Going to the farmer’s market each week is a delightful surprise because as the summer sadly rolls to an end, new fruits and veggies pop up in the stands as the fall harvest season slowly makes it’s way in. Last week must have been the start of tomato pickin-season because the market was filled with all sorts of tomato varieties.
Like the avocado, the eggplant, and squashes, the tomato is one often mistaken for a vegetable, when in fact it is actually a fruit. (Betcha didn’t know squashes are considered a fruit, eh?)
All of the examples above contain seeds, which is a characteristic you can use to distinguish between fruits and veggies the next time you find yourself caught up in the grocery store wondering.
Not all tomatoes are the same, and there are quiet a few varities to choose from. Some are sweeter and work great in salads, while others have a heartier flavor and work better in sauces. To help give you a clearer idea of the different varities and what they’re best to use for, here’s a little list of some of the most popular kinds:
These are a very popular and very versatile tomato. Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated, meaning they are a hybrid of other tomatoes through natural cross-pollination from insects, birds and wind. Because of this, they don’t have a long shelf-life so use quickly. Heirlooms are great cooking tomatoes.
I’m not sure why they’re called “plum” tomatoes because they don’t look like plums. Grape and cherry tomatoes on the other hand? Now that makes sense. But whatevs. Plum tomatotes work perfect diced up in fresh salads, or in a simple tomato, cucumber and olive oil mixture.
Grape and cherry tomatoes
Eat fresh with a little bit of salt and pepper as a side dish or appetizer. These have a higher sugar content than other larger varities of tomatoes which makes them great for snacking.
These aren’t meant for slicing, but rather they are best to use in thick sauces. The roma tomato is the standard in tomato pastes.
Use them in BLT’s and other sammiches. These are the best tomatoes to use to slice since they have a thicker wall and less pulp. Slicing a softer tomato with a lotta pulp can get messy, and frustrating. Beefsteaks are firmer with less gush, which is why they work great between bread.
Cooking tip: Regardless of the variety, it helps to have a super sharp knife to cut tomatoes. A serrated knife works too, and if you are slicing or dicing tomatoes, it helps to cut flesh-side up after the initial slice down the middle.
Chicken with Herb Roasted Tomatoes
I used the recipe on pg. 34 of the August edition of Bon Appetit magazine for today’s blog. Since tomatoes are in season there were quiet a few tomato recipes and this one looked the yummiest. I’ve made some tweaks in the recipe to suit my tastes.
- 1 ½ lbs. of cherry tomatoes or another small version (I used heirloom for the recipe)
- 6 tbs. of olive oil, divided
- 2 tbs. of Italian Seasoning (you can also use herbs de provence)
- 1 tbs. of sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast (washed and patted dry)
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 tbs. red wine vinegar
- 3 tbs. flat leaf parsley chopped
1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix the tomatoes, 2 tbs. of olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl and set to the side.
3. Heat 1 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet on medium and carefully add the tomatoes to the pan. Simmer over the heat for a few minutes until the tomatoes release some juice. Then transfer the tomatoes into the oven for about 15 minutes, until more juice is released, then take them out of the oven and set them aside in a large bowl.
4. While the tomatoes are in the oven, season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Using the same skillet you used from the tomatoes, add 1 more tbs. of olive oil, and over medium-high heat, brown the chicken for about 6-8 minutes on each side, then put the skillet in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Once the chicken is done, remove from the skillet and allow to cook on a cooking board.
5. Add the remaining 1 tbs. of olive oil in the same skillet, and sautee the shallots, and then deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegard, scraping the skillet to get up all the little bits and pieces. Add the tomatoes back into the skillet and allow to thicken for a few minutes. Add more salt and pepper and/or Italian seasoning to taste.
6. Slice the chicken and set on a plate, then spoon the tomato mixture on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley.