What's in Season? Tomatoes!
● By Style
Do you say tuh-may-toh or tuh-mah-to?Do you consider tomatoes fruits or vegetables? It doesn’t really matter—all that’s important is tomatoes taste delicious and are incredibly nutritious. Most people consider the tomato to be a fruit because of its pulp content and edible seeds. On the other hand, the tomato’s savory flavor causes others to believe it’s a part of the vegetable family.
SELECTION AND STORAGETo select the best tomatoes, your nose is your best guide. Smell the blossom end, as opposed to the stem, to make your decision. If you notice a rich, succulent aroma, pick it! Next, use your eyes to identify if the tomato is round and full without bruises, blemishes or shriveled skin. While many fruits and vegetables fare better in the cool environment of a refrigerator, tomatoes do not; storing tomatoes in your refrigerator will mask the marvelous flavor of this summer treat. If you must refrigerate, make sure to remove it at least an hour before using so it returns to room temperature and optimal flavor.
— Susan Belknap
For details on where to buy Placer County farm-fresh produce, wine, meat and local products, visit placergrown.org.
DID YOU KNOW?Whether red, yellow, orange or green, tomatoes contain lycopene, which researchers have learned has a connection to bone health. Eating tomatoes may reduce the effects of osteoporosis, as well as lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. In 1519, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés discovered tomatoes and returned with them to Europe, where they were planted as an ornamental plant, but not eaten. Due to their bright and shiny skin, many people believed tomatoes were poisonous. Tomatoes are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. This time of year, the heirloom varieties are especially popular at local farmers’ markets and can be tossed in a salad, roasted in pasta dishes, or enjoyed directly picked from the garden. In addition, tomatoes are a perfect pairing with beef. Find a delicious recipe for grilled steak with tomatoes and blue cheese below.
HOW TO PAIR WITH WINE
PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald’s grilled steak recipe with blue cheese and grilled tomatoes is a perfect match for a velvety, full-flavored Foothill Cabernet Sauvignon, which is known for having more fruit and a bit of black pepper spice to its finish. Local bottles are available at Le Casque Winery, Secret Ravine Vineyards and Lone Buffalo Vineyards. For more details, visit placerwine.com.
Grilled Steak with Tomatoes and Blue Cheese
Recipe by PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald
- 6 New York strip steaks or rib-eye steaks
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tbsp. red wine
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 4 ounces salty blue cheese, such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Roquefort
- 1 small red onion or torpedo onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Marinate the steaks 2 hours ahead of cook time. In a large Ziploc bag, place ½ cup olive oil, 3 cloves smashed garlic, the sliced shallot, 2 sprigs rosemary and 2 tbsp. red wine. Add the steaks and refrigerate for 2 hours to marinate. Preheat the grill. Brush the red onion slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill onions until slightly softened and caramelized, for approximately 1 minute on each side. On a large platter, spread the tomato slices in a shingled pattern. Crumble the blue cheese evenly on top, and then layer the grilled red onion on top of the cheese. Crush the basil leaves and sprinkle over the platter to garnish. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while grilling the steaks. Remove the steaks from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill to desired completion, and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve alongside the tomato platter. Serves 6.