As far back as I can remember, my family always had juicy and delicious tomatoes fresh-from-the-garden throughout the summer. I might go as far as to anoint my father as the “king of tomatoes.” There was always such a bountiful harvest, and my mother tired of canning and/or freezing them and coming up with unique recipe ideas. The neighbors were always delighted when Dad put baskets overflowing with tomatoes in the front yard with a sign that read, “Help Yourself.”
Needless to say, I love tomatoes and all things tomato-related, and given that garden-fresh tomatoes are now plentiful, I am thrilled. It was not until adulthood that I learned tomatoes are rich in naturally-occurring glutamate, which is the primary reason for the distinct savory umami flavor of this vegetable. (Although scientifically speaking, tomatoes have characteristics of fruit; they were classified long ago as a vegetable for various reasons as far as cooking is concerned!)
As can be seen in this chart, the levels of glutamate found in tomatoes are quite high, so it is no wonder that tomato products impart such incredible umami flavor to so many dishes.
I cannot begin to guess how many recipes could be found on the Internet that use fresh tomatoes. A billion or more? (Just kidding, but the number HAS to be high!) Regardless, I shall not lie – one of my favorite ways to eat garden fresh tomatoes is in the raw…. Sliced with some freshly-ground black pepper (thanks Dad!) or topped with a sprinkle of sugar.
So get ‘em while they’re fresh and tasty! There is no better time to experiment with recipes that call for fresh tomatoes that you and your family are sure to love.
To get you started, here are three delicious tomato recipes to try if you’re looking for easy-to-make meals on a warm summer day!
Tomato, Parmesan and Bread Salad (Panzanella Salad)
This umami-rich seasonal salad is a tasty favorite on a hot summer or fall day when cooking is not an option. The richness of the flavors of the ripe tomatoes, shaved parmesan and basil make for a unique, umami-filled flavor combination.
Gazpacho is a traditional zingy tomato soup from Spain that showcases the refreshing tastes of its fresh ingredients. This delicious cold soup is a perfect light appetizer to accompany summer cuisine. Serve chilled, and don’t forget French baguettes for dipping!
Tomato & “Dirt” Salad – Fresh Tomatoes with Crispy Mushroom/Rye Crumbs
For the “dirt” (crumbs):
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil more if needed
- 3 large brown mushrooms washed/minced fine
- 3 slices dark rye bread finely crumbed in food processor
- 1 Tbsp. heaping ground almonds
- Salt or MSG to taste
For the salad:
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese or ricotta cheese
- Sliced fresh tomatoes enough for 4 salads
- Wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh chopped basil leaves
- Seasoning to taste salt, pepper, MSG
Sauté the finely minced mushrooms in a skillet with some olive oil until they become earthy tasting/looking.
Add the rye bread crumbs and ground almonds to the mushrooms in the skillet, continue sautéing the mixture until it is crisp.
In each of four salad bowls or plates, place ¼ of the cheese, then top with sliced tomatoes (as many as you wish).
Now for the “dirt.” Spoon as much of the mushroom/bread crumb mixture as desired on top of the tomatoes and cheese.
Mix together the olive oil and wine vinegar (to your own taste); drizzle over the tomatoes/cheese/dirt salad; top with fresh chopped basil.
Recipe courtesy of Foodwishes.blogspot.com
Photo credit: Flickr user, vandys
And one to save in your recipe file for the next chilly day… these step by step directions, including pictures for each step, are fantastic!:Microwaved Tomato Soup, courtesy of ChefSteps.com.