The Weekend Dish – Basil Tomatoes

_MG_9857 basil tomatoesHere we are in the midst of tomato season and perhaps, if you’re lucky, your counter has been overrun with a red sea of tomatoes inviting all sorts of possibilities. This Basil Tomatoes recipe enhances the tomato’s natural flavor with basil, garlic and roasting. The result is an elegant tomato which can be served along with bread or added to pasta or as an accompaniment to fish or meat however you choose you can’t go wrong.

_MG_9866 basil tomatoesThe tomatoes are peeled and cored and placed whole on a bed of basil leaves then garlic and olive oil are added. It’s that simple.

_MG_9868 basil tomoatoesPlace the dish in the oven and bake for an hour to an hour and a half. Your home will be filled with the most comforting and inviting aroma as an extra bonus. This recipe came to my attention via the rave reviews of a backyard son after having enjoyed it with Nana and Granddad one late summer night many years ago, and it has been a hit in this backyard house ever since.

_MG_9873 basil tomatoes

Buon Appetito!

~ Susan

 Basil Tomatoes

  • 8 tomatoes, peeled and cored. To peel the tomatoes, add to boiling water for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon then plunge into ice water for a minute or so and the skin will slide off easily.
  • 1-2 bunches of basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic

Place the basil leaves in a bed at the bottom of a pan big enough to hold the 8 tomatoes. Place the tomatoes, core side down, on top of the basil. Add olive oil to come half way up the sides of the tomatoes. Add the garlic to the pan, you can chop it or add more and leave the cloves whole. Bake at 350° for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until the tomatoes caramelize and become infused with the basil perfumed olive oil.Serve with bread, pasta or with fish or meat.

The Weekend Dish – Fresh-Tomato Dishes

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.

Salsa Fresca

15 tomatoes
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.