Tomatoes Three Ways

by Courtney Thomas – Quince Café & Ice Cream –

It’s late summer and the air sits heavy with heat and dust. In the garden everything is happening at once: beans and vines race for the sky, basil nods under its heavy load, onions are wilting and garlic has been picked, while blackberries ooze in the shade and apples begin to show their rosy glow. This time of year represents seasonal eating at its best, and there is perhaps nothing greater than a tomato, fresh and warm off the vine, oozing sweetness and juice, popped straight into the mouth.  A tomato in season is one of life’s true pleasures and an absolute treasure not to be missed. Find a local farm and stock up as they will never taste better than right now. Here are three ways I enjoy summer tomatoes.

Fresh ingredients beg for simplicity and allow the true flavours to shine through. Find some lovely, ripe tomatoes, varying sizes and varieties. Make a quick vinaigrette: mince a clove of garlic with a pinch of salt. Add a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar and thinly sliced shallot. Drizzle in enough olive oil to make ½ cup of dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Slice your tomatoes and lightly salt with flaky sea salt and fresh pepper.  Arrange on your platter and sprinkle with basil. Add some crumbly cheese (I used Stilton from Farmer’s Daughter), drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

This dish is a great way to make use of the flavours of late summer. Layered with tomatoes and fresh herbs and garlic, it makes an easy and delicious side dish.

Preheat oven to 350°. Sauté one large yellow onion in olive oil until soft. Add a few springs of fresh thyme, 5 or 6 garlic cloves, finely sliced and chili flakes. Cook another minute and then place in the bottom of a lightly oiled casserole baking dish.

Use tomatoes and zucchini of relatively the same size. Slice about ¼” thick and assemble vertically on edge in a baking dish, alternating vegetables and making sure they fit fairly snug together. Generously salt and pepper, place a few more sprigs of thyme and rosemary on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 45-60 minutes until tender and juicy. Serve with fresh basil on top and good bread on the side.

I love baked tomatoes over pasta. The juice and cheese ooze out over the pasta and form a sauce. You could also serve these as a side dish. It’s important you choose ripe and juicy tomatoes and that they get cooked long enough to get soft.

Hollow out 4 large tomatoes, removing seeds and juice. Salt and pepper the insides of the tomatoes. Place in a baking tray on parchment paper. Mix together: ½ cup breadcrumbs, ½ cup finely grated comte or gruyere cheese, ½ cup fresh parmesan, 1 tsp salt, fresh pepper, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ cup fresh parsley, ½ cup fresh basil, and ¼ – ½ cup olive oil. Mix thoroughly and taste to make sure seasoning is correct. Fill tomatoes with filling to top, add another little sprinkle of cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350° for about 30-45 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and bubbly. Serve over spaghetti.

photo by Janis Jean Photography

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