This is the best time for tomatoes, so why not use them in as many ways as you can? Of course, salads can benefit from a juicy tomato, but there are many other things you can do with them. This month’s demo featured three recipes with tomatoes used in three specific ways with varying flavors. The first recipe is an Indian chutney, the second is a play on the Italian caprese salad, and the last is a West coast twist on the Southern classic–a tomato sandwich. Read on for more!
There are hundreds of tomato varieties, but for the most part, the majority of grocery stores tend to sell the same few, including romas, cherry, grape, heirloom, vine, beefsteak. Festivals and farmers markets are two of the main places to really explore the hundreds of types that exist. Of course, if you have room in your garden, growing your own tomatoes can be a very exciting and satisfying process. If you have a rough first season, don’t fret. Tomatoes can be finicky, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find just how fruitful the crop can be.
A chutney is simply a condiment that usually begins with a fruit or vegetable as the base in combination with vinegar and spices. There are a number of Indian chutney recipes. They can be sweet, sour, spicy, thin or thick. This one is sweet with a hint of tang and a very warm quality from the spices. A caprese salad is a classic Italian dish with three main ingredients–tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Because there are so few ingredients, the key is to buy the best quality. Make sure the tomatoes are plump and juicy, the basil should be fresh and green, and the mozzarella must be fresh and packed in water. A handful of pre-shedded mozzarella will not work! Keep that in mind, and you’ll have a great caprese salad.
Finally, there is the tomato sandwich. Most people raised in the South have had a tomato sandwich. White bread slices, warm, locally grown tomatoes, mayonnaise, salt and pepper–those are the only ingredients. If you talk to someone who grew up eating tomato sandwiches, they will also tell you that there are no variations to this sandwich. Well, we live in California, so the sandwich we made in class plays homage to that fact with the inclusion of avocado and sprouts. Again, because there are so few elements to the recipe, the key is to use the best quality ingredients. Bland, watery tomatoes will ruin this sandwich. Pick tomatoes that are guaranteed to have great flavor. We did make the mayonnaise as well, which is much easier than you may think. Any sandwich tastes better with homemade mayonnaise. You’ll find all of the recipes below.
Spiced Tomato Chutney – Serves 8 to 10
4 large heirloom tomatoes (approximately 3 pounds)
1 tablespoons safflower oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
2 star anise
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Begin by blanching the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water boils, score the bottom of each tomato by drawing a small “X” with a knife. Plop the tomatoes, “X” side up, into the boiling water, and cook for 60 seconds, or just until the skins just begin to come away from the tomato’s flesh. Remove from the tomatoes from the water, and drop into a bowl of ice water to cool.
2. Once they are cool enough to handle, carefully remove the skin from each tomato, then cut each one into large chunks. Set aside.
3. Heat the safflower oil in a saucepan over a medium high flame. Once hot, add the shallots and garlic, cooking until they turn translucent and soft, approximately 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes to the sauce pan, along with the apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, allspice and cumin. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 70-80 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Eat warm or allow to cool. Serve with bread, crackers, cheese or poultry.
Tomato and Cucumber “Caprese” Salad – Serves 6
4 large vine tomatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
1/2 English cucumber, sliced 1/4″ thick
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and torn into pieces
8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. On a large platter, layer the tomatoes and cucumber in an alternating pattern. Top with the mozzarella cheese and basil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad. Serve immediately or allow to sit for about 15 minutes so flavors can meld.
SoCal Tomato Sandwich – Serves 2
4 slices country-style bread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, recipe below
1 large avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sprouts
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced 1/2″ thick
Spread the mayonnaise evenly between all four slices of bread. Layer the toppings on two slices of bread, starting with the avocado, sprouts and finally the tomato. Top with the remaining two slices and serve.
Homemade Mayonnaise – Approximately 1/2 cup
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water until frothy and combined, approximately 3 minutes.
2. Pour the olive oil and safflower oil into liquid measuring cup, then slowly stream into the egg yolk, whisking continuously until the mixture doubles in volume and looks thick and pale, approximately 5-7 minutes.
3. Stir in the dry mustard powder and lemon juice until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper.