Thursday, October 25, 2007
I got a comment from John who asked for suggestions for heirloom tomatoes, apart from eating them as they are. Since they're still in season right now, I wanted to find out a bit more about them so I headed over to another farmers market yesterday to get the scoop. Apparently there are over 4,000 varieties available worldwide from Greece to Italy to the US, New Zealand and on to Russia. I shit you not. I thought there was only around 400. Heirlooms are open-pollinated, which means the flowers are pollinated by wind or insects. This also means you can save the seeds and they'll produce the next year. Heirloom tomatoes are bred for taste not appearance, which you probably noticed if you've seen some of them. We see the first batch get to the markets around March when the season begins. I got some mixed opinions as to when the season's finished up but it's somewhere between November and January, either way we've got a couple more months to go. The main reason why the season is getting longer is because of global climate change, which as we know affects more than just our tomatoes, but that's a different story altogether.
I came up with a few suggestions other than the usual tomato, mozzarella and basil salad:
Homemade heirloom gazpacho (use different colored tomatoes)
Orzo w/ blistered grape heirlooms, fresh herbs (parsley, mint), mozzarella
BAKED COUS-COUS STUFFED HEIRLOOM
Recipe below Serving suggestion: Pair with grilled paprika dusted tofu and asparagus
4 x medium heirloom tomatoes (not too ripe and vary colors for presentation)
2/3 x cup un-cooked cous-cous (2 cups cooked)
1 x cup water or broth (low sodium preferably) I like to control who much salt I use
1 x tsp. salt
1 x lemon, zested
1/2 x red onion, fine dice
1/2 x red pepper, fine dice
2 x tbsp. olive oil
1 x tbsp. fresh basil,chopped
1 x tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 x tbsp. kalamata olives,chopped
2 x tbsp. feta cheese
S&P to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Begin by bringing your salted broth or water to a boil and once ready add cous-cous, cover and remove from heat for allotted cooking time per instructions on box. Make sure you check it so it won't overcook. Saute the onion and peppers in olive oil on medium heat not getting too much color. Once ready set aside in mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, cut tops off your tomatoes and carefully scoop out the center. Keep the insides. Chop and add to your onion pepper mixture. TIP: You can do this ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. I suggest putting some paper towel in the cavity to soak up some of the juice.
Once everything is ready, carefully using a fork, mix your ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred. Gently fill each tomato with your mixture and bake covered for 20-30 minutes. Because all heirlooms are different, the cooking time may vary so when the tomato is soft to the touch you're ready.
You can serve this with any entree or even as an appetizer. Enjoy!