Tips and Recipes for Summer Tomatoes

When we lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, I would start my tomatoes indoors and then transplanted them to planters on a flat roof that faced south and caught the summer sun.  I planted early tomatoes and had ripe tomatoes by the Fourth of July.  It was a good thing; I could count on them freezing about the first of September.  Still, that’s about as long of a season as what I find in Idaho.

Tomatoes and Sandwiches

I eat lots of tomato sandwiches: BLT’s, club sandwiches, hoagies, and just plain tomato sandwiches with a bit of mayonnaise.  But tomato sandwiches tend to get soggy, so . . .

  • Toast your bread.  That gives your sandwich structure and it will hold up better.
  • Salt your tomato slices and then blot up the tomato juice with a paper towel.  You can get most of your juice and your sandwiches won’t get soggy.

Prosciutto and Gouda Panini Sandwich Recipe

We found a very smoky Gouda cheese for this sandwich and made it on San Francisco Sourdough Bread.  We topped it with slices of onion, tomato, and shredded Fontina cheese.  Great sandwich!

Ingredients

1 small tomato
salt
pepper
4 slices of bread, thickly sliced
smoked gouda cheese, very thinly sliced
Prosciutto, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
shredded Fontina cheese
olive oil

Directions

  1. Slice the tomato slices, sprinkle them with salt, and place on a paper towel.  The salt will draw some of the moisture from the tomato.  After fifteen minutes, sop up the extra juice with another paper towel.  Sprinkle with pepper.
  2. Place a layer of Gouda cheese on one slice of bread, then Prosciutto, and then the onion and tomato.  Top with the shredded cheese.  Cover with another slice of bread.  Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil.
  3. Cook on the heated grill pan or griddle, cheese side down and topped with a Panini press until crisp and golden.  If you are not using a Panini press, turn the sandwich after one side is cooked.

Chicken and Tomato Salads

When we don’t have much time and we don’t feel like a sandwich, I’ll grill a chicken breast and make a salad.  I tend to throw a lot of stuff on the salad—mushrooms, canned corn, olives, fresh peas, gated carrots, and more.  I always add tomatoes.

  • Cook your chicken breast before slicing it; it will be juicier.  It takes a little longer to cook but it’s worth it.  Use a meat thermometer or learn to tell doneness by pressing the meat with your finger.  (Meat becomes firmer as it cooks.)
  • Create variety with seasonings.  I love spice blends from The Teeny Tiny Spice Company.  They take the monotony out of chicken and I love the flavors.
  • Add flavored sea salt to salads, sprinkling smoked salt or roasted garlic or chipotle salt over the finished salad.  That’s a nice touch.

Chicken, Bacon, and Tomato Salad with Roasted Garlic Salt

This salad recipe was inspired by the perennially favorite club sandwich. It boasts chicken, bacon, tomato, and mozzarella on a bed of spinach greens and is then topped with a creamy vinaigrette.

The dressing can be made with either yogurt or mayonnaise—whichever you prefer. It’s made with equal parts lime juice and honey with just a bit of prepared mustard.

For the Salad

1/2 pound bacon, cooked
and crumbled
1 1/2 cups sliced, cooked
chicken meat
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
spinach greens

For the Dressing

1/2 cup plain yogurt or mayonnaise
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon Roasted Garlic Salt

1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Crumble it into bits or cut it up with kitchen shears.
2. While the bacon is cooking, mix the dressing ingredients together. Whisk until smooth.
3. Arrange the chicken, tomatoes, cheese, and spinach greens on a plate. Serve with dressing on the side.

Pasta with Tomatoes

I love fresh tomatoes with my pasta.  Even spaghetti is better with chunks of fresh tomatoes.  I much prefer my tomatoes uncooked.  I add the tomatoes to the cooked pasta or toss the tomatoes and the sauce together on the pasta.

Linguine Carbonara with Fresh Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 pound linguine
3/4 pound bacon, cooked to almost crisp and cut into 3/4-inch pieces with kitchen shears
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup white cooking wine
5 large eggs
1/3 cup cream
1 cup Gouda cheese, grated
3 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and diced.

Directions

  1. Cook the linguine in salted water, as directed on the package.
  2. Fry the bacon until barely crisp; drain off excess grease. Remove the bacon from the pan and place it on a paper towel. With kitchen shears, snip the cooled bacon into 3/4-inch pieces.
  3. In the same pan you fried the bacon, sauté the onions until they appear translucent. Return the bacon to the pan and add the cooking wine. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  4. Place the eggs, cream, and grated cheese in a bowl and whip them with a fork.
  5. Drain the linguine as soon as it is cooked, and while it’s still hot add it to the pan with the bacon and onion. Immediately add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss. Continue cooking until the cheese is melted. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add the diced tomatoes. Serve hot.

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