I have a bit of a problem. Though many, myself included, might say it is a good problem. We all should be so lucky to have “problems” like this. It has its roots in the spring. In April, when it began warming up here in southern California, the eco-warrior turned his thoughts to planting the vegetable garden. The past few years or so, he decided to focus on tomatoes. We love tomatoes and the ones sold in supermarkets just don’t hold a candle to homegrown ones. The entire garden is dedicated to tomatoes. First, he came home with about 30 plants, then, a few days later, about 20 more. For a while there, it seemed like every time I turned around he would be walking across the yard carrying a six or eight pack of tomato plants. Our garden is fairly large, but it was filling up fast.
I inquired if all these plants would fit and was constantly reassured there would be room and we would be so glad in the summer. The first tomatoes began ripening in mid-June and since then, we have had a patio table full of tomatoes and a few more on the counter in the kitchen.
We have shared with family and friends and scoured cookbooks and the internet for recipes as well as trying to create a few of my own. We have been eating so many tomatoes every day, I’m surprised we aren’t turning red! It has been a never ending cycle of using the ripest and then, just as the table top is starting to be visible again, it fills up from another harvest. Like I said, we love tomatoes and I do enjoy the challenge of trying to incorporate them in as many dishes as possible and creating some new ones as well, but I feel guilty if we fall behind and some get overripe. These tomatoes are delicious, sweet and flavorful. However, I feel like I am bailing the Titanic with a pail. I recently came across this article on some of the surprising benefits of tomatoes and felt re-invigorated by the thoughts of all those vitamins and “good for me” nutrients just waiting to be devoured in our backyard. One of our favorite ways to use the tomatoes is in a salsa fresca.
½ sweet onion
1 clove garlic
½ bunch of cilantro
1 jalapeno seeds and membrane removed
juice of 2 limes
½-1 tsp salt
Chop the tomatoes and onion and add to a large bowl. Finely mince the garlic,cilantro and jalapeno and add to bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Stir, then taste. Ingredients can be adjusted to taste preference. Add more or less jalapeno for spiciness preference, etc. Serve with tortilla chips or put in tacos, burritos, refried beans or anywhere you want a little spicy tomato sauce.
Makes enough for a party!
For breakfast, I have been making Salsa Fresca Poached Eggs. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan, heat over medium high heat, then add about 2 cups of salsa. I let that simmer and thicken for about 10-15 minutes, sometimes shorter, (depending on how hungry I am). Then, add 3 or 4 eggs put a lid on the pan and let them poach for about 4-5 minutes; time can be adjusted to how done you like your eggs. I serve it with warm corn tortillas.
For the Italian version of the above dish, Tomato Italiano Poached Eggs: add chopped sweet onion and a clove of chopped garlic to the pan with the olive oil and cook until softened then add about 1 tsp sage and 1/2 tsp rosemary, this can also be adjusted to your taste preference. Next, add 6-8 tomatoes chopped and simmer until thickened a bit 10-15 minutes. Salt and pepper to your taste, then add about 6 oil-cured olives, halved, and 3-4 eggs. Put the lid on the pan and cook 4-5 minutes, or to your liking. Serve with a good Italian bread toasted.
I think next year I will suggest staggering our plantings but for this year, here’s to lycopene, and salsa, and bruschetta, and oven-roasted garlic and basil tomatoes, and …
I know I’ll miss you in the winter.