I suppose there are jobs where tomato growing prowess is prized. I’m not sure what they are. Perhaps in a greenhouse or at a restaurant with a good farm to table chef or as a farm worker. Unfortunately, I don’t have this skill or at least I haven’t yet developed it. So, it’s a good thing that it isn’t a job requirement where I work. In fact, in all my years of hiring, I’ve never asked about one’s ability to grow tomatoes. Despite this void in my work life, I was completely delighted when someone in our office asked me this question:
“Would you like some homegrown tomatoes?”Last Friday I was gifted with a lovely bag of bright scarlet jewels. They were so ripe and ready that at least one couldn’t make it past my lips on its way to a recipe. The second gift was that of a cool weather weekend which now, only 7 days later seems a distant memory. But cool tempatures allow us to fire up the oven which isn’t possible when we’re topping 105 degrees fahrenheit. And it allowed me to test out one of David Lebovitz’s fabulous tomato recipes.
First the low down on tomatoes. They are part of the nightshade family which also includes eggplant and chili peppers. Food history tells us that they are a gift from Mexico originally grown by the Aztecs and then transferred the world over by the Spaniards. They are considered a fruit which you’ll quickly concur with once we get to the cooking and like many fruits are dense with vitamins and low in calories. Of particular intensity are vitamins A and C and a phytonutrient unique to tomatoes called lycopene. Red tomato varieties are especially concentrated in this antioxidant and it is said to intensify when cooked. Studies have shown that lycopene may assist in numerous health benefits from skin cancer protection to reduced osteoporosis risk in post menopausal women.
It’s a good thing that my son aren’t likely to face post menopausal osteoporosis risk because two of the three have a terrible time warming up to tomatoes. And unfortunately, the youngest who does enjoy them, did not jump at the opportunity of this recipe.
This is incredibly simple and so worthwhile that I can’t believe that I haven’t been doing it for years. Roast the tomatoes. I sliced them in half, covered them with a handful of chopped garden herbs including rosemary, thyme, basil and parsley. I also slivered a few garlic cloves and mixed them in. Drizzled with 2 Tbs olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, place them in a 325 degree oven for a couple of hours. Because I was firing up the oven, I threw in other vegetables in on separate racks.
I left them in my oven for a bit too long but truly it doesn’t take away from the amazing fragrance or taste.
The possibilities are endless. This morning, I slathered these on a savory waffle and the same can be done on crusty bread with a sprinkling of feta. Tossed in pasta, arranged on a sandwich or scrambled in eggs, these flavorful gems easily find purpose in the kitchen. Now thank God for the persons with the skills to grow them.
To those of you in the UK, Happy Jubilee.