Tags Posts tagged with "tomato"


Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

By Barbara Beltrami

Moms love salads. They order them in restaurants and for take out and carry them to work in plastic containers. They probably try to get you to eat them. So why not make Mom a special salad or two or three for her special day? It’s a project that accommodates lots of chefs and sous chefs and is fun to prepare and assemble. Here are some out of the ordinary salads that are sure to bring a smile to Mom’s face and lots of hugs to the kitchen crew.

Tomato, Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/4 cup orange juice

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon simple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes

1/8 seedless watermelon, cut into 1” cubes

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes

3/4 pound cubed feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill


In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, syrup, oil, salt and pepper till thoroughly emulsified. In a large salad bowl combine tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, feta and dill; when ready to serve toss with dressing and serve with toasted pita bread.

Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced red onion

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

7 cups baby spinach, washed 

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 large orange, peeled, cut into bite-size cubes

1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds


In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, onion, salt and pepper. In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach, strawberries and orange. When ready to serve toss with dressing and top with almonds. Serve with sliced grilled boneless chicken breast, lamb chops or steak and baked potato.

Southwestern Chopped Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 teaspoon chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, chopped

One 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 medium-large tomato, chopped

1/2 cup peeled chopped jicama

1 cup fresh, frozen or drained canned corn kernels

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 avocado


In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice and zest, oil, honey, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, salt and pepper; let sit and before using, remove and discard garlic. In large salad bowl toss the lettuce, beans, tomato, jicama, corn, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Immediately before serving, peel avocado and dice, add to salad and immediately toss with dressing. Serve with tacos, nachos, hamburgers, pizza, steak or anything grilled.

Asparagus, Pea, Radish and Bibb Lettuce Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 pound snap peas, cut into 1” slices

1 bunch radishes, washed, trimmed, sliced

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives


In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper. Steam asparagus until barely al dente, about 3 to 4 minutes; immerse in cold water to stop cooking. When cooled, place in large salad bowl and toss with with lettuce, peas and radishes. When ready to serve toss with dressing, sprinkle with chives and serve with meat, fish or poultry. 

Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

I think if my husband and I had a family crest it would be the tomato! They are as necessary a staple as flour, sugar, or salt; as indispensable as onions, carrots or celery for the foundation of so many recipes and menus.

In the winter we have to rely on canned San Marzano tomatoes and fresh camparis, but come May we stick a variety of plants in patio pots and lovingly fertilize, water and stake them. By August we are happily picking a few a day but they’re not nearly enough to satisfy our tomato appetites nor do many even make it to the table because we eat them while they’re still warm from the sun. So we supplement our modest little crop with field tomatoes from the farm stand.

Although we sometimes chop them into a fresh tomato sauce for pasta or sauté them with other summer vegetables, most often we just slice them, top them with fresh basil or parsley or scallions, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle them with olive oil and enjoy their exquisite flavor. Or sometimes, we take just one of our nice ripe tomatoes, cut it in half and rub it on toasted slices of rustic bread with a little shot of extra virgin olive oil for good measure.

Cherry Tomato Tart

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


One 9-inch pastry crust

3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, bruised and chopped

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

1/2 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line bottom and sides of tart pan with pastry crust; cut to make even with top edge; gently pat a piece of foil on top of crust and spread pie weights over it. Meanwhile in a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, thyme, basil, and salt and pepper and garlic. Spread the mixture with the tomatoes, cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until tomatoes blister and dry up a little, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, set tomatoes on paper towels and blot to remove excess liquid. Bake pie shell in preheated oven until set, about 30 to 35 minutes; remove pie weights and foil and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until golden. In small bowl, mix the sour cream and mustard, then spread on pie crust; sprinkle with cheese. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, in two layers; add salt and pepper between layers. Bake until tomatoes just start to brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a green salad.

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound penne or similar size pasta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

6 to 8 fresh Roma tomatoes diced

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in medium-large skillet warm oil over medium heat; add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic releases its aroma, about 30 seconds; add tomatoes, stirring frequently, and cook until barely softened, about one minute. In large bowl toss tomatoes with basil, hot pasta and salt. Serve hot or let cool to room temperature and serve with an arugula salad.

Greek Tomato Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


3 to 4 pounds ripe beefsteak tomatoes

1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings

1 green bell pepper, peeled, seeded, julienned

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 ounces feta cheese, broken into chunks

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste


Wash, core and slice tomatoes 1/4” thick and arrange on a platter. Scatter onion, pepper and cucumber over tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper; let sit 15 minutes; scatter feta cheese and dill and douse with olive oil.  Serve at room temperature with toasted pita and hummus.

Most market tomatoes are recent varieties created in university and commercial farms since 1940. Stock photo

By Elof Axel Carlson

The tomato is botanically a fruit or more specifically a berry. We think of it as a vegetable because of its use in pasta sauces, soups and stews. The Supreme Court in 1893 ruled that for taxing and tariff purposes, it is a vegetable because of its usage in cooking.

The tomato belongs to the species Solanum lycopersicum. Thus, it belongs to a family of some 3,000 species worldwide. But tomatoes arose and were cultivated in the Andes and made their way to Mexico where they were domesticated. From there they were imported to Europe in the 15th century.

Because they are classified as members of the Solonaceae family, which includes the deadly nightshade, they were sometimes regarded as poisonous. But the domesticated tomato varieties began appearing in Spain, Italy and England and soon spread as far as China, which is now the world’s largest consumer and producer of tomatoes.

The tomato gets its name from the Aztec word “tomatl.” Until 1940 the domesticated tomatoes throughout the world came from the Mexican varieties the Spanish brought back in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

The tomato plant cell has a total of 24 chromosomes, and its pollen or ovules have a chromosome number of 12. Their genome was not worked out until 2009, and a comparative study of 360 varieties and species of tomatoes was published in 2014. The pre-1940 tomato varieties for food had very few of the mutant gene varieties found in the wild species in South America (less than 10 percent).

Thus, most market tomatoes are recent varieties created in university and commercial farms since 1940.

The farmers buy hybrid seed, and tomato seed companies make sure that their seeds are hybrid to keep farmers from planting crops from the tomatoes that are harvested. This was a policy first started by agribusiness for hybrid corn beginning in 1908.

The genomic analysis of tomatoes and their related species give an evolutionary history of tobacco, then peppers, then eggplants, then potatoes and finally tomatoes as the sequence of species emergence. The molecular insights into plant genomes, by sequencing their genes, have led to a controversial field of genetically modified foods.

One of the first was short lived. I remember buying “Flavr Savr” tomatoes in a supermarket in Setauket. The manufacturer had inserted a gene for delayed ripening and thus longer shelf life in stores. I could not tell any difference in taste or texture from those manufactured by inserting genes from other varieties of tomato plants.

Just as people in the 1500s feared tomatoes when first introduced into Europe as likely to be poisonous (they weren’t), the fear of genetically modified foods led to their quick demise in the market. Today it is almost impossible to buy foods (grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, fowl, or livestock) that are guaranteed to be free of genetic modification.

Elof Axel Carlson is a distinguished teaching professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University.