Summer tomatoes


First Posted: 8/6/2013

It’s that time of year again. While tomatoes may have originated in South America, they are bountiful in Pennsylvania for the 30th Annual Pittston Tomato Festival, which will take place Thursday, Aug, 15 through Sunday, Aug. 18. Between the tomato contest, tomato fights, sauce wars and much more, you won’t be able to avoid the topic of tomatoes.

For those who have visited the Farmers Markets this year, it is apparent that Pennsylvania tomatoes are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and colors. When picking tomatoes, try to look for fruits that are firm, have smooth skin and are pinkish or red in color. Avoid any that seem too soft, have wrinkly or broken skin or blotchy green and brown areas.

Don’t worry if there is a little green, though. Partially-green tomatoes can be stored in a warm place (not in direct sunlight) and will ripen within a few days. When you get your tomatoes home, store them at room temperature, unless they are fully ripened. Once they are completely ripe, or have been sliced, they must be kept in the fridge.

If you are growing your own tomatoes this summer, you may already know that there are two basic types of tomato plants, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants grow to a specific height and produce all of their flowers at one time. Indeterminate though, will continue to grow and produce flowers throughout the whole season. The best types of tomatoes to plant in this region include traditional round red fruit, specialty cherry, yellow and heirloom.

While tomatoes are a summertime favorite, I can’t seem to think of this fruit without one of its best companions—basil. Basil is an herb that originated in India and has been used as a flavoring in many different types of cuisines, from Thai to Italian. Basil is actually known for improving the growth and flavor or some of the plants it is grown with, including tomatoes. Next time you have these two summertime favorites at home, try whipping up this classic and delicious dip.

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

8 tomatoes (ripe, chopped)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

½ red onion (chopped)

6 basil leaves (fresh)

2 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)

Salt and pepper (optional, to taste)

1 loaf French bread (cut into ½ inch diagonal slices)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil in a bowl. Season it with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional), and then set it aside.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake it for about 5 to 7 minutes until it begins to brown slightly, then remove bread from oven and transfer it to a serving platter.

Serve the tomato mixture in a bowl with a serving spoon and let everyone help themselves. Or place some on each slice of bread before serving. If adding the tomato mixture yourself, add it at the last minute or the bread may become soggy.

Source: SNAP-Ed Recipe

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