August 28. 2018 10:54PM

Tomatoes: The fruit of summer is ripe and ready for salads, savory dishes

By JANINE GILBERTSON


Stuffed tomatoes feature apple chicken sausage and feta. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I love this time of year when you can walk outside and pick a juicy, ripe tomato from the garden and put it to good use.

I picked my first handful of grape tomatoes the other day; I chopped them up and made them into a tomato salad with avocado and cucumbers. It was delicious.

I’ve learned my lesson with growing tomatoes. When I first started gardening years ago, I bought way too many tomato plants and had dozens of tomatoes to use up at the end of the summer. I remember picking the tomatoes and bringing them inside before the first frost hit; there were tomatoes all over the kitchen. Because I hate wasting food, I got busy and made a big batch of tomato sauce.

If you have tomatoes in the garden that you need to put to use, you can always make them into a simple tomato salad with chopped cucumber and avocado; a little olive oil, a pinch of Kosher salt and a good quality vinegar are all you need for dressing.

You can also chop up tomatoes and use them to fill an omelette. A feta cheese and tomato omelette makes for a nutritious, easy breakfast or dinner. You can also experiment with different cheeses if you want to switch things up; cheddar is another great option.

Tomatoes are also great stuffed. Just cut the top off and scoop out the insides, then use it like a little edible bowl.

cup. I made a filling with sweet apple chicken sausage, zucchini, onions, red peppers, Israeli couscous and feta cheese. The first batch of stuffed tomatoes I made didn’t work out so great. I filled the tomatoes and put them in the oven to bake and when I took them out, the tomatoes turned into piles of mush. Now I cook the filling, stuff the tomatoes and serve it without baking. Next time I make stuffed tomatoes, I plan to grate some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top, then stick them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. This will melt the cheese without turning the tomatoes to mush.

Stuffed Tomatoes



4 beefsteak tomatoes

2 c. Israeli Couscous, cooked

2 c. apple chicken sausage, cooked and diced

1/4 c. sweet onion, chopped

1/4 c. feta cheese

1/2 c. zucchini, chopped

1/4 c. red bell pepper, chopped

2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Kosher salt



Cut tops of the tomatoes with a pairing knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Set the prepared tomatoes aside. Add olive oil to a saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once oil is heated, add zucchini, red pepper, onion and salt and saute until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Stir in couscous, cheese and sausage and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Spoon mixture into the tomatoes; sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Tomato Feta Omelette



3 eggs

1 T. milk

2 T. feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 c. grape tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

basil, chopped, if desired for garnish



Set a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray. Beat the eggs and milk together with a fork, then pour into the heated skillet. Cook the eggs until the bottom of the eggs lift easily from the skillet with a spatula and the top of the eggs are no longer liquid, then add the tomatoes and feta cheese to the center. Using a spatula, gently fold the right and left sides of the cooked eggs towards the center, then fold the top and bottom towards the center. You can also add the tomatoes and feta to one side of the eggs and fold in half. Once the omlet is folded, remove from skillet and set on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with basil, if desired, before serving.



Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad



1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 c. English Cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 T. avocado or olive oil

1 T. fig vinegar

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. herbed sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 T. fresh basil, chopped



Add the tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and shallots to a medium bowl then drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil and gently toss to combine.