by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter’
The aromas coming from All The Best kitchen always set my taste buds tingling. This week, pots of garlic-infused eggplants, onions, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes simmer on the stove, pans of squash, carrots and sweet potatoes seasoned with fresh rosemary roast in the oven and purple plum upside down cakes sit cooling on racks… these are among the irresistible scents of our local harvest.
This is the time of year when our own locally-grown tomatoes are at their best. You’ll find them in every size, shape and hue- sun-ripened and packed with flavour. Last week I came home from the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market laden with large, nobbly, tomatoes of brilliant red with sweet, juicy flesh, and fabulous organic plum tomatoes of red, yellow, orange and green (some delicately striped or mottled) with slightly sharper taste and firmer flesh. We are enjoying a tomato fest!
It’s hard to beat the classic combination of a perfect ripe tomato with freshly snipped basil, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and just a sprinkle of sea salt. Other herbs work well too: try fresh chervil, chives, oregano, rosemary and even sage. Tomatoes also pair beautifully with many cheeses to make delicious salads or snacks. Enjoy them with a crumbly sheep’s milk feta, a creamy goat’s milk cheese or a soft, fresh mozzarella.
Tip: Keep tomatoes on your kitchen counter to ripen and enjoy fresh at room temperature. Stored in the refrigerator they never develop their ultimate flavour…which is why the travel-weary tomatoes available for most of the year are bland and tasteless.
Intensely favoured, slow-roasted tomatoes are delicious to serve over greens in a salad, to top a goat cheese crostini, to tuck into a sandwich or an omelette and to add flavour to risottos and sauces.
1 tsp (5 ml) sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly ground pepper
1 tsp (5 ml) fine sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil or oregano
2 lbs (1 kg) ripe plum tomatoes,
Preheat oven to 250° F (120° C). In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, sugar and herbs. Cut tomatoes crosswise into slices about 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) thick. Arrange tomato slices on parchment-lined baking trays in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with salt/sugar mixture. Set in oven and roast slowly until tomatoes are shriveled but still soft about 2 hours. Store covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or place in sterilized jars, cover with olive oil and keep for a month.
Variation: Slice tomatoes lengthwise and arrange cut side up on prepared baking sheets. Proceed as above but increase roasting time until tomatoes are shriveled but still soft, 3 to 4 hours, depending on size.
Be sure to check out www.allthebestfinefoods.com/menu to see our weekly menus. You’ll find lots of new and scrumptious ways to celebrate the season and details of our Thanksgiving Prix Fixe Turkey Dinner.
Enjoy and all the best,