There’s probably no other fruit as universal in the kitchen as the bright red tomato. There are countless culinary histories based on the existence of this fruit: think of Mexican and Italian food. What would this world be without pico de gallo? Or pizza without its sauce? Or what would take ketchup’s place? Mexican molletes (a traditional breakfast bread with toppings) would be dull, and the Italian’s would just have bread with melted cheese on top. And my hamburger would definitely not be the same.
Americans were to first to consume the delicious tomato. In places like Mexico they called it xictomatl (some people where I come from still call it jitomate). This nightshade (Solanaceae, belongs to the same family as potatoes) crossed the Atlantic with the first Spanish colonists, and took hold across the Mediterranean. The rest is history, packaged neatly within Pomodoro sauce. It’s almost guaranteed that every palate in the world has experienced at least once, the wonderful gifts of tomatoes in our food.
Tomatoes are nourishing and contain a very peculiar carotenoid known as Lycopene. It acts as an antioxidant in cellular protection, and tomatoes are one of the fruits that contain a large amount of it. They are also rich in vitamin C, which helps our immune system, and vitamin E, which cares for our skin and provides a few interesting micronutrients, like manganese, copper, and molybdenum. I hope these recipes inspire you to grab a tomato, and include it in your next meal. My current appetizer has been a bit of salt and lemon on a few tomato slices.
- 4 tomatoes
- 400 grams of shrimp
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
- 1/3 c. of plain yogurt
- 1/3 c. pitted olives, thinly slices
- 60 grams of cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp. of paprika
- Olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Remove heads, tails, and devein shrimp. Cook shrimp in a pan with olive oil and garlic.
- Cut off the top part of the tomato and remove the insides. Once cleaned out, place them face down on blotting paper for a few minutes to absorb remaining juices.
- Cut shrimp and combine with olives, paprika, plain yogurt, and cream cheese. Salt to taste.
- Fill tomatoes with the shrimp mixture, and garnish with chives.
Tomatoes with mussels
- 1 kilo of diced tomato
- 1 kilo of clams (or mollusks)
- 1 ½ yellow peppers, finely diced
- ½ c. capers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsp. of butter
- 1 c. white wine
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 c. of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and saute for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
- Add white wine, and allow to boil down for 3 minutes. Try the sauce.
- Add diced tomatoes, capers, and pepper to the mixture.
- When the pepper is slightly softened, add mussels, and cook, covered, until they open. Once they open, add fresh parsley and mix.
- Serve in deep bowels. As an accompaniment to the mussels, you can try slices toasted bread.
Sauce for the cakes:
- 1 ¼ c. flour
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable butter
- 3 Tbsp. Manchego cheese, sliced
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. thyme, fresh or dried
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. very cold water
For the stuffing:
- 1 kilo tomatoes, sliced
- 350 grams mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ c. mushrooms
- ½ c. pesto
Sauce for the cakes:
- In a food processor, add flour, butter, vegetable butter, Manchego cheese, thyme, pepper, and salt. The dough will have small lumps in it. Add 2 Tbsp. of water, and mix.
- Add remaining water if you notice that, when grabbing a piece of the dough, it doesn’t stick together, or it crumbles apart. Add one tablespoon at a time.
- Using the bottom part of your hand, spread the butter throughout the dough. If you have problems working the entire ball of dough, divide it in half. Shape it into a disc shape, and place it in a plastic bag. Let stand for 1 hour, so the dough hardens.
- Knead the dough and place in a greased, 30 cm round cake pan. Poke the dough with a fork. You can place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the cake before baking, along with ceramic weights or raw beans on top, to ensure even cooking, and to prevent it from sinking. Bake at 200?C (400?F).
- Once the cake is baked, remove weights and aluminum foil.
- Place one third of the mozzarella cheese to the bottom of the cake, and add one third of the pesto, and one third of the mushrooms and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Repeat the layering twice more, creating 3 layers of ingredients.