Just another meatless Monday…..
If you asked my mother, she’ll tell you I don’t like tomatoes.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I LOVE tomatoes, and it is out of love of tomatoes that I pick them out salads all winter long.
I love tomatoes fresh from the garden, which here in Plymouth is possibly July, definitely August and into early September.
I buy tomatoes at the Plymouth Farmers Market and sometimes from roadside stands – and there do seem to be fewer of them with each passing year – and I accept them – greedily- fresh from the gardens of my friends and family.
Random passing strangers with bulging bags of fresh produce are never turned away, either.
It wasn’t until I moved out and lived on my own that I realized I didn’t have to eat pink cottony golf balls that are sold under the name of tomato in winter time – nicely packaged in little plastic crates – at all.
I needed one tomato to make Flora’s Lentils and Macaroni, so I did what I always do in the winter in the grocery store – I bee lined it straight for the mark down produce rack.
My winter shopping often starts here.
I started collected cauliflower recipes because it was so often found here, and often for under a dollar.
Good Eats at a Great Price!
And often things are repackaged or trimmed in such a way that for the single or single plus one, a much more reasonable haul.
So I found a package of tomatoes, one of which went into the lentils…what to do with the rest?
And FAST – even at LOW LOW prices I don’t want to pay cash money for compost.
One way to improve and generally pump up the flavor of tomatoes is to heat them up. Think hot summer sun and fresh off the vine……
These tomatoes are a long way from their vine, and the sun is not heating up much here (or if it is, the snowfall is masking it it). That leaves cooking them.
But First – a few words about
Years ago,on some cooking show (but it was in color so after 1977) where Jacques was trimming various vegetables, cutting and chatting and moving the trimmed bits into a scrap bowl….and then he caught sight of these so-called scraps out of the corner of his eye, and paused, speechless. With the knife still in one hand, with the other he pulled (and for the life of me I can NOT remember what) part of the discard OUT of the scrap bowl . He peered below the counter. He put down the knife, pulled out a second bowl, placed the now NOT garbage vegetative bits in second bowl and said either “for soup” or “for something else” and continued with the regular show.
This whole maneuver probably took under 10 seconds.
It also summed what I dislike most about cooking shows and food magazines –
In the quest for the best,
We toss aside far too much of the very good and the perfectly fine.
There’s a world of good eating, and often very, very good eating, in the bits that aren’t best. Cooking /seasoning/mixing things up together can make good things better.
And this is why I’m a major Jacques Pepin fan. He saved the good. Even when it wasn’t part of the script. Bravo, Jacques!
And now for
Pappa al pomodoro
(One Hot Tomato Bread Soup)
1 large out of season tomato
1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 oz day old, slightly stale crusty bread*
1 oz fresh basil or fresh rocket, coarsely chopped **
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
1 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese***
Core and peel the tomato, then roughly chop, saving the drippings.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stirringly cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.
Add tomato and juice and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tomato starts to soften and break down.
Add the bread to the tomato. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the bread soaks up the sauce.
Stir in the leafy greens, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes more. Scrape into a warm bowl and sprinkle with more olive oil and grated cheese.
adapted from Pappa al pomodoroThe Boston Globe, August 20, 2008. Jonathan Levitt.
* I’m using one of Jenny’s Bread Cheese Rolls, hence the weight specific. Otherwise part of a stale loaf – pull it apart and leave it out for a while to hurry the staling (for the truly impatient a minute or two in the oven will dry it out)
** I almost never have fresh basil in the house in the winter (too cold grow citrus is also too cold to keep basil; I freeze it, which turns it black, which is fine for sauce because you can fish it out before serving, but this needs a little more substance). Rocket is another name for arugula and you need some zingy-zangy greenage to add here.
*** I actually prefer Romano, but PLEASE -nothing fr0m the green shaker can!