AndyTalk: You Say Tomato, I Say Let's Get Cooking

Categories: Chow Bella


Tomatoes, Heirloom Medley.jpg
Andy Broder
​There were no tomatoes in Italian food until the late 17th or early 18th century. Indigenous to the New World, it was well after Columbus set sail that tomatoes made their way to the tables of Europe.

There were no tomatoes on my own table until about 15 years ago. I grew up a bit of a fussy eater, and didn't like raw tomatoes. One day at a farmers market I was offered a taste of a just-picked tomato.

It was sweet and juicy and melted in my mouth. I flew home from that San Francisco market with a bag of tomatoes resting gently on my lap. It turns out that I actually like tomatoes; it's just that I'd never tasted a good one. Standard grocery store tomatoes are often substandard. They're picked and shipped before they're ripe and they've been bred for maximum shelf life, not for flavor. Luckily, times have changed (or they're beginning to change). Vine ripened tomatoes are relatively easy to find and heirloom tomatoes have gone from trend to a near-staple status. Give me a good tomato and I'll give you all sorts of good ways to add it to your next meal.

There's more than one way to cook a tomato, and I'll get to those next week. Below are my favorite raw tomato options.

Mixed Heirloom Tomato Salad is as colorful as confetti and as simple a recipe as you'll ever find. Slice or dice your tomatoes and toss with a little olive oil and a splash or two of vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tomatoes, Mixed Heirloom Salad.jpg
Andy Broder
Tomato and Bread Salad was originally a way of using day old bread. Now I use a fresh crusty loaf of bread to make huge Texas-ish croutons and toss them with tomatoes and Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette - which adds a whole extra dimension of tomato to the salad. Let the salad sit for 10 - 15 minutes before serving so the croutons are partly crunchy partly chewy. The vinaigrette is also a nice way of getting some tomato splashed onto every piece of lettuce in a green salad.
Tomato and Bread Salad.jpg
Andy Broder
If you want to add cheese to your tomato salad use a vegetable peeler to get beautifully shaved Manchego or Asiago.
Cheese Curls with a Veg Peeler.jpg
Andy Broder
Last - a fun way to use tomatoes as a side dish and a garnish is to get tomatoes that are different colors but the same size. Slice them horizontally and then re-assemble using alternating colors. Cut a paper-thin slice off the bottom so it'll wobble but it won't fall down.
Tomato Stack.jpg
Andy Broder
Fresh ripe tomatoes are one of the western hemisphere's greatest contributions to the culinary word. They're worthy of a little culinary exploration.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.


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5 comments
sarum
sarum

What I learned about tomatoes;  hang them in a netting bag (like recycled from your clementines) and don't put them in the fridge.  They ripen quite nicely this way and don't get mealy.  Took me a long time to figure this out but since I have been doing this I don't get anymore complaints and missing the old beefsteaks.  They rarely go bad either.

Andy Broder
Andy Broder

You're tight - the fridge will stop the ripening process.  I like to wash them when i get them home -  then dry them - it only takes a couple of minutes but it rinses off stuff that can make them go bad faster.  This way a firm/ripe tomato will be good for several days at room temp.

Gusanicky
Gusanicky

Awesome pics and great, simple ideas!

guest
guest

My fave way to eat delicious raw tomatoes is as topping for bruschetta -- diced with some minced garlic, olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. With or without mozzarella.

Andy Broder
Andy Broder

Bruschetta's  great. The Bread and Tomato salad has a lot of the same flavors.  Add some basil and garlic and it's a bruschetta salad.

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