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Recipes by Zola / Recipes

Tomato Leek Casserole

Red, Ripe and Juicy

My favorite kind of tomato. That’s an easy one. Ripe.

I know. Sarcasm. But I can’t help it. I think I have been singled out in this life to be given the unripe slices of tomato at every restaurant. Sometimes I even get the end piece with the hole in it where they cut out the edge of the stem. I can’t believe it. Even when tomatoes are in season this happens to me. It feels like only me. I feel picked on. When I am on ZReduction I order up a plain burger with just lettuce, tomato and onion. I don’t even order the bun so having a ripe slice of tomato is a major feature in my entrée selection. At least the cook in back can acknowledge my simple meal request and give me a ripe slice of tomato.

Okay I’m over it. Onto other ripe and juicy tomato stories.

I don’t profess to be a tomato expert. When I buy tomatoes I am usually looking for large, ripe, beefsteak tomatoes, so I can make those thick, juicy slices. That usually means I am buying a hothouse variety of tomato for that purpose.

When I want to roast tomatoes I usually select roma tomatoes. Those are the egg-shaped, Italian ones. When you cut those in half and drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast them at high heat they come out tasting like candied tomatoes. Really yummy. I roast them until their edges are browning so they are caramelized. That’s the best.

Heirloom tomatoes are popular. Those are the ones grown from historic cultivars. They are popular with gourmet chefs and foodies. I like to buy organic heirloom tomatoes at farmers markets. They come in lots of colors and are often misshapen or odd shapes. More wrinkly-looking than a modern tomato. That doesn’t make them taste ugly. They actually have a sweeter, much desired flavor. I might use heirloom tomatoes in a tomato tart or sometimes I layer fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil with slices of heirloom tomatoes. Drizzle on some balsamic vinegar reduction and you have a fresh gourmet treat.

Green tomatoes are fun. I love the southern dish called Fried Green Tomatoes. I don’t eat it often but it’s a fun treat and a great way to use something not ripe yet.

One time I bought a new kind of tomato that has a chocolate brown flesh. It really tastes like a regular tomato but your sense of color can really color how something tastes in your mouth. It can fool you. My mother-in-law was not a fan of a brown tomato.

So there you have it. Some fun tomato tidbits.

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