Tis the season for red and green! And yellow and purple and orange tomatoes. Tomatoes are being sliced and slurped all over the country right now, and in the Bay Area we’re particularly lucky to have an amazing crop of heirloom tomatoes to die for. I’ve been eating them every single day and can’t get enough. Below are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them this year (it changes every year).
1. The perfect fresh tomato recipe
2. Tomato and “mozzarella” salad
4. Penne pasta with fresh tomato sauce
5. Grilled “cheese” sandwich
6. 5 minute tostadas
7. Frito Pie
#1 The perfect fresh tomato recipe
Find a ripe heirloom tomato. Slice. Salt. Eat.
(sorry, I couldn’t resist).
#2 Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
1 block VERY fresh, firm tofu (see notes below)
1 large or 2 medium beefsteak tomatoes, very ripe, heirloom if possible. If using two, get two different colors.
3-4 sprigs fresh basil
3 Tb extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
–Slice the tofu and tomatoes very thin. Arrange on a plate, alternating tomato slices with tofu. Tuck the basil
leaves in between the slices. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It may need a touch more salt than you’re used to because tofu is not pre-salted like mozzarella is.
–Let marinate for about 20 minutes, while you make your main course. Eat at room temperature. Good served on a bed of lettuce as well.
Note: Becky brought a block of the fresh tofu from the San Francisco farmer’s market for this salad, and it was amazing. Don’t get extra firm tofu, firm or medium—think of the cheese you used to buy. You could even use Mori-Nu
silken, I think. Keep it fresh, don’t make this salad with the ½ pound of tofu you’ve had sitting in your fridge for two weeks (actually, please don’t make anything with that tofu).
#3 Panzanella (old-fashioned Italian bread salad)
1 loaf very good bread—as in hearty. I like seeded sourdough or any of Acme’s heartier loaves. Tear or cut into small pieces.
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine
½ white onion, chopped
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
The kernels from 2 ears of very fresh sweet corn (discard the cobs)
3 large or 4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
16 (approximately) fresh basil leaves, chopped.
–In a very large bowl, the biggest bowl you have, mix the garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, and corn.
–Stir in the bread cubes and chopped tomatoes and basil. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if you need to.
–It’s good eaten right away, but don’t eat it all—it’s even better the next day when it’s marinated! You can eat it
cold or room temperature, or bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 300 degrees for a bit of a toastiness. Also nice served on lettuce.
–Only use the corn if it’s sweet and tender enough to eat raw. Traditional panzanella doesn’t have corn so it’s OK to leave it out. You can also add chopped kalamata olives.
–Not sure about eating bread like this? It’s the same idea as French toast, or the bread floating in French onion soup, or bread pudding. Try it—it’s addictive! It’s also nice for hot summer picnics because it doesn’t involve
cooking to make or serve. Really lets the tomatoes shine.
#4 Penne pasta with fresh tomato sauce
You know, I said penne but this is actually just as good (if not better) with angel hair. Tomato sauces have the reputation for being very time-consuming, but when you’re using fresh tom’s the sauce shouldn’t take longer to make
than the pasta does to cook!
1# penne or angel hair pasta
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery (seriously), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 baskets (about 1#) ripe and delicious cherry tomatoes, sungolds are the best I think, washed and de-stemmed.
A handful of chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 Tb dried basil
½ # baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wide sauté pan, heat the oil and sauté the onion, celery, and garlic over medium heat. Cook the pasta at the same time.
When the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes and herbs. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are just starting to explode.
Add the spinach and the cooked, drained pasta. Mix well and eat!
#5 Grilled “cheese” sandwich
Two slices of your favorite sandwich bread, lightly buttered on one side with Earth Balance.
2-3 thick slices of a ripe heirloom tomato
mustard (if you like it)
4-5 slices of cheddar style Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze
Put the bread on the counter, butter side OUT. Make the sandwich with mustard, cheese and tomatoes. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and slowly cook the sandwich on both sides, going for a golden brown toasty outside and a melty softness inside. Eat right away. Very good served with salad.
#6 Five Minute Tostadas (and this recipe is actually healthy)
1 package fresh, lard-free corn tortillas
1 can fat-free vegetarian refried beans
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1 head of lettuce, shredded
1 avocado, sliced or smashed
½ bunch green onions, chopped
Spread each tortilla with a layer of beans, and then bake in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes. While they’re baking, chop and combine the other ingredients.
Put a hot tostada on a plate, cover with the cool chopped mixture and eat with plenty of napkins.
#7 Frito pie!!
I am not kidding. The ultimate, incredibly delicious, too embarrassing to tell anyone you eat it junk food recipe.
Gussied up here with the additions of fresh guac and, of course, heirloom tomatoes.
2 cans of your favorite vegan chili.
1 large bag Fritos corn chips
1/2 block cheddar Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze, grated.
2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, made into guacamole or just sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
–Pour the chili into a pyrex pie pan or casserole dish. Top with about ½ bag of the Frito’s. Top those with the cheese.
–Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
–Mix the tomatoes, avo and onions together.
–Remove. Serve and eat with spoonfuls of the cool mixture on top. Be sure to hide the left-overs because it’s really embarrassing to get caught with Frito’s in your house.