My Summer Fling with Tomatoes (A Collection of Last Week’s Dinners)

In the past I’ve made fun of Nick for getting a little carried away when he discovers a new food or rediscovers an old standby.  After I introduced Nick to avocado (beyond guacamole), he made sure that our kitchen was always stocked with them until my stomach turned at the sight of sliced avocados in a Chili’s commercial and I had to ask for a “break”.  But I have to admit that I do the same thing, as exemplified by my love affair with tomatoes for the last few weeks.

It started with the Heirloom Tomato Tart I made a couple weeks ago.  Later in the week we enjoyed the rest of that batch of heirloom tomatoes as a substantial part of our dinner one night… just sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Pasta…

Then came the container of baby heirloom tomatoes.

After keeping them at room temperature, they became part of a pasta dish that was far more successful as a photograph than as a tasty meal.  Not that it was bad… it was actually better than I thought it was going to be while I was assembling it.  But I will admit that I was completely driven by the image of whole wheat pasta over baby spinach topped with zucchini and tomatoes…  all the pretty colors!  I just didn’t think it through very well.  The plan- saute zucchini and shallots while the pasta is cooking.  While the pasta is still hot, put it over some raw baby spinach– the pasta should be hot enough to lightly steam the spinach, right?  Then top with the zucchini, tomatoes, fresh basil and goat cheese.

The problems… the pasta steaming the spinach didn’t work so well.  And as I was plating the pasta I realized there was no sauce of any kind to pull the veggies and the pasta together.  Because I was too lazy to heat it up, I spooned a little  bit of marinara sauce straight from the fridge over the pasta, and stirred the spinach, pasta, and sauce together.  So… the whole thing ended up being more room temperature rather than the pasta and zucchini being hot enough to heat the other veggies.  BUT- the flavors of the tomatoes, zucchini, basil, and goat cheese were still wonderful together.

Polenta…

The rest of the little tomatoes went into a dish with diced tomatoes and poblano peppers over baked polenta.  That was pretty awesome.  Poblanos might sound like a strange thing to add to a lot of Italian flavors (at least it seemed like a weird idea to me), but the smokiness and heat added an interesting element to an otherwise simple tomato sauce.

I cut up a poblano pepper into one-inch pieces, and sauteed it in olive oil with some red pepper flakes.  After the peppers started to char, I added some cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic.

After another few minutes when the garlic was golden and the tomatoes started to get a couple dark spots, I added about half of a can of diced tomatoes until they heated through.  Just before serving I stirred in a small handful of shredded mozzarella.   Served over sliced polenta which I baked for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees, drizzled with olive oil.

Sandwiches…

And that’s not all…  Last week, it seemed like everyone on Facebook was bragging about the awesome BLT they had the night before.  (Well, not everyone, but at least two of my friends mentioned BLTs… apparently I surround myself with friends who like food as much as I do.)  And then I saw this: How to Build the Perfect BLT from Bon Appetit (of course).   I can’t say I followed their directions completely.  I would have liked to, but I happened to go to the grocery store shortly after the great East Coast Earthquake, and I wasn’t really thinking about the ideal lettuce for sandwiches…  I was just proud of myself for remembering to get everything on my mental grocery list and resisting the fancy fair trade chocolate bars.

Anyway, I did salt the tomatoes, as suggested, and I did cut my sandwich diagonally.  Next time maybe I’ll try their tip of oven-cooking the bacon, and making some aioli instead of plain mayo.  But sourdough, applewood smoked bacon, green leaf lettuce, and a thick slice of a Mr. Stripey heirloom tomato enhanced by just a little mayonnaise, salt, and pepper was pretty close to perfect, as far as I’m concerned.

Oh… I didn’t get any pictures of the BLT.  If I had more bacon I would have made another one for lunch today.  As it turned out, I had to “settle” for an MLT (Mozzarella, Lettuce, Tomato), so you have to settle for a picture of that.  Enjoy.

P.S.  Bonus picture!

Clearly, this is not a tomato.  But it is the whole chicken that Nick grilled the other week.  He was quite proud of himself, and rightly so.

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Filed under Cooking, Last Night's Dinner

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