Cooking Cove: Harvest time for tomatoes

Cooking Cove: Harvest time for tomatoes

Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

My cooking is largely governed by the seasons. Of course, appetite and occasion figure into it, but it’s mostly all about what’s fresh and abundant. Hence, this column about tomatoes. If you’re like me, you’re wondering what you were thinking when you planted all those cute little tomato plants in May. Or your neighbor is leaving tomatoes on your doorstep daily. Or you just came back from the farm stand and couldn’t resist that basket of tomatoes when you went  just to pick up a few ears of corn. Personally, I can’t think of a better thing to have too much of.

So tonight it’s going to be a tomato and chick pea salad; for tomorrow I’m thinking maybe some pasta with blistered cherry tomatoes and goat cheese; and for Sunday brunch I’m going to cook up a pan of what my friend Elena calls “eggs from Hell”which are actually eggs cooked atop a smooth but spicy tomato sauce. All this having been said, there’s nothing quite so fine as a just-picked, sun-warmed tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato and Chick Pea Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

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INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

6 cups loosely packed chopped Romaine lettuce

2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced

1 1/4 pounds cherry tomatoes, quartered or halved, depending on size

One 14-ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large serving bowl, whisk together the oil, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, vinegar and mustard. Just before serving add the lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and chick peas; toss well. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita bread and feta cheese.

Penne with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 quarts cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups torn basil leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound penne

Basil sprigs for garnish

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large pot or skillet heat half the oil; add garlic and cook over low heat until it is soft and releases its aroma, about one minute.  Raise heat to medium and add tomatoes, pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to coat all the tomatoes and mashing some with the back of a wooden spoon, until they start to burst, about 4 or 5 minutes. Continue to cook until a thick sauce starts to form and about half the tomatoes remain intact, about 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is al dente drain and transfer to pot with tomatoes; stirring constantly over medium heat. Transfer to serving bowl and drizzle with remaining oil. Garnish with basil sprigs and serve hot or warm with an arugula and mesclun salad.

Elena’s Eggs from Hell

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

6 to 8 Roma tomatoes, pureed but still chunky

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

4 to 6 large eggs

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat warm the oil, then add the garlic and cook until it releases its aroma and is soft, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley and cook over medium heat until the excess liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. While it is hot carefully break the eggs over the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and cook until whites are no longer runny and yolks are still soft. Serve with toasted Italian bread.

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