I know many of you have had tomatoes early as you had early gardens but August is the time when tomatoes are in plentiful supply. For me there is nothing like fresh tomatoes that are locally grown. There are so many ways that I enjoy them: right in the garden with the juice running down your hand and wrist, a tomato sandwich on toast, a stuffed tomato with chicken or tuna salad, fresh salsa and of course a tomato, bacon and lettuce sandwich, with more tomato than bacon.
I am not sure which food is the best food of summer but the tomato has to be one of the top five. The tomato is delicious by itself and then when it is combined with so many other foods it makes them delicious too! Today tomatoes are used throughout the world in countless ways, in appetizers, soups, salads, sauces, stews, and side dishes.
Some of the more typical ways you use fresh tomatoes are cut up in salads or stuffed with chicken, tuna, egg, or seafood salad. Sliced tomatoes on sandwiches makes them a challenge to eat, but they also make it is so good. Another great food for sliced tomato is on a burger right off the grill. Writing this has made me hungry!
The tomato also lends itself to many other countries for a wide variety of recipes. Italian cooks, famous for their tomato recipes, turn tomatoes into aromatic sauces for pasta, toppings for pizza, and luscious salads with anchovies, herbs, and olive oil. Mexicans mince tomatoes with onions, cilantro, and chills to make salsa, an everyday table condiment. Tomatoes are fundamental to cooking in the Mediterranean region where they are featured in such famous dishes as French Ratatouille, Moroccan tomato and green pepper salad, Spanish gazpacho, and Greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese.
Tomatoes are rarely used in Asian cooking. They are not part of the Japanese diet and were not introduced into China until the 1930s. In India tomatoes are used raw in chopped salad and are added to a variety of stews and vegetable dishes. They appear on the Swedish smorgasbord and, in the form of tomato paste, flavor a Norwegian butter spread on grilled mackerel.
Even unripe tomatoes have culinary uses. In the American South, and in the upper Midwestern and plains states, green tomatoes are sliced, dipped in flour or cornmeal, and fried or simmered with onions and spices to make green tomato relish.
Choose fresh tomatoes by their color and aroma. Vine ripened tomatoes have good color and a noticeable fragrance. They should be neither overly soft nor overly firm. Avoid any with blemishes, spots, or splits.
Firm, under ripe tomatoes can be stored in a warm, sunny spot for a few days; they will soften and improve in flavor. Ripe tomatoes can be left at room temperature for a day but should be refrigerated for longer storage; once ripe, use tomatoes within a few days. Any leftover tomato products or sauces should be stored in airtight nonmetal containers. The best time to enjoy tomatoes is now when they are locally grown and vine ripened.
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