You know you’re a tomato-aholic when you:
- carefully comb all the nurseries looking for just the right variety of heirloom tomatoes;
- actually dig up your entire garden and move it with you when you are forced to move unexpectedly in the middle of the summer;
- spend hours every day trimming, fertilizing, staking, watering and nurturing your precious plants back to life after a traumatic move;
- have every available windowsill lined with green tomatoes once the fall rains hit so that come November you still have homegrown tomatoes on hand; or
- all of the above.
Yes, that’s me. My name is Colleen and I am a tomato-aholic.
I have always had a passionate appetite for homegrown vegetables. My mother is an avid gardener and, as a child, we always had large, plentiful vegetable gardens. This is something that I’ve continued in various sizes and stages throughout my adult life, starting with a patio garden when I was younger and could only afford apartments. It has grown from there, particularly as I have added more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet.
I think my favorite vegetable to grow, though, is the tomato. It is amazing to me how many different sizes, colors, and flavors this one plant type can come in. I particularly love to grow a variety of small, sweet cherry tomatoes, pulpy romas, and juicy, meaty heirlooms. The heirlooms require the most patience as they take longer to mature. I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I find my first red brandywine ripe on the vine.
The red brandwines are my favorite. I love to eat them simply sliced and drizzled with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and ribbons of fresh basil. They are also amazing just slightly warmed atop a crispy summer tartine or in a pannini with mozzarella and avocado.
As great as these hearty giants of the garden are, I also adore my cherry tomatoes. These tiny gems make a great afternoon snack and are essential in just about any salad I make during the growing season. I also like to toss them in pasta for a burst of flavor and a pop of color in the dish. And that’s exactly why I added them to this zucchini ribbon salad.
I love the flavor combination of the sweet cherry tomatoes with the mild zucchini, peppery arugula and basil, and citrus-y white wine vinaigrette. They also add a much needed pop of color to the otherwise very green salad. In my opinion, the appearance of the dish is just as important as the flavor as your eye has to like what it sees first, leaving your tastebuds in delicious anticipation of the pleasure to come.
Recipes of the Week
Greek Stuffed Chicken Breast
- 2 oz. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil), diced
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 pound total)
Preheat oven to 350.
Use a fork to mix together the feta, oregano, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Set aside.
Use a sharp knife to butterfly each chicken breast open. Spread open along the seam and place between two sheets of plasticwrap or in a resealable plastic bag. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken so it is an even 1/4″ thickness across the breast.
Put half of the cheese mixture along the long side of one of the breasts. Roll the breast up and secure the ends with toothpicks. Repeat for the other breast.
Bake covered for 15 minutes then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more or until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through.
Remove from oven and let sit for 3 minutes then slice into round medallions. Serve immediately.
Serving Size: Makes 4 servings
Nutritional Information: Calories 151.7, Total Fat 3.4g, Cholesterol 62.5mg, Sodium 243.9mg, Total Carbs 4.4g, Dietary Fiber 0.6g, Protein 24.8g
Zucchini Ribbon Salad
- 2 medium baby zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced into thin slices, about 1/16″ thickness (I use a mandolin on the thinnest setting)
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 3 cups fresh baby arugula
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp dry white wine (I recommend a sauvignon blanc with citrus notes)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- pinch (1/8 tsp) of coarse sea salt
- 2 leaves society garlic, chopped (or can sub one small clove garlic minced)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the zucchini and let boil for 1 minute. Remove the zucchini and plunge immediately into an ice water bath. Let soak for about 5 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad.
Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet on medium heat until just lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Toss the arugula and basil in a salad bowl.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, sea salt, and society garlic. Drain the zucchini ribbons and add to the dressing, tossing to thoroughly coat the zucchini. Spread over the top of the arugula/basil mixture.
Top with the cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Serving Size: Makes 4 servings
Nutritional Information: Calories 112.1, Total Fat 10.3g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 63.6mg, Total Carbs 4.3g, Dietary Fiber 1.3g, Protein 1.8g