Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tomato Time!

“Every blade of grass has an Angel bending over it saying. 'Grow, Grow!” ~ The Talmud

I own a house in Brooklyn, NY that has a very small backyard. It doesn't even have any dirt in it, as it consists of a cement patio and a wooden deck. I love to garden, however, so every Spring I plant a variety of herbs and vegetables in an assortment of pots, water them every day, and like the proverbial angel I whisper over them all summer to "grow- grow." The photo above is my garden about a month ago. Now everything has reached its prime and I am reaping a basket full of tomatoes almost every day!

I grew heirloom Lemon Boys, Big Boys, plum, and grape tomatoes.

Our favorite way to eat them is as a Caprese salad, which are rows of sliced tomatoes, spaced with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, and a fresh basil leaf, then sprinkled with salt, black pepper and dried oregano, and then generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top of all. This has been our dinner a few times in the past few weeks accompanied by some crusty chewy fresh Italian bread to mop up all the wonderful juices!

Today I had a batch of less than perfect tomatoes that did not look good enough to use in a salad. A few days of overcast thunderstorm weather had left them a little anemic as they ripened. So I fire roasted them on my grill until they were soft and their skins were slightly charred. I used a handy little rack that Williams-Sonoma presently has in their sale section, that held the tomatoes securely while they roasted.
After roasting, I passed the tomatoes through a food mill that I bought here, which strained them and removed the skin and seeds, creating a tomato puree. Then, in a small saucepan, I sauteed some finely chopped onion and two cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil until soft, and added the strained tomato puree, a small amount of salt and a few fresh basil leaves, and simmered it for as long as it took to cook a pound of Farfalle pasta.

It was another perfect taste of summer! Roasting the tomatoes gives them a more intense flavor, and simmering them quickly produces a light and delicate sauce. Adding some fresh peas and cooked shrimp would make another delicious variation of this dish.

How are you using your summer tomatoes? I have to admit I've also eaten a few right off the vine, cut in half and sprinkled with a little salt or smeared with a little mayonnaise...yum!

32 comments:

Michele said...

Your photos look wonderful! No matter what you take a picture of it always looks incredible! Whether it's a restauarant, a building, a garden or food, I always wish I was there with you!

I've been eating tomatoes from the farmers market that are really ripe and beautiful with a little salt and evoo. I know, soo ridiculously simple but they are so perfect I don't want to ruin them!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Pat,we ate them in a dozen different ways and as you know, I canned them for a month! Ours have been gone for 3 weeks and you are now eating yours!:)

Blossom said...

I love the not-so-ripe tomatoes. When they are too ripe, they tend to be more sour, aren't they? Love them raw.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I am impressed with your container gardening. You've grown some gorgeous tomatoes and other things as well. Just goes to show you where there's a will, there's a way.

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Pat, you have such a glorious harvest. The colors are vibrant and I'll bet those vegetables are delicious looking.

steviewren said...

Fresh juicy tomatoes are the best food of the summer. Your salad looks mouthwateringly delicious. I have no luck growing them. Good thing the stores keep the aisles stocked.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Pat, everytime you feature food on your blog, I get hungry! I love tomatoes.

supplies overflowing! said...

Yum!! We do the same thing with our tomatoes, and basil and moz. cheese, though the tomatoes and cheese come from a farmer's market.
Home grown tomatoes are the best!

Brenda said...

Lovely garden, Pat! (And thanks for the recipe!)

guild-rez said...

Pat
Tomatoes?
I love them a lot and they are very healthy..I grow the smaller Cherry Tomatoes for salads.
Later Ontario field tomatoes are my favourites, big and juicy.
Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as the carotenoid lycopene. Tomatoes are also high in potassium but very low in sodium which means they help combat high blood pressure and fluid retention.

Thank you for the great pictures and recipes,
Gisela.

happyone said...

Love your "garden." I have moved to a townhouse this year without any backyard. Just a deck - I plan on having a garden like you next year. :-)
I love Caprese salad!! That along with the bread sound like a wonderful dinner!!

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

Oh, I'm so jealous!! I didn't get my tomatoes planted this year. There's nothing better than a fresh ripe tomato still warm from the sun. Good for you to be so determined and disciplined to grow them in containers. They're beautiful!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Your proverbial angel has watched over you Pat, your tomatoes look beautiful, especially in that salad. That would be dinner for me too, with that good bread you were talking about. There's nothing like home grown tomatoes!

