Friday, July 23, 2010

Feasting Friday- Tomato Time

First off, don’t forget that the amazing kitchen gear contest is still going on through next week, so click here for all the details!

It is neighbor’s garden and Farmers Market time, and one of the things that everyone has in abundance is tomatoes. Were I not completely incapable of growing anything, and had I a garden, I would grow tomatoes. And yes, I can hear many of you saying there is no such thing as a black thumb, and of course I could grow things if I wanted.

To you I say the following:

I killed mint.

Yep, that scourge of the garden, practically a weed, everyone I know plants one little piece and end up with something akin to an acre of the stuff.

Still not convinced?


Fake tree. Dead. All the fake leaves fell off of the fake branches like a weird little autumnal scene in my living room, except they didn’t turn colors first. I was left with an odd fake twiggy thing with a few leaves holding on for dear life. I am not exactly sure what happened, but once it gave up the ghost, I knew my plant growing days were over. People who know me well call me The Cooler, and ask me to come over and just touch their more insidious weeds. I buy fresh herbs, and I shamelessly accept piles of garden goodness from my green thumbed friends, and I go to the farmstands in the country and farmer’s markets in the city.

It is a shock to many how much I love to cook with tomatoes, especially great ripe fresh ones, since most people know I cannot stomach a raw tomato.

Ditto tomato juice. Gack. (For the complete embarassing list of everything your odd little foodie Polymath does not eat, check out this post.)

But cooked, in pretty much every fashion, LOVE! You will surely find me picking slices off sandwiches, pushing chunks off of salads, and declining Bloody Mary’s. I am likely to make Caprese Salad with watermelon subbing in for tomato. I like my bruschetta topping cooked and served warm or at room temp, which is why I either make it myself or lean on my good friend John B to work his brushetta magic. All of my gazpachos are white.

However, bring some heat to the party and the tomato is my bestest friend. I love a good red sauce on my pasta. I think of ketchup as a major food group. I adore tomato soups of all warm varieties. I like them confit in olive oil, turned into a flan, baked in tarts.

So, in honor of the height of tomato season, I thought I would share some of my favorite ways to prepare them! After all, you can only eat so many of them raw before you get bored…


Thanks to for the pic

Can be served hot or cold and can easily be turned into a gajillion other recipes.

Approx 4 lbs. fresh tomatoes - I use a mix of plum and cherry for depth of flavor, but use whatever your garden grown…it is only essential they be fresh and very ripe.

1 medium sweet onion or 4 large shallots, diced fine

2 T Herbs de Provence

¼ c Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Cut tomatoes in half, toss in olive oil to coat, and arrange cut side down on 2 oiled sheet pans. Be sure that the pans have at least a 1 inch rim, otherwise you will have tomato juice all over your oven.

Add the onion or shallot evenly on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the herbs and liberal salt and pepper. Roast approx 1.5 to 2 hours until skins are loose and the flesh is soft.

Peel skins off tomatoes and discard. Dump the contents of the sheet pans into a large bowl, being sure not to lose any juices. You can mash them with a potato masher for an extra chunky texture, but I often use my immersion blender to get a soup that is a good balance between smooth and chunky. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

I serve this hot, room temp, or cold with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and some chopped fresh mint for grown-ups. Yes, basil is natural, but mint and tomatoes are a really summery combo, and unless I have been to visit, you should have plenty around.

Add alphabet noodles, mini meatballs, or cooked rice for kids. Stir in toasted croutons and drizzle with olive oil and shredded Parmesan for a classic Pappa al Pomodoro. Add fresh basil and garlic and you have a chunky pasta sauce. Add fresh oregano and it becomes pizza sauce. Freezes beautifully, can be canned if you are ambitious, and lasts up to two weeks in fridge.


Thanks to for the pic.

3 sticks unsalted butter

6 T sherry vinegar
6 T tomato water (chop 2 large fresh peeled tomatoes into a large dice and cook over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, then strain in a sieve lined with cheesecloth to just capture the juice. Can substitutes one small can of crushed tomatoes strained)
2 T strained tomatoes (from making the tomato water)

12 T extra-virgin olive oil

2 T chopped shallot

2 t Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until browned but not burned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve, but be sure it does not congeal…should be barely warm, but still liquid to make the vinaigrette.

In a blender (or with your immersion blender), combine the vinegar, tomato water, olive oil, shallot and mustard. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the reserved butter and blend until thickened. Season to taste and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. If you have to put it in the fridge, be sure to bring it back to room temp before serving.

I use this as a salad dressing (regular or pasta salad), but also as a dip for shrimp, skewers of veggies, or cooked chilled cheese tortellini skewered with artichoke hearts for an elegant appetizer.


Thanks to for the pic.

6 slices bread, crusts removed and cubed (I recommend Challah, brioche, or soft white bread for this. NO sourdough, whole wheat or other full flavored breads here!) about 2 ½-3 cups cubes.

¾ c butter, melted

1 1/3 c packed brown sugar

½ t salt

½ c boiling water

20 oz homemade tomato puree (or canned if you do not have a garden full of tomatoes and too much time on your hands)

Scatter the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of a 1 ½ qt buttered casserole dish, and pour the butter over the cubes. Let absorb completely, about 10-15 minutes. Mix tomato puree with water, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Let boil for 5 minutes, then pour over bread. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve hot.

To serve as a vegetable, leave as is, or drizzle with a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. To serve as a dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, olive oil gelato, or crème fraîche mixed with a little bit of honey.

Don't forget to enter the contest...this package of fabulous prizes could be yours!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath


  1. That tomato pudding looks interesting...does it really taste good?

    My summer tomato favorite is gazpacho....I make it every year, each time a little differently. Having a cold, tangy soup on a hot day is just sublime.

  2. I swear the Tomato Pudding is delish. I love it as a vegetable side dish, especially with pork or chicken.

  3. I'm pretty sure you are my new hero!! I LOVE tomatoes (which is so funny since I used to hate them), and I've been dying for some good tomato soup recipes. YIPPEE!!

  4. And I must add that each growing season I attempt to plant herbs and veggies, and at some point in the season my husband calls me a serial plant killer. My mother has the greenest thumb in the world, yet I am apart of the Black Thumb Sisterhood. ;o)

  5. You are totally my new hero. I also hate raw tomatoes ( the slimy part with the seeds makes me physically retch) but just cook that little sucker and I can eat my own body weight!

  6. My family was asking for homemade tomato soup and I told them I would try to find a recipe and make it for them (personally, I can not stand the stuff.) Well after hearing about this recipe on our book club field trip I decided to try it. My whole family loved it...including me! Thanks so much for sharing the lovely recipe.