If Eve had used a tomato instead of an apple, maybe the story of Adam and Eve would have been different. After all tomatoes are often called “love apples” and were thought to have aphrodisiac powers.The French therefore named it quite appropriately, pomme d’amour.
The Italians called them pomi d'oro: golden apples. Probably referring to the golden apples of the Hesperides, given by Gaia, the Earth mother, to Hera, queen of the gods, and grown in a garden at the edge of the sunset. They were cultivated in the mystical west where the Aztecs, grew them and ate them mixed with chilies.
It was the Spanish who brought tomatoes to Europe in the 16th century, leaving people curios about this unknown fruit. Were they poisonous? Or were they some kind of aphrodisiac like the mandrake plant?
The enigmatic tomato belongs to the same family as tobacco and the toxic, deadly nightshade, but that just adds to its glamour and mystery. Sex, drugs and death, taking us back to Eden where the forbidden fruit should have been a tomato!
Tomatoes have become an inextricable part of many cuisines and as summer nears it’s end they are currently in their prime season. This year I planted several varieties of tomatoes and was thrilled to receive a bountiful crop. From cherry, to plum to heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes ... I had them all. We’ve been enjoying them mostly in light summer dishes like tarts, galettes and in risottos and salads however last week I gathered a large crate full and as I do in most years I prepared to preserve them so that the flavors of my sun-ripened juicy tomatoes stay with me through the cooler time of the year.
I often make batches of marinara sauce, passata, oven roasted tomatoes in oil and chutney or pickles with my tomatoes, which accompany me through most of Autumn and some of Winter.
Passata is a fundamental pantry item as it serves the basis of several dishes. As we reach the cooler months I will be using my passata for curries, thick stews, casseroles and tagines. Passata is basically an uncooked tomato sauce that has been strained of seeds and skin. Originating in Italy it quickly spread throughout Europe due to it’s versatile usage. I like to keep my passata pure and without additional flavor as I either spice or flavor it depending on the type of cuisine I am making. It’s very useful item to have in your pantry.
My marinara sauce on the other hand is chunkier and includes fresh herbs from my garden. Often I use basil, oregano, marjoram or parsley and allow the aromas to infuse with the sauce. The longer it rests it the jars the more flavorful the sauce becomes. Marinara sauce is another one of those pillar items in my kitchen that gets full use in a variety of ways. I make a mean seafood stew using this as a base or serve it with mussels and linguine; and it the perfect sauce for pizzas. Soeren spoons it on leftover pasta - nukes it in the microwave for a few minutes and grates fresh Parmesan or adds small mozzarella balls and has a quick lunch in minutes. Use a skillet instead of a pot or saucepan as I find the water evaporates quickly leaving the tomatoes just cooked through and keeping their lovely vivid color.
The spicy tomato ketchup is a new addition to my tomato repertoire this year. Maybe ketchup in the broader sense as it is chunkier and has a lot more texture, it leans towards a tomato jam but not as sweet. It would be a richly spiced ketchup with layers of thrilling flavors and aromas I use from the Indian spice cabinet. The heady aromas are intoxicating and this has quickly become a loved condiment on sandwiches. I used the garam masala blend from Masala Monsoon - Rose Petal Garam Masala. These blends have become a favorite in my kitchen. Here too use a skillet to make the tomato sauce without overcooking the tomatoes to a pulp.
Three great ideas on preserving these vivid tomatoes for a little longer as the season begins to come to an end. Three different flavor blends with multiple ways to use them. Enjoy!
The marinara sauce is filled with sweet fragrance of tomatoes and earthy herbs, while the exhilarating perfume of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and the mélange of garam masala stimulates the taste buds and then the smooth passata with the pure flavors of nothing but sweet ripe tomatoes - three indispensible sauces to have in stock as it makes life and weeknight meals a lot easier.
More great tomato ideas from What’s for lunch, Honey?:
|Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup - Pappa al Pomodoro||Tomato Goat Cheese Galette with Anchovies, Olives and Capers||Clafoutis - Tomato Zucchini and Goat Cheese|
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