Tracy said...

LOVE your easy, container gardening in your patio-like yard, Pat--wonderful how you've crammed in so much--and now harvesting so much! We are enjoying fresh tomatoes much as you do--sliced and with mozzarella, basil leaves, a big pinch fresh ground salt & pepper and with a little drizzle of a balsamic-olive oil dressing... oh, so good! Along with tomatoes, corn on the cob and strawberries have to be some of the very best tastes of summer...mmm...I'm hungry now--LOL! Happy Day, my friend ((HUGS))

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Wow.. your pictures are wonderful girl. My husband loves to eat tomatoes the same way..lol We've been fortunate to have a neighbor keeping him supplied with fresh tomatoes. He always looks forward to the end of the season to have fried green tomatoes. Each time I fix them I think of the movie..lol. I hope you weathered the storm ok.. hugs ~lynne~

Musings of a Sea Witch said...

If I bring my grandma nana's famous cheesecake (she immigrated from Russia to NYC at the turn of the century) can I come for supper? So loving your blog...it is a respite for me when I am homesick for NYC. Sea Witch

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Why is it that I'm wanting tomatoes for breakfast? I picked a huge tub of tomatoes when we got home from vacation...and we are enjoying them every which way. Now I have some new ideas...thanks.

You have a most bountiful patio garden!

Marilyn said...

Now you did it.....
I'm on my way to the Farmer's Market to get some tomatoes!! LOL!!
Photos are mouth-watering!!
Hugs,
Marilyn
xxoo

Daziano said...

I'd love to grow my own tomatoes. They taste so much better!!!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I don't have enough room to grow tomatoes (even in pots like you! I suppose I could but I fear they'd dry out on "work days" when I'm not there to water) BUT I've been buying from farm stands. I skin them, chop then and saute with garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper. They really create their own sauce so easily! Then I chop basil, which I am growing, toss that in and serve over whole wheat pasta. YUM! I'm also on a "pizza on the grill" kick, too.

Beverly said...

Pat, I am going to have to stop coming to see you while I am at work. You always leave me drooling for something delicious. ;-)

Melanie said...

What a productive courtyard garden! I am amazed by how many varieties of tomato you get got these days. There's a lovely spicey one with a striped appearance I like.

My daughter made her first bolognaise from scratch this holiday! I am so pleased -it was delicious. She knew carbonara so I know that she wont starve when the time for uni comes. :-)

Lisa Michelle said...

OMG, what a beautiful and colorful Caprese salad..and the way you arranged it is gorgeous! Your tomatoes are spectacular, Pat!

That said, I have a 'present' for you :) You can pick it up here:

http://lisamichele.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pomegranate-sticks-to-the-ribs/

Scroll to the bottom of that entry to grab it :)

BTW, how 'bout that Sox sweep? That was awesome!

imjacobsmom said...

Yum, Pat! You have my mouth watering! I just love the fresh fire roasted tomatoes. It really does add to their flavor. My tomatoes are still green on the vine. But they are going to be plentiful and I can't wait! ~ Robyn

Diane Schuller said...

oh yum, I didn't grow fresh basil this year and am REALLY missing salads such as this (I didn't know it had a name!). It's just not the same w/out the fresh basil. What a delightful array of recipes!

Paz said...

I love everything you've prepared! Love it!

Paz

Sara said...

Salad Caprese - yum! One of my favorites. And any kind of pasta too! I think I love pasta even more than bread.

Sara said...

PS: and, your little container garden is simply amazing! And inspiring to this non-gardener.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Oh, don't you just love these perfect tastes of summer? The tomatoes, basil, etc..it is heaven. We made pesto last night, and I made ratatouille the night before. It is worth all of the effort to grow the veggies.
♥, Susan

Sue said...

Pat- What a perfect courtyard garden to grow all of your fresh veggies!! My mouth is actually watering thinking of basil and tomatoes together with fresh mozzarella... yummmmm...

aliceinparis said...

Wonderful tomatoes!!! The Caprese salad looks divine!
Have you seen Julia and Juila yet?? You will LOVE it. I did. It made me want to come home and cook and create and learn and work hard:) So full of life and love that film:)

Cianoy said...

Congratulations on the tomato bounty.

How long from planting to harvesting? I'm getting impatient with my tomatoes. It's been two months and they're still tiny!

When you roast tomatoes, does that have the same taste as sun dried?