Tomatoes are on the menu today! We’ll be making a burst cherry tomato compote that positively explodes with flavor. But first, I stopped by the Bloomington Farmers Market to talk to someone who grows and sells heirloom tomatoes.
Life Certified Organic Farm
“Today we have a variety of heirloom tomatoes – it’s our first week for those,” says Bobbi Boos. She works for Life Certified Organic Farm, which stands for Local Indiana Food Enterprises. It is a family-owned farm that spans 14 acres in Morgan and Monroe Counties, Indiana. She says they will continue to sell tomatoes for another few weeks.
Unlike conventional tomatoes that have been bred to be uniform in size and shape, heirloom tomatoes are be any number of different colors and shapes. “They have lots of different flavors. Some of them are really tangy, some of them are super sweet, some of them are thick and good for making sauces, and some of them are a little juicier.”
A Variety of Tomatoes in the Garden
If you grow your own tomatoes, you need to use up that bounty somehow. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll give you a number of ideas for how to use tomatoes in your cooking. In this recipe, we’re using those little flavor bullets, the candy of the tomato family: cherry tomatoes.
Chef Daniel Orr grows a variety of tomatoes in his garden. “Some little tiny current ones, some pear-shaped ones, we’ve got the typical round sweet 100 style. Each one of these tomatoes has a different flavor and different texture,” he says as he picks tomatoes to use in our first dish.
Burst Cherry Tomatoes
Try this dish as a starter for your next family dinner. Then, next growing season, lay down some cherry tomato seeds and enjoy the bounty that bursts through. Fair warning: they’re addictive. Note: try adding anchovies, capers, basil and/or olives for a change of pace.
- 2 pints. cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Aux Poivres Spice Blend (recipe follows)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup roughly chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove stems from tomatoes.
- Heat oil in a large saute pan and remove from heat. Add the tomatoes and cover to prevent splattering.
- Return to heat and add garlic. Cook just until the skins split.
- Season with remaining ingredients and toss carefully with the tomatoes. Best served at room temperature.
- Pour over tart shell; serve over pasta, meat or fish; add to vegetable plate.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Aux Poivres Spice Blend
- 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cracked white pepper
- 2 tablespoons Chinese Szechuan pepper
- 3 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoon guinea pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Coarsely crack all the peppercorns and spices separately and combine with the red pepper flakes. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Husked Tomatoes: Tomatillos
We picked some tomatillos straight from the garden for this recipe, “and they look like little Japanese lanterns,” says Chef Orr. “We’ve got several different varieties. Some of them blush purple when they’re really ripe, and those are super sweet.”
Salsa Verde With Fresh Tomatillos
This is not a raw salsa. “We’re going to roast these vegetables off and get them a little carmelized,” Chef Orr explains. “That’s also going evaporate some of the moisture in the onions and tomatillos, which will make the sauce a little bit thicker and give it great flavor.”
- 15-20 tomatillos, sliced
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 chile pepper, chopped (keep the seeds for extra heat!)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the chopped vegetables with lemon zest and olive oil.
- Roast the vegetables in an over-proof pan under a broiler. The vegetables will cook down and become carmelized.
- After broiling the vegetables, add the basil and an additional clove of garlic (chopped). Pulse the mixture in a food processor.
- Add raw vegetables after processing as you like, such as red onions or additional tomatillos. Feel free to add whatever flavors you especially enjoy.
- Choose a chile pepper that will provide the heat and flavor you’re looking for (serrano, jalapeño, habanero, etc). Add remaining ingredients and pulse in food processor until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Also On The Podcast: Healthy School Lunches
Author Janet Poppendieck joined us to discuss school lunch policy reform and history, and how society is impacted by the federal school lunch program.
Listen to the complete interview »
And earlier in the week, we asked you for your favorite healthy school lunch tips.
News Stories On The Podcast
- Federal Court To USDA: Rethink Genetically Modified Sugar Beets
- Egg Recall Expands To 380 Million Eggs, Salmonella Outbreak Blamed
How are you using your tomatoes? leave a comment and let us know.
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