Most people know enough about food lore to remember that once upon a time tomatoes were thought to be poisonous. Introduced in Europe from the Americas in the XVIth century, they aroused only curiosity and terror. I suppose that if we were presented with an unknown fruit that is bright red, highly acidic and related to the deadly nightshade to boot, we might think twice about eating eat. Even the Italians didn’t start eating tomatoes until the XVIIIth century. If you are a tomato fanatic, of the kind eat them year round, try every variety, like them raw, cooked, pulped, juiced, your culinary life would have been impoverished.
Lee Bailey, a famous cook, suggests using oven-cured tomatoes in salads. They are dazzling served while still warm with some proper buffalo mozzarella and serve them alongside grilled fish or chicken. They are great on pasta too.
Cornmeal-dusted pan-fried green tomatoes are more than just a curiosity for devotees of the arch-weepy film Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Lee Bailey recommends eating them for breakfast, but it is a good idea to eat them also for brunch or first course at dinner.
Finally, the Tomato Sandwiches are more a hymn of praise than a recipe. Use a few leaves of rocket if you can’t find radish sprouts. Let’s start with:
- about 1.5 kg tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Core the stem end of the tomatoes and cut an X in the bottom. Dip in boiling water for 8 to 10 seconds, then immediately into ice water. Slip the skins off and cut each tomato in half crosswise.
Line a sheet pan (baking pan) with foil and lightly oil it. Place the tomatoes on the foil, cut side down. Combine the remaining ingredients and rub each tomato half with the mixture.
Place in the oven and turn it to 110°C . Bake for 5 hours, until the tomatoes are soft but retain their shape. To store, cover with olive oil and refrigerate them.
Cornmeal Pan-fried Green Tomatoes
- 1 egg beaten with a little milk
- yellow cornmeal
- 5mm slices green tomato
- oil for frying
- salt and black pepper to taste
Start preparing this dish by spreading the flour on a sheet of waxed paper. Put the egg wash in a shallow dish. Spread the cornmeal on a sheet of waxed paper.
Dredge the tomato slices in four and shake off the excess. Dip each slice in egg and drain off the excess. Coat with cornmeal, shaking off the excess lightly.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over a medium flame. When hot, add the tomatoes. Cook several minutes, until golden, then turn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Tomato sandwiches are a snap to make, and if you are not already acquainted with their miraculous curative powers it’s time you gave yourself a treat-as well as a treatment.
There are two basic ones: The classic-which is made on nicely toasted bread spread with homemade mayonnaise-and the tomato tea sandwich-which is made on thin-sliced white bread (trimmed) spread with softened Tabasco butter (or plain). It is not a bad idea to add a sprinkling of radish sprouts to the tea sandwich.