Fresh tomatoes are only ever good in summer. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, winey, flavor of a vine ripe tomato – as there is nothing as disappointing as the dull, insipid, lifeless flavor of a cold storage tomato shipped from halfway around the world. I don’t eat those and strongly suggest that you don’t either. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible.
One of my favorite ways of eating a tomato in summer is served sliced on white bread with mayonnaise. No chiffonade of basil or tender leaves of oregano. No artisan sourdough bread. No extra virgin olive oil. No hand-pounded garlic aioli. No hand-harvested sea salt. No lemon zest. Not even a slice of crisp applewood smoked bacon. Out, out damn spots of cracked Tellicherry pepper! I want cheap, off the grocery store shelf, white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth. I want it slathered with store-bought mayonnaise, paired with meaty, thick, juicy slices of tomato. I cut the sandwich in half and eat it over the kitchen sink to best catch the juices dripping down my chin. Now, that’s summer!
Check out this article in the Washington Post where I admit absolute Tomato Sandwich heresy!!
Vegetable or a Fruit?
Summer vegetables are at their peak! Okra, corn, summer squash, and peppers are all in season. These vegetables thrive in the heat of summer. Tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all members of the nightshade family. There’s something a bit sexy about those nightshades; maybe it’s the deadly, yet beautiful part….
Tomatoes are, in fact, a fruit as are many summer “vegetables.” Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. However, these vegetables’ affinity for other savory ingredients means that they are usually classed as a vegetable.
Peppers and tomatoes marry well together. There’s an expression, “What grows together goes together.” This is a perfect example of that philosophy. This week’s main recipe Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes is packed with summer produce! Peppers can be tricky because the primary source of capsaicin comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds. However, removing the seeds in effect can also remove the pith. Need some help? Check out my quick Insta video on How to Remove the Seeds of a Pepper.
Tomato Recipe Round-Up
As tempting as it may be, there are lots of recipes to try with tomatoes in the summer, not just a mayo-kissed sandwich. Here’s a bushel basket of tomato recipes for you to enjoy.
- Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie in the New York Times.
- Slow Roasted Fish with Tomato Vierge in Flavor & the Menu.
- Kick it up a notch! Spiced Okra and Tomatoes on Food Network
- Southern Panzanella here on Cooking with Virginia (plus a bunch of recipes from other chefs, too!)
- Grilled Zucchini with Tomatoes and Mint in Southern Living.
I recently posted a before and after photo on Instagram. I’ve now lost 60 pounds, and well, I look quite different. A deluge of people responded and I also had a slew of DMS, texts, and emails. It seems that it really touched a lot of folks. Weight is an obstacle for many people. A lot of messages were of asking for tips, techniques, and recipes. I have been sliding more WW-friendly recipes every week or so, (like my Angel Food Cake and even the Snicker’s Chocolate Pudding) but not seriously focusing on sharing why.
After the response, it seems that’s what a lot of people really want. So, I am going to try to share more of what’s going on in my life and on my table. The reason I do so well with WW is that it doesn’t feel like deprivation. I can have cake and pudding. No, I can’t have them on the same day and it’s not wise to eat them every day, but I can have cake. This week, my go-to dessert has been of freshly sliced, tree-ripe Georgia peaches, and a judicious dollop of creme fraiche. Creme fraiche is ultra-indulgent — but it’s incredible. I make choices with other foods so that I can have “incredible” on my plate. It’s all about choices. And, I have learned losing weight is really about “gaining self.”
One of my strategies is to eat a lot of vegetables. (Zero points!) This recipe for Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes can be a main or a side dish. It’s packed with fresh herbs and summer vegetables, keeping the points low and flavor high! I love it and hope you and your family do, too.
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Summer Vegetable Stuffed Tomatoes
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 1 spritz nonstick cooking spray
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic very finely chopped
- 1 small summer squash chopped
- Scraped kernels from 1 ear fresh sweet corn
- 1 small sweet chile cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 hot chile cored, seeded, and diced, or to taste
- Handful okra thinly sliced
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese or cream cheese
- 4 tablespoons benne seeds
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. To form tomato shells, with a serrated knife, slice off the tops of the tomatoes and remove their cores. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes to create a shell, transferring the juices and pulp to a small bowl. Using your hands, squish the pulp and seeds until smooth but slightly chunky. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved tomato mixture and cook until it’s absorbed into the corn and the skillet is dry, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the tomato shells, cut-side up, in a small casserole dish. Spoon some of the filling into the prepared tomatoes. (You’ll probably have left over; it can be eaten separately as a side dish.) Sprinkle over the benne seeds. Bake until the tomatoes are heated through, about 10 minutes. Scatter over the chopped herbs and serve immediately.
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