Tags Posts tagged with "Tomatoes"


Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto

By Heidi Sutton

I was telling my friend John the other day how my garden has gone rogue and is now spilling over the raised beds onto the lawn. Tomatoes, peppers, string beans and basil — all out of control and growing like weeds. I guess that could be a good thing too. Now there’s plenty to share with neighbors. Here are two delicious recipes to try if you have a bumper crop of tomatoes and basil.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


1/2 cup olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound thin-cut chicken cutlets

1/4 cup basil pesto, divided

1 large tomato

8 slices crusty sourdough bread

4 ounces Brie, thinly sliced

1 cup packed baby arugula


Heat grill to high. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; pour into plastic zipper bag. Add chicken, seal and marinate at least 30 minutes. Grill chicken 2-3 minutes, turn and grill another 2-3 minutes, or until chicken registers internal temperature of 160 F. Remove and reserve. 

Spread each piece of bread with 1/2 tablespoon pesto. Slice tomato into eight slices. Place chicken on four bread slices. Top with Brie slices, arugula and two tomato slices. Top with remaining bread slices, pesto side toward tomato. Brush outside of each sandwich with about 1/2 tablespoon of remaining olive oil. 

Place on grill, reduce heat to medium and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until bread is nicely toasted and cheese is melted. Remove from heat, cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


8 ounces regular or whole-wheat rotini or rotelle pasta, cooked according to directions

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, divided

salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, minced and divided

1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped

10 to 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 slice whole-wheat or multigrain bread


In bowl, cover and chill pasta. In large mixing bowl, combine vinegar, 2 tablespoons basil, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons oil and half of minced garlic. Whisk to combine well. Add pasta, bell pepper and tomatoes, and toss gently until well coated.

In food processor or blender, pulse bread to produce coarse crumbs. In medium skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Stir in breadcrumbs and garlic. Saute 1 1/2-2 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Top pasta with garlic crumbs and remaining basil before serving.

Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs

By Heidi Sutton

When your garden gives you a bounty of tomatoes, try this recipe for Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs on the grill or whip up this new summer tomato salad from Mirabelle Restaurant in Stony Brook topped with burrata, an artisan Italian cheese made of mozzarella and cream.

Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs

Recipe courtesy of Albertsons

Ribeye Steak, Grape Tomato and Mushroom Kebabs


2 cloves garlic

1/2 small bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1/4  extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4pound ribeye steak

1/2 pint grape tomatoes

1/4 pound white mushrooms

green pepper, sliced 

1/2 medium red onion

6 skewers


Peel and mince garlic. Wash and dry parsley. Shave leaves off stems; discard stems and mince leaves. 

In large bowl, whisk minced garlic, half the minced parsley (reserve remainder for garnish), olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Cut steak into cubes; transfer to marinade bowl and toss to coat. Wash tomatoes, mushrooms and green pepper. Halve mushrooms. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and green pepper to marinade. Peel onion and cut into chunks; add to marinade. Toss beef and vegetables until well coated. Heat grill pan, outdoor grill or skillet to medium-high heat. Thread steak and vegetables onto six skewers. 

Cook kebabs in batches until steak is browned and vegetables are tender, 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining kebabs. Sprinkle with remaining minced parsley and serve.

Burrata & Heirloom Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy of Mirabelle Restaurant

Burrata & Heirloom Tomato Salad

YIELD: Makes 1 serving 


1 large heirloom tomato

1/2 cup seedless cucumber

1/2 cup red onion

fresh basil

Salt to taste

1/4 cup white balsamic vinaigrette

One 2.5 ounce round fresh burrata cheese

olive oil

black pepper


Slice tomato into medium sized half-moons. De-seed cucumber, cut into crescent moons. Julianne red onion. Pick 5 basil leaves from stem, leave whole. Combine above ingredients in a large bowl, season with salt and drizzle with white balsamic vinaigrette. Toss to combine ingredients. Plate coated veggie mixture in a salad bowl. Top with burrata and garnish with olive oil drizzle and black pepper.

Tomato Quiche

By Barbara Beltrami

That’s right. At this time of year it’s all about tomatoes. So exalted are they that everybody is talking about them, writing about them, slicing and dicing them, dressing them, cooking them and eating them in all sorts of dishes. From  sauces to salads to summer soups and savory snacks, tomatoes rule! I know I write about them every year at this time, but I have a feeling that new ways to prepare them are not unwelcome.

Tomato Quiche

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4” slices

One 9” pie crust

4 large eggs

1 cup milk or half and half

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

5 ounces shredded Emmentaler cheese

3/4 cup diced and sautéed prosciutto

1/2 cup sliced scallions


Place rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until brown at edges, about 30 minutes. Set aside; leave oven on. On a lightly floured work surface roll out pie crust and place in an 8-9” deep-dish pie or quiche pan; press dough to cover bottom and sides of pan and crimp as needed. Place in freezer until crust is cold and filling is ready.

For filling, in a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, red onion, salt and pepper, half the cheese and half a cup of the prosciutto; pour into cold crust and bake until partially set, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and top evenly with tomato slices, remaining cheese and prosciutto. Bake until top and crust are golden and filling is set, about 20 minutes or when a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Place on wire rack and let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve warm with a green salad.

Linguine with Scallops in a Creamy Cherry Tomato Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2 to 3 servings


8 ounces linguine, cooked according to package directions

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup minced shallots

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound sea scallops, halved, rinsed and patted dry

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter; add cherry tomatoes and stirring constantly, cook until they start to release their juices and burst, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add minced shallot and garlic and stirring constantly, cook until fragrant, about one and a half minutes; add scallops, stir and cook until they are just opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper and add cream, stirring frequently, until it thickens a little, about one to two minutes. Stir in tarragon and cooked pasta and serve immediately with green beans vinaigrette.

Heirloom Tomato, Corn and Herb Salad

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


6-8 ripe heirloom tomatoes, assorted varieties

2 ears corn, kernels removed and chopped

4-6 scallions, sliced thin

3/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1/3 cup basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup garlic chives, snipped


Cut the tomatoes into thin wedges, place in large bowl and add corn and scallions. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper; add to tomatoes and scallions, then add herbs; toss to coat evenly. Serve at room temperature with rustic bread.

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

Pixabay photo


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


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


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


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


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


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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The November tomato flowers and tomatoes in the author's garden — notice fallen leaves in the background. Photo Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Late autumn is a great time to access your gardening successes and failures. It’s well into November as I work on this column. My tomato plants have been very weird this year. I’ve grown tomatoes for decades. I’ve never had trouble with tomatoes setting fruit, always having a bountiful crop (except when the tomato blight struck). That is, until this year when I had few blossoms and no fruit.

This was a new experience for me. So, that got me started researching why the fruit would not set. All the information I’ve been able to find gave me some hints, but, none really explained why, now, well into autumn, the plants are setting fruit. Yes, I’ve got at least a half dozen green tomatoes and many more blossoms. And I’ve noticed two other gardeners whose plants were covered in green tomatoes in late October.

So, first some basic information on tomato plants in general. The tomato, which is a member of the nightshade family, was developed in Mesoamerica. Having been developed in such a mild climate, it needs warm weather to grow successfully. While many other plants can be put out in early to midspring, experts recommend not putting your tomato plants out until Mother’s Day (mid-May), although my father always said Memorial Day (the end of May), because they are so tender.

Tomato plants do not need a second plant to provide pollen like, let’s say, a holly bush does. There you need at least one male plant in the area usually for up to four or five female plants. Nor do they have different male and female flowers on the same plant, the way squash does. Look carefully at squash and you’ll notice that the early flowers do not set fruit since they’re the male ones. Then the female flowers open and soon they are the ones to produce fruit.

The tomato flowers contain both the male and female organs in the one flower. Usually a gentle breeze or insects causes the pollen to fall so the flower can pollinate itself. People who grow tomato plants in the house or in a greenhouse must help their plants along, gently shaking the plant or providing a gentle breeze to release the pollen.

Now back to the tomatoes outside. So, why no fruit?

◆ First of all, always keep your plants healthy by providing adequate fertilizer and water. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and healthy plants are more likely to bear fruit.

◆ When the day temperature goes above 85 to 90 degrees, the pollen is no longer viable. Optimal day temperatures for setting fruit is 70 to 85 degrees.

◆ To set fruit, night temperature should be above 55 but below 75 degrees. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with the adequate temperature range, the plants will not set fruit.

◆ In very humid regions, the pollen may become very sticky. It therefore won’t fall through the flower.

◆ Tomato plants need six to eight hours of full sun. Plant in an area with too much shade and you don’t get fruit.

◆ Tomatoes also need lots of water. If you’ve ever experienced blossom end rot, cracks in the bottom of the fruit, it’s due to the soil drying out. So, while you don’t want to plant the tomatoes in a marshy area, you do want to make sure that they have a consistently moist soil.

◆ Fungal diseases, such as the tomato blight of recent years, can also be a problem.

◆ Determinate plants set fruit early, while indeterminates need to be a bigger plant, so set fruit later in the season. Determinate plants are more compact. They are varieties that reach a certain size and no bigger, such as ‘Bush Early Girl,’ ‘Better Bush,’ ‘Elfin’ and ‘Grand Cherry.’ Indeterminate plants like ‘Big Beef’ and ‘New Girl’ keep growing like a vine. If conditions aren’t right later in the season, you won’t get fruit from indeterminates.

◆ Fertilizer with too high a nitrogen content leads to lush (lots of greenery) plants but not necessarily lots of fruit. Use a more balanced fertilizer, such as one whose label reads 10-10-10.

So, why didn’t my plants set fruit this summer? My guess is that they weren’t getting enough sun and I moved them to a more sheltered area, one without a breeze or insects to release the pollen. Next growing season the plants go back to where I grew them in past years. As to why they’re setting fruit now, my best guess is that we’ve had a very mild autumn, and therefore Mother Nature has provided the right day and night temperatures for fruit to set.

A final note — if you are growing plants from seed, you need to start them six to eight weeks before you plan to put them out. Start late March or early April and in a sunny window. If the plants become very leggy, the stem can be planted deep into the soil outside as roots will develop anywhere along the stem. Putting them outside in a cold frame first helps to harden off the tender plants, but watch the weather. If a cold spell is predicted in early to mid-May, hold off bringing them outside until the weather is warmer. To maximize tomato yield, select early, midseason and late tomato plants.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to [email protected]. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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While most pumpkins are fairly large, tiny varieties, such as the white and orange ones above, make cute decorations for the dinner table. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

It will soon be time to plant your vegetable garden. Do you sometimes feel that you plant the “same old, same old?” The same tomatoes? The same green beans? If so, why not try some really unique veggies along with the traditional ones? Some say they’re ugly while others call them cute. They’re the veggies that differ from the norm. Here’s a sampling, but you can find lots more in all the seed catalogues that are arriving.

When you think of cauliflower, you usually think of a snowy white head of florets surrounded by green leaves. But, have you considered Graffiti Hybrid, which has purple florets, or Cheddar Hybrid, which is the color of cheddar cheese and a good source of vitamin A. A really unique looking cauliflower is Veronica Romanesco Hybrid, which has a green head, and a sweet nutty flavor that is milder than most cauliflowers. The florets are spiraled and resemble a bunch of hens and chicks. Yes, I really want to try this one myself.

Most radishes have a red skin and a white interior. This fast-growing crop likes cool weather, so plant early for a spring crop or late in summer for a fall crop. But a really unique radish, Watermelon, reverses the colors. It has a white and green skin and pinkish-red interior. It grows bigger than most — two to four inches. The flavor is said to be mild with a bit of sweetness.

Nothing says autumn like pumpkins, whether for pies or jack-o’-lanterns. But if you want to grow some eye-catchers, consider any one of a number of bumpy pumpkins. There’s Red Warty Thing, Goosebumps Hybrid, Galeux d’Eysines and Knucklehead Hybrid. Yes, they’re edible, but these eerie pumpkins are ideal to be turned into Halloween jack-o’-lanterns, warty faces and all. Tiny, smooth-skinned pumpkins include Jack Be Little, which is so small it fits in the palm of your hand. If you’re planning on entering a contest for the biggest, try Prizewinner Hybrid, which has been known to reach up to 400 pounds.

Say tomato and most people will think of the round, orangy-red fruit that goes perfectly with bacon and lettuce to form a BLT sandwich. But, tomatoes, like so many other fruits, come in different colors such as yellow — Yellow Pear and Lemon Boy Hybrid — or blue — Indigo Blue Beauty and Indigo Apple. Tomato sizes range from tiny to enormous. Ugly Ripes are wrinkled but delicious.

Yes, there are many other veggies and fruits that have varieties that differ from the norm. There’s bicolored corn and Golden Detroit, a pale orange beet. Read your gardening catalogues and try at least one or two unique veggies this year.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.