Cooking with tomato


A brief history

The tomato is an indigenous plant from South America. When Europeans arrived in America, the tomato was found in Central America and Mexico. It is with the Aztecs that the Spanish discovered the tomato. On the trip back home they brought tomatoes with them but it took a long time for the Europeans to introduce the vegetable in their menu as it was thought that the tomato would possibly poisoned people who ate it. I is around 1750  that tomato recipes are published in a few cookbooks and it is only in 1900 that it began to be very popular in Europe and North America. The tomato has been classified as a fruit but the Unites States began to classify the tomato as a vegetable. The picture below was take at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado while visiting the park in 2010. It testify that the tomato is  a common staple of the Pueblo Natives  for more than 2000 years.

Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde

My tomato guide

Fresh tomatoes

There is no match for the taste of tomatoes locally grown and ripen on the vine. Out of season on should choose tomatoes with a nice color and supple without being to soft. They should not be displayed on refrigerated shelves.

Since cold temperature alter the taste and texture of tomatoes, it is best to store them at room temperature. If you have to refrigerate them to prevent them from spoiling, bring them to room temperature before using them.

To easily peel them, plunge them first in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute then plunge in cold water to cool before peeling.

The most flavorful part of the tomato is in the substance that coat the seed. Unless one wishes to use only the flesh for esthetic reason it is preferable to keep the seeds when preparing tomatoes recipes.

Adding a pinch of sugar enhance the flavor of tomato sauce.

Canned Tomatoes

Personally I prefer canned whole tomatoes. Very often canned diced tomatoes are firm and dense even when cooked for a long time. Prefer canned tomatoes without tomato purée as it often lend to much acid to dishes. Many company uses a poor quality tomato puree to  cut their cost production.

When using a food processor to crush tomatoes, pulse only a few times otherwise it will crush seeds and render a bitter taste to sauces.

Winning flavors for tomato

  • Basil
  • Cheese, goat, gorgonzola, parmesan, mozzarella, pecorino
  • Chili pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Fennel (bulb)
  • Lemon
  • Onion
  • Peppercorn
  • Thyme,
  • Vinegar, balsamic, red wine, rice
  • Watermelon

 

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