Ahhhhh!….it’s tomato time! Those of us who love tomatoes wait all year for this month. It’s such a shame it’s really just one month out of the year when we can have access to these wonderful, red, juicy, full of flavor fruits. (I feel required to say fruit since we all know tomatoes are a fruit…but really, we all think they are vegetables 🙂 ) I buy tomatoes throughout the year from the grocery store, mostly grape tomatoes for salad (those little guys are pretty good) and once in awhile “vine ripened” tomatoes for some dish or another, maybe to adorn a hamburger from time to time. But in August….August! that is the month of real tomatoes. You cannot find flavor like this at any other time of the year! (now California folks, correct me if I’m wrong here, maybe you have access to wonderful tomatoes for most of the year?)
I wait for this month and then try not to let it slip by without gorging myself on these wonderful red items. I decided I would share with you my 3 favorite tomato dishes. They aren’t really recipes, and I’m sure that most of you already eat these dishes. But just in case you don’t, I wanted to share my love of tomatoes with you and these 3 “recipes.”
We hope to have a garden at our new house next year. We have tried 2 gardens at previous houses, but our backyards were all too shady to produce anything, so I finally gave up. Next year, in a new, sunny, yard I plan to try again. However, for the past 2 years I have discovered a great way to have all the tomatoes I can eat. There is a produce farm near my parents’ home (well there are a lot of them) and they sell boxes of “seconds” tomatoes for $8. You are supposed to use them for canning and such, but I just buy them and start eating. Some go bad a little sooner than normal, some have a couple of spots on them, but really, they are just fine. And I can eat all the tomato sandwiches, salads and stuffed tomatoes I want!
What are your favorite ways to eat tomatoes during tomato season?!
First up, Stuffed Tomatoes. These things could be their own meal. Bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, basil and mozzarella stuffed into a ripe tomato. Bake in the oven or on the grill until tender.
Next, the Tomato Sandwich. I LOVE this sandwich. Right now, I’m eating one every day and I’m not tired of them one bit! Tomato, mayonnaise, cheese (I like something on the sharp side) and salt and pepper. These scream summertime to me, and in August, I can’t wait until lunch rolls around each day 🙂
And finally, the granddaddy of them all, the Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad. I’m eating this salad at almost every meal as well. It is just SO WONDERFUL! But so simple at the same time: tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and balsamic dressing, maybe some salt and pepper. I think I could make a meal out of this too. (hmmm….I see a trend here…) When we moved into our house a month ago, I went right out and bought a basil plant and planted it in my front flower bed. I knew tomato season was right around the corner and I didn’t want to be without fresh basil. It’s so easy to grow, but for some reason, crazy expensive in stores. Problem solved, my basil took off after watering it every day for a week…now it’s growing like a weed, er…basil. Another little tip – Aldis has fresh mozzarella, which can also be really expensive. I go there and load up for the month of August, and don’t break my bank at the same time. Yay! (i.love.aldis.) While you’re there get some balsamic dressing too.
4 medium tomatoes (I always make a large pan of these)
romano or parm cheese
salt and pepper
shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic
Scoop out the insides of the tomatoes and chop up in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the mozzarella, and mix in the food processor. The 2 largest quantities of ingredients should be bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. After everything is blended, stir in the mozzarella. You may want to drain off any extra liquid. Place mixture inside the tomatoes. Bake them at 350 for about 30 minutes or until tender. Can also be cooked on the grill.
2 slices of bread
couple slices of tomatoes
salt and pepper
Spread bread with mayonnaise, add tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cheese and eat!
Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
salt and pepper to taste
Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into chunks. Cut basil with kitchen shears into strips. Add salt, pepper and balsamic dressing. Mix well and chill.