Let’s not call the whole thing off!
Growing up in New Jersey, a state known for the best tomatoes, brings back memories of my grandparents. My brother and I knew summer was coming, grandpa was preparing the garden. Mixing the soil perfectly, he said was an integral part to the chemistry of growing the best tomatoes, THE JERSEY TOMATO. Growing up we loved visiting, especially in the summer, the eating would always be good. Fresh vegetables and herbs straight from the garden. Grandpa Mark would love the whole process, weeded for hours. The best part for us was when he would walk us to his garden and let us pick our own tomato. A perfect tomato is sweet, tender and juicy. We would run back to the house and Leeping Lena, my grandmother would rinse, slice, salt and add it to a slice of Italian bread, this is what summer was about.
Sitting around eating and enjoying the fruits, or should I say vegetables, of his labor, and praising the harvest the debate would begin. What is a tomato? I was taught the tomato is a fruit, it has seeds, what were you taught? The NJ government determined that the tomato is a vegetable. It is the state vegetable, the blueberry is the state fruit.
The classic jersey tomato is a BEEFSTEAK tomato, and we all know from gardening friends that the entire crop seems to ripen all at once in August. So what is one to do with all their tomatoes? Here are some of the things my Grandmother has passed down.
Using ripe tomatoes, chop them up with some crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Leave them to marinate while you cook some Pasta. Then simply drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce topped with some shaved Parmesan cheese. Great when you want something quick after work.
Halve ripe tomatoes and place on a lined baking tray cut side up and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and garlic, roast for one to two hours in a very low oven until just beginning to brown around the edges. You can serve them either warm or cold. I put them over pasta or as a condiment on any sandwich. I also pour everything into a jar and they and they last in the refrigerator.
By simply dicing up some lovely ripe tomatoes and combining them with diced red onion, finely diced chilies (red or green, it’s up to you and how hot you like it), cilantro, lime juice and salt, you have a nice Tangy salsa that pairs well with chips. I have also been known to add canned corn and pineapple to round out all the flavors for my taste buds. Other fruits I have added are peach or mango.
Crush and peel tomatoes, Sauté in butter. Add 1 tsp sugar, chopped celery and onion, and a pinch of red pepper. Put on anything you like.
This is one of my favorites and I have tweaked Grandma’s version.
- 6 Jersey Tomatoes
- ½ Red Onion
- 1tbsp Garlic
- Sauté and cook
- ¼ Cup Sugar
- ¼ Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
- ¼ Cup Sweet Chili Sauce
Cook down to Glaze.
This treat is great on tuna, chicken, pasta or just Italian bread.
My grandfather’s pride was his tomatoes. Try it yourself and tell us how it comes out!