Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tomato Love

I get a bit emotional about tomatoes. First because I spend a lot of time and thought on them: I start them from seeds in the late days of winter, tend the little plants with care, give a boatload of older, re-potted plants away to friends since there are almost always way more seedlings than I can handle, harden them off and then plant them in the spring. It is hard to see the seedlings that are left...unloved and I usually plant more than I should.

It doesn't stop there. Daily watering allows me to follow the growth of each plant, the formation of tiny tomatoes (often after a long, frustrating period when I get lots of blossoms and no fruit setting up) and the growth of those tomatoes to see what kind they might become. That last was especially true this year because when the plants were re-potted into larger peat pots I was deranged due to morphine residual from the hospitalization with a kidney stone, so I didn't really keep track of the varieties very well. It was actually kinda fun to see what I ended up with.

Then there is the looooooong wait until the tomatoes actually ripen. This year the cherry tomatoes came first and were a delight, but that first plate of sliced tomatoes, lightly seasoned with pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar sprinkles and a little garlic salt or sea salt is the ultimate pleasure. Until I have the first of the season BLT.

Now we are to the point where there are enough large tomatoes (and way too many cherry tomatoes) that I can share them. I also begin making different recipes that showcase the tomato.

Yesterday I threw together a seasonal veggie stew you might like. Chunks of juicy ripe Mortgage Lifter tomatoes added their summery flavor and color, but it also had sautéed onions and garlic, lots of fresh basil for fragrance, flavor and bite, slices of zucchini because I love zucchini, plus some yellow wax beans for color and texture and just a bit of beany flavor. Of course there was some pepper added, but no salt this time. Instead I added a splash of balsamic vinegar. All that was missing was eggplant, but I don't actually like eggplant, so I was fine with that.

This mixture went perfectly with a couple of small rectangles of this cheese and polenta grill that I posted about HERE. I suspect that it would also work well over almost any grain, as a filling for rolled up tortillas, maybe with some cheese, or even over pasta. For pasta you might want to cut up the veggies smaller when you start.

Do you have a favorite tomato recipe?

Tomato, Basil and Beans Together

1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups fresh tomato chunks
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup fresh beans (I used yellow wax beans, but green string beans are great, too)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sautee' the onions and garlic in the oil until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato chunks, zucchini, beans, basil, and salt and pepper.

Stir to combine and heat until the zucchini is tender, about 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve.


  1. I always grow a few tomatoes too, there is something quite exciting about seeing them grow and ripen. Unfortunetly this year my plants got some kind of disease and went from healthy to dead in about a week :(

  2. Oh, Katie, that is so sad. Hope you have a good farmer's market so you can get tomatoes with flavor anyway.

  3. Your tomatoes look fantastic! And the yellow ones are reminding me of a yellow salad that my sister makes with yellow zucchini, yellow tomatoes and yellow peppers. It's beautiful and delicious....

    I'll have to tell her about making it into a cooked salad like your Tomato, Basil and Beans Together stew and to add some yellow beans to it.

    As for favourite tomato recipes, my personal favourite is a tomato, dillweed (or basil if the swallowtail caterpillars have eaten all the garden dill) a trace of mayonnaise and some cracked black pepper open-faced sandwich.

  4. Elizabeth! Glad you are back. I bet I would love that all yellow salad. Your sandwich sounds delicious, too. Multi-grain bread for it?