butter a baking dish, layer tomatoes with thinly sliced onion, top with breadcrumbs and cheese of your choice. Bake until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with a side of grilled steak.
3. Add in fresh mozzarella or bocconcini cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar for a summer salad worthy of inviting the neighbors over for.
4. Toss with piping hot, cooked capellini pasta and dinner is served.
5. Stuff a whole-wheat pita with the marinated tomatoes. Add sliced cucumber and a dollop of sour cream (or tzatziki). Grilled lamb optional.
6. Drain liquid, and arrange some of the tomatoes on a pizza base. Dot with black olives, top with cheese and bake until crust is brown. Anchovies are recommended.
7. Bake rounds of French baguette until crispy. Pile tomatoes onto the crostini and dot with fresh goat’s cheese for a fast bruschetta.
8. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar to the marinated tomatoes. Allow to sit another hour or so. Pour into a blender (omitting the obvious chunks of garlic) and puree into a refreshing soup. Serve chilled. (Lovely with yellow tomatoes.)
9. Slather a 9’ uncooked tart shell with pesto. Drain tomatoes and arrange some of them in a ½ inch layer over pesto. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and bake until pastry is golden.
10. Place 6-8 raw jumbo shrimp in the middle of a square of aluminum foil. Bury them in the marinated tomatoes and fold up the sides of the foil. Seal foil. Toss on the BBQ for 7-9 minutes. Remove and enjoy a steaming, fragrant broth with perfectly pink shrimp.
11. Squeeze half a lemon over the marinated tomatoes. Crumble in several handfuls of pita crisps; toss together, and serve over torn romaine lettuce.
12. Add in diced red onion, a splash of red wine vinegar, and the fattest olives you can find, and mound everything into a bowl. Crumble feta on top and dig in.
13. Toast thick slices of rustic country bread. Spread with mayonnaise and top with a generous amount of sliced marinated tomatoes. Top with crisped bacon and lettuce. Enjoy and don’t forget to wipe your chin.
14. Make a Roasted Tomato & Chevre Phyllo Tart.
How are you serving up your tomatoes?