Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods. My family often plays question/answer games around the dinner table. One such game went like this~ “If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one food, what would it be?” Without hesitation my answer was Momotaro Tomatoes. I discovered these yummy tasting tomatoes at the California Irvine Farmer’s Market. They are a pink Japanese variety and have the perfect sugar to acid balance. They are like adult candy for me, just cut them up and eat. (Speaking of adult or kid tomato candy, Sweet 100s are another good candy tomato variety.) The last few years in my Georgia garden, I have planted Sweet 100s, Cherokee Purple and Brandywine tomatoes. I have had limited success with the Brandywine tomatoes, low yields and not very vigorous growth. I think they dislike the hot humid summer (me too).
Since we are in full tomato season, tomatoes have been on my mind a lot lately. This last week I have had a Tomato Fest in my kitchen. I started with Tomato Caprese, sliced tomatoes, sliced buffalo mozzarella, good extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with torn basil and a little coarse sea salt. This is a popular and simple salad, but when the ingredients are in season, it is simplicity + bliss= devoured rapidly in my house. I made this with my very own home grown Cherokee Purple tomatoes and freshly picked basil. Honestly, it does not get much better.
Unfortunately, I do not have farmers’ markets close to my house like I did in California, however, I do have a good handful of roadside farmers selling their garden produce. The other day I stopped at such a roadside farm stand, feeling very excited when I saw his bounty of fresh garden produce. I bought small Roma tomatoes and Juliet tomatoes (they look like super small Roma or large Cherry tomatoes). My next tomato dish was set, Spaghetti with Roasted Juliet Tomatoes and Zucchini. I halved the Juliet tomatoes, sliced some zucchini and peeled whole garlic cloves and put them on a prepared baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzled the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Into a 425 F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile I boiled some spaghetti. Drained the pasta and tossed with the roasted tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and added grated Parmesan cheese.
Finally, I turned my Roma tomatoes into a Roasted Tomato Soup. It was another episode of something being devoured.
Roasted Tomato Soup
makes 4 servings
16 Roma tomatoes medium/small, halved
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
or 3 larger shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
fresh ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 425 F
2. On a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place tomatoes cut side up, spread out onion slices and garlic cloves in a single layer.
3. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme leaves.
4. Bake for 25 minutes.
5. Move oven rack 5-6 inches from the top of your oven and turn oven to broil. Watching the tomatoes closely, broil for about 10 minutes. Do not burn, but roast the edges slightly. Garlic and onions may roast faster. If so take them out ahead…do not blacken garlic or it will taste bitter.
6. Place all the ingredients in to a heavy bottom pot and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Let cool
7. Puree in batches in a blender and return to a clean pot to gently warm.
Serve with baguette toasts topped with goat cheese. Garnish with fresh basil.