"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." - Lewis Grizzard
Shady Lady tomatoes...they're like the sexy, busty sirens of the farmers' market. With their deep lipstick red color and voluptuous shape, how can you resist them? You can eat them sliced on a plate with some buffalo mozzarella with a good balsamic drizzle or stacked with a thick cut of smoky applewood bacon and some creamy avocado on a fresh, hearty slice of sourdough. There's so many delicious ways to enjoy this heavenly fruit. One of my favorite ways to consume Shady Lady tomatoes is to oven-roast them and then make them into a sauce. The sauce is rich in flavor and smooth like butta', much too good to plop on a bowl of ordinary pasta. I like to use it to dress up appetizers like crostini or mini meatballs. With this batch, I used it to sauce some eggplant parmesan bites I made for some patio dining. We grew some wonderful Japanese eggplants in our garden this summer at Mr. S.'s which I sliced up into rounds. I dipped the round in egg yolk, then tossed them in a mixture of Parmesan cheese and dried breadcrumbs and fried them in some olive oil until they were nice and crisp. (I then placed them on some paper to absorb the excess oil.) Next, I spooned a tablespoon of my Shady Lady tomato sauce on the round and sprinkled some Parmesan on top and served the eggplant bite hot. They were a hit! Next year we'll have to grow more eggplants.
Our Japanese eggplants in the garden when they were about 1/4 of the way grown- don't they look like X-mas ornaments?
Shady Lady Tomato Sauce
5-6 big Shady Lady Tomatoes ( peeled*, cored, seeded, halved)
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 small yellow onions, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
glug of dry, red wine
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf
handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place tomato, garlic and onion in a glass baking dish. Spread out in a single layer, don't crowd. You want them to roast, not steam. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes until they start to caramelize (slightly browned and shriveled).
3. Place roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions in a food processor and give it a few good pulses. Place in a medium-size pot over medium heat. Add wine, sugar, sea salt, bay leaf, and fresh basil. Add a splash of good quality balsamic vinegar. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
4. Taste. Season with fresh ground pepper. Adjust seasonings if needed.
Marcella Hazan writes in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: "No other preparation is more successful in delivering the prodigious satisfactions of Italian cooking than a competently executed sauce with tomatoes."
1) Slice a shallow "X" on the bottom of the tomato. Then submerge the tomato in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Remove and plunge in an ice bath for 30-45 seconds. Remove from the ice bath. The skin should peel off.
2) Freeze the tomato. Remove the tomato from the freezer and let it thaw. Once thawed the skin should slip right off the tomato.