September 6, 2010

Things To Do With Summer Tomatoes aka I Hope You Like Basil

Tomatoes have been my favorite food since I was a little girl; I never go more than a few days without eating them in one form or another, and I always have them in my kitchen. To me, they're a staple (just look back at my previous recipes). Late summer is basically heaven for my tastebuds, as tomatoes are at the peak of their growing season, abundant in number and with the best flavor they'll have all year.

Tomato Salad: pretty much my favorite food in the world

Sunday Summer Tomato & Bread Soup
serves 4
This is a perfect soup to make on a Sunday afternoon. I meant to write this post yesterday and call it "Sunday Soup & Other Stuff," but I had way too good of a time at the Hatch Chile Festival and went to bed super early. Labor Day is really like Sunday take two, though, so I'm going to pretend "Sunday Soup" still applies. I went to the Farmer's Market (the one here in Las Cruces is really awesome) and bought 1.5 lbs of cherry tomatoes for $2.  I was wondering what to do with them when I remembered this recipe, which I adapted. I think you could easily make this recipe using regular tomatoes, as long as you seed them first.

1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic
1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken, your choice)
2 tbsps olive oil
2 handfuls of stale bread
a bunch of fresh basil
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prick each of the cherry tomatoes (I used both red and yellow) with a toothpick once or twice. In a roasting pan, add the tomatoes. Glug on some olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and strategically place basil leaves.

I lost my camera, so this picture was taken on my phone

3. Roast for 20 minutes or so, or until tomatoes are slightly shrunken.
4. While cherry tomatoes are roasting, saute the garlic in 1 tbsp of olive olive in a soup pot, then add the canned tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 a can (14 oz) of water, plus 1 cup broth. Bring to a boil.
6. Stir in some salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
7. Turn down heat and let simmer for 15 minutes or so.
8. When tomatoes are done roasting, add to pot. Then gently stir in the bread and some chopped basil.
9. The soup may need a bit more salt or Italian seasoning, but you should definitely serve it with fresh parmesan on top.

About to stir the bread in
I didn't have any stale bread, so I toasted some pre-sliced whole-wheat to put in the soup. This was not the best choice; baguette or Italian bread would work better here. I actually overdid it with the bread and my soup ended up pretty thick, so watch yourself with the bread handfuls. You'll want to make sure you still have some broth left by the end of the recipe.

This is an ideal summer soup, because it cooks up fast (not a lot of time sweating over a hot stove) and it's fairly light. According to Cheap Healthy Good, it has 402 calories per serving.

Tomato Salad
serves 1-2 as a side dish
If tomatoes are my favorite food, this is probably my favorite way to eat them. This simple salad is always part of my go-to meal, sometimes as a side dish, sometimes as the actual main dish. My grandmother would always make it for me when I came to visit as a child, and I continue to love it fiercely. I eat it year-round, but it is particularly wonderful during the summer, when fresh basil and tomatoes are both in season.


2-3 tomatoes, diced (works well with tomatoes of all sizes except cherry or grape)
glug of good-quality olive oil
glug of balsamic vinegar
5 or so leaves of fresh basil, chopped

1. Dice the tomatoes and put into a bowl, being sure to get all the good juice in there too.
2. Glug some olive oil over them--enough to make them oily, but not so they're swimming in it.
3. Glug some balsamic vinegar over that--not too much, but to your liking.
4. Stir, then taste to see if the oil-vinegar ratio is correct; if not, add more of either one.
5. Add the salt and pepper and basil, stir again.
6. Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors can combine.

It's also quite possible to make this with dried or dehydrated basil, which I frequently do in the winter. Substituting garlic salt is delicious, as is adding in some chopped mozzarella. It's the best over bread (if you've ever eaten bruschetta, this is basically the way to make it), which you can then use to sop up the salty-vinegary-basily tomato juice when you've eaten all the actual tomatoes. Tomato Salad is also pretty healthful, as the main ingredient is your average 50-calorie tomato. Fast, simple, cheap, and flavorful.

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