it’s not too late for tomatoes!

It may be WAY late in the season for tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy them through the cold, winter months.  Many tomatoes are grown in hot houses, and while they may not be nearly as delicious as fresh-from-the vine tomatoes in the summer, they’re still excellent to cook and bake with.  When tomatoes aren’t in season, I tend to rely on the pints of cherry tomatoes for salads and canned tomatoes for everything else.  You can also buy Roma tomatoes and roast them yourself for better flavor!

-Tomatoes get their red color from the antioxidant lycopene. Tomatoes can come in other colors, including yellow, orange, green and even purpley-brown.

-Lycopene is found in higher concentrations in processed tomato products, such as canned tomatoes and sauces and ketchup.

-Tomatoes are a fruit because it, along with its seeds, is the berry of a flowering plant.  Other vegetables fall into this category, including eggplant, bell peppers and squash.

-Tomatoes are high in potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. A medium tomato only has 22 calories.

-Most tomatoes are harvested while green and allowed to ripen with artificial ethylene gas while being transported to the store, which turns their skins red but doesn’t develop flavor. Always try to get your tomatoes locally!

-When eaten with sources of healthy fat (like avocados or olive oil), the carotenoids in tomatoes are better absorbed in the body.

-Choose tomatoes that are bright red, heavy for their size and shiny. Store on the counter to preserve texture and flavor. Do not store in the refrigerator until cut.

-Maximize tomatoes’ flavor by chopping fresh tomatoes for pastas and sauces. In the winter months when fresh tomatoes aren’t available or as good, rely on good quality canned tomatoes to make sauces, or roast Roma tomatoes to concentrate their flavors.

-For a unique and healthy breakfast, cut the top off a tomato and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Crack an egg into the hollowed-out tomato and cook until the egg is set.  Add salt, pepper and torn basil or parmesan cheese for flavor.

tomatoes in winter: who knew?

I can probably count on one hand the number of tomatoes I buy in the months between November and June.  They just aren’t that good!  And when tomatoes aren’t good, they REALLY aren’t good.

However, I ran across this slow-roasted tomato recipe in November’s Cooking Light and became immediately intrigued.  I’d heard of roasting tomatoes before, and I’d roasted cherry tomatoes with green onions in the summertime (excellent, by the way), but never regular tomatoes.

I decided to half the recipe and pair it with meatloaf bolognese the other night, and Andrew was blown away by both!



You must make these immediately.  Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.  Less than five minutes of prep, seven (yes, 7) hours in a 200 degree oven and wha-lah!  Beautiful, sweet, juicy roasted tomatoes that are an excellent side dish, or an amazing tomato sauce after a few seconds in a blender.  In fact, that’s up next: (more) homemade pizza with pureed roasted tomatoes.

Happy Thursday!

a balsamic kind of night

I may have outdone myself tonight.  At least with what little resources I have available here in the hotel.

(Photos courtesy of Andrew)

I made Ina’s herb-roasted salmon from her How Easy is That? cookbook.  It’s basically salmon coated in chopped scallions, parsley and dill.  YUM.  It was incredibly fresh and light.  A very thin drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice allowed the herbs to stick, and it was roasted with a little white wine.  I LOVE things cooked with wine.  I love being able to smell and taste just a hint of it.

For once, I didn’t overcook the salmon.  I’ll be honest; I like my salmon on the ‘done’ side.  So does Andrew.  I probably could have cooked it longer, but I didn’t want to turn it into rubber.  There is a fine line between slightly done and WAY overdone.

I threw together some balsamic vinegar and olive oil-marinated tomatoes and onions.  Growing up, my mom would thickly slice tomatoes and Vidalia onions and bathe them in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Ah, the memories.  I don’t have any shallow dishes here, and all I had were red onions, so I went with what I had.

Until this afternoon, I’d been using the balsamic drizzling syrup my mom got me in Italy for all my balsamic needs.  While running errands on Main Street today, I popped into Tuscany On Main for a bottle of the good stuff.  It was so neat to be able to actually sample the different vinegars–you can definitely tell a difference between the various kinds.  Of the three regular balsamic vinegars (among COUNTLESS herb and fruit-infused vinegars and oils), I sprang for the ultra-premium “Cask 25” variety.  (At only $12.99 I would hardly consider it that much of a splurge, but I felt fancy getting the top-of-the-line!)  It’s been aged for 25 years in the barrel (obviously) and has distinct notes of wine, like port and madiera.  The Cask 10 was lighter and fruiter and I didn’t prefer it.  The Premium was more like what you’d find in the grocery store.  Both the Cask 10 and 25’s were visibly thicker and syrupy.  Needless to say, I had fun using it for dinner tonight!

I had about 5 ounces of orzo hanging around, so I found a recipe in my Foster’s Market cookbook for a dish with grilled veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and greens.  It was lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.  Because I love my husband, I kept the grilled portobello mushrooms and mozzarella on the side and only added them to my half.

Andrew really liked it!  I served it all with a glass of Leonard Oakes’ Blanc d’Orleans wine, which I found in Reed’s Liquors this afternoon.  I walked in and asked for a recommendation of a New York wine.  It’s a little drier than Andrew and I are used to, but I liked it very much.  The bottle says it’s “gooseberry, honeysuckle, grapefruit and melon. Slate and straw and subtle spice.  Crisp, complex and completely refreshing.”  I wanted something that would go with our salmon tonight, our chicken tomorrow and our quinoa Thursday, and I think I chose well.  I also got a glowing recommendation for a local Riesling that I’ll be picking up next time we need one.

We had just enough leftover (dinner, not the wine) for me to have lunch tomorrow–yay!

Tomorrow morning I’m blending a banana into my beet smoothie to sweeten it up and make it more “breakfast-y.”  It’s my pilates/yoga and kickboxing day, which means a big breakfast!