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Wednesday Food: Tomato Season Begins

caprese insalataAnd so it has arrived!  As worthy a celebration as any holiday or birthday is the moment in summer when the grocery shelves are emblazoned with the ruby red of tomato season.  For many this moment is long passed, but a summer 19% cooler than usual has left my city by the lake without the crown jewel of summer produce.  Even container plants and hanging tomatoes are at last seeing their little green marbles change to yellow and then crimson.

The innumerable recipes I have put on hold for lack of sweet tasting, aromatic vine tomatoes are finally within reach.  My favorite, insalata caprese, is joined by gazpacho and ratatouille, fresh salsa and marinara, bruschetta and thick slices for juicy BLTs.  I spent the weekend immersed in tomato.

Last Thursday The Sister came into town, joined by our lovely aunt for an annual reunion.  Food lovers all, we kicked off the weekend with the above stated caprese salad.  A classic dish from the Campania coast, this simple salad is the ideal presentation for a tomato at the peak of its life.  Sliced or in wedges, the tomatoes are layered with whole basil leaves and chunks of fresh milk mozzarella, then anointed with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.  The timing could not have been better, as my Carbon tomato plant, a black heirloom variety, had produced exactly one ripe 13 oz tomato (most of the  others have been plagued by the evil blossom end rot).

Moments after devouring this dish we left for a cooking class at a shop in my neighborhood.  The theme was appropriately devoted to summer dishes, and included a menu of:

  • roasted tomatillo and jalapeno guacamole
  • chilled corn soup with avocado crab salad
  • herb encrusted steak with parmesan polenta
  • peach pudding cake

The corn soup was a highlight but the grilled polenta was my biggest learning hurdle.  I’ll share recipes in following posts after reworking them a bit in my kitchen.  Saturday we drove to Evanston for Julie & Julia, which is accurately reviewed by AV club.  On the drive back we stopped for supplies and prepared to grill in the swampy 95 degree heat.  The barbeque chicken, beer brats, vegetable skewers, and roasted garlic went perfectly with an enormous helping of pan fried green beans and ice cold Scrimshaw.  This we feasted on while watching first the Cubs forget how to play baseball, and then Julia Child create the most disastrous apple tarte tatin imaginable.  The woman refined the art of screwing up on live broadcast, but not once does she apologize.

The end of tomato season tribute weekend, was realized in a “ratatouille lasagna.”  Standing in an already hot kitchen The Sister and I roasted eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomato, and garlic, and at the same time kneaded out dough for noodles.  The heat and humidity made the dough impossible to work with but we got through it, alternated fresh pasta with roasted vegetables, fontina, and parmesan, and still managed to eat before 9:30.  Success.



August 13, 2009 - Posted by | Wednesday Food

1 Comment

  1. Oh wow- you must post a recipe for that ratatouille lasagne!

    Comment by Rebekah | August 14, 2009

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