Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tomato Season! 10 ideas for tomatoes.

I definitely LOVE a good tomato, who doesn't?  (Okay, I know there are some non-tomato lovers out there but I'm not one of them.)
The best tomato is, in my opinion, one grown in my parent's backyard garden.  These are the tomatoes I grew up eating and they were sweet, and warm, and sometimes ripened on my mom's kitchen windowsill.
Imagine my horror when after purchasing our home, my husband and I discovered that we had no sun anywhere!!!  No garden!!!  I can grow shade plants only.  There is a tiny bit of sun the peeks through our mature trees every now and then so I tried to grow tomatoes in buckets in a wheelbarrow that I would wheel into the sun throughout the day.  Needless to say, it didn't work for several reasons!  So now I am at the mercy of my relatives and friends who have sunny yards (shout-out to Jill for the grape tomatoes I photographed above, then ate!)
Even without an overabundance of my own tomatoes, I know that those with gardens sometimes have more than they can handle.  So ideas 1-10 are "send them to me"...just kidding (kinda).
I linked to sources where necessary!

1. Make your own salsa and give it as gifts.  Can it!  Here is a canning-safe recipe from Ball.  I try to follow canning recipes pretty closely for safety reasons.  This would make a great little gift with some homemade tortillas, dried peppers from your garden, and homemade taco seasoning. (Mix salt, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and red pepper to taste).

2.  Caprese salad.  A favorite at my house!  Have you seen all the variations on Pinterest lately?  I love the one where you use a toothpick and thread the basil, a cherry tomato, and a tiny mozzarella ball on it.  Drizzle with olive oil, quality balsamic, and a bit of salt and pepper.  For a traditional version, use a larger tomato cut into slices, large ball of mozzarella slices, basil leaves (I roll them and smash a little to get the flavors out!) then drizzle with the same stuff.

3.  Homemade pasta sauce.  This is easier than it sounds.  It works best of you peel the tomatoes (cut out stem, cut an x in the bottom, drop in boiling water then pull out immediately and plunge in ice water).  Then simmer the tomatoes, olive oil, wine, herbs, garlic, and some tomato paste.  There are ENDLESS variations, that's why no recipe.  Perhaps I will actually measure my recipe out next time but I make it different every time based on what I have on-hand!

4.  Juice them- Have you ever juiced tomatoes?  My mom used to juice hers and can the juice to use in soups.  I would probably go more for a nice fresh Bloody Mary at brunch though :)

5.  Use them to dye fabric!  Here is an ehow article on dying things with natural objects.  I have heard of brightening red hair with tomatoes too, but my hair isn't red so I didn't try it, haha!

6.  Tomato sandwich.  I feel like this is a Midwest thing?  Let me know if you are outside the Midwest and eat these too.  It's just tomato, salt, pepper, and mayo on bread.  You could also get wild and make a nice BLT.  I would use some locally produced bacon, yummy!

7.  Roasted cherry or grape tomatoes.  This is a great side dish!  Simply toss with olive oil and fresh minced garlic and roast in the oven at 400 degrees F until they burst.  Salt to taste.

8.  Healthy lunch- slice up a big ripe tomato and top with cottage cheese.  I think I could eat this every day.

9.  Pizza Margherita- Make some pizza dough, pre-bake it a bit, then top with tomato slices, basil leaves, fresh minced garlic, and drizzle with olive oil.  Then place some tiny mozzarella balls on top and bake!

10.  Tomato facial- Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, and they are acidic!  So rub one into your face, let it soak in for bit, then rinse off.  This will make your skin nice and glow-y and should help with minimizing pores!  (If you have sensitive skin you might want to test a tiny amount first!)

I hope I helped you put all those yummy tomatoes to good use!  Share your favorite tomato recipes below!

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