by Expat Chef
August is the best month for tomatoes, the peak of season. As this month winds down, so does the tomato crop. My advice, and I follow it wholeheartedly, is to enjoy them while I can.
I love the different flavors of heirlooms with just basil, balsamic and olive oil and some fresh mozzarella, but if you are going to prepare these beauties, here are a few of my favorite ways this season.
3 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1 small red onion diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 green pepper or mild green chile, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, cored, seeded and diced (2 for hot)
1/2 tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. lime juice
kosher salt to taste
Once everything but the garlic and cilantro has been chopped and measured and put in a bowl, take about 1/3 of the mixture and place in the workbowl of a food processor. Add the whole garlic cloves. Pulse until chopped fine, but not total puree. Add the mixture back to the bowl, add the cilantro and adjust the salt to taste. You can adjust the heat by adding an extra pepper (or using more mild green chile), or even using a hotter variety of pepper, right up to a habernero, if you can take the heat. I also like to use yellow, orange, green and red tomatoes for extra color and flavor instead of all red ones.
For roasted salsa:
Do not dice the tomatoes, onion or the peppers yet. Quarter all of these instead. Toss with a bit of olive oil, place on a cookie sheet and roast in a 450 degree oven until the vegetables start to brown and caramelize a bit. Let cool, then dice all and proceed.
Perfect Summer Tomato Soup
4 lbs. ripe, red tomatoes (peeled, cored, seeded, diced)
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz. parmesan for shaving on top
This recipe requires just a handful of ingredients, but a bit of time. You will need to peel the tomatoes. The easy way to do this is to cut a half-inch by half-inch "x" in the bottom of each tomato. Have a large pot of boiling water and a larger bowl of ice water ready. Drop the tomatoes in the boiling water (tongs are handy, no need to add burns to other disfigurements). Bring back to a boil by putting the lid on as this helps get the temp back up. Remove the tomatoes (tongs, please) and put each immediately into the ice water for at least one minute. The peel will pull away easily from the flesh.
At this point you will want to core, seed and dice the tomatoes. Coring removes the hard whitish center, which is important to do. Seeding is also important to get rid of the excess moisture and seeds. Left in the tomato, this "goo" will make the soup runny instead of thick and creamy. You want to just have the meat of the tomato. You can seed tomatoes by cutting in half, and scooping out the seeds and gel, and also giving it a gentle squeeze. Will splatter, could stain, be warned.
Seems like a lot of prep work, but it is well worth it. The only other chopping is a third of a cup of fresh basil.
So, the tomatoes are in the pot now. Turn on medium heat. When the tomatoes are gently simmering, add the cream. Bring back to simmer. Stir, salt and pepper to taste. You can stir in the basil, or just garnish on top. Serve with the shaved parmesan on top.
Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow squash, diced (can also use zucchini)
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Ancho Chile pepper
salt and pepper to taste
6 10-inch tortillas (I like the ones with no trans fats, made with olive oil)
1-1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (or Pepper Jack for those who like spicy)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the vegetables together and toss with spices and olive oil. Spread out on large baking sheet with 1/2-inch high edges. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. Turn the veggies every 10 minutes to roast evenly and prevent burning. You can do this part a day ahead even. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Place on tortilla in skillet. Place 1/4 cup cheese and 1/6 of the vegetables onto half of the tortilla. Fold the top over. Brown the quesadilla until just golden, then turn to brown other side. Remove from skillet and repeat with the other five tortillas. These are good alone, or served with light sour cream and cilantro. To make this a main course, just add shredded, cooked chicken. You can serve just the roasted vegetables without the cheese and tortilla. They make a great side dish as is.