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new season....of tomatoes!

new season....of tomatoes!

Just back to a new season, with tomatoes...

I've been away from home, in California for two weeks, and came back to a delivery from my favorite farmers, the Innocenti brothers, featuring a new season of produce.  In addition to beets, cucumbers, spring onions, zucchini with flowers and basil, which were previously available, I was thrilled with new entry pears, apricots, tiny green beans and a vine-ripened cantaloupe.  But most exciting were the season's first riccio fiorentino tomatoes.  Welcome back!

I made tomato sauce for spaghetti "al pomodoro", something I always need when I get home.  Grated the Parmigiano.  Sliced zucchini (just-picked with female flowers attached) lengthwise into quarters and sautéed them in extra virgin, boiled green beans (and saved the water to cook pasta in), and boiled, peeled and sliced beets.  And made a tomato, cucumber and onion salad-recipe below.    As usual, my husband Massimo made the spaghetti with my sauce, perfectly al dente.  Here's the menu from my welcome home, welcome summer dinner.  We drank Bucci Verdicchio.

Fettunta-Tuscan garlic bread
Spaghetti with tomato sauce, basil and Parmigiano
Zucchini and her flowers, sautéed in extra virgin, topped with chopped basil
Tomato, cucumber and red onion salad-recipe below
Green beans with extra virgin
Beets with Villa Manodori balsamico and extra virgin
Pecorino and pears
Apricots, served in a glass bowl of water


Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad

1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes (from garden or farmers market)
4 tablespoons finest quality extra virgin olive oil (I use Castello di Ama)
sea salt
fresh pepper
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, ripped or coarsely chopped
2 cucumbers (optional) Note: if cucumbers aren't fresh and local skip them
1 medium sized red onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1.      Sharpen your knife.  If you don't have a really sharp blade, use a cheapo Ginsu-type knife.
2.     Slice tomatoes in half through the core.  Remove the core, leaving only the red flesh of the tomatoes.
3.     Squeeze tomatoes over a sieve into a serving bowl to remove seeds and juice.  Press seeds over the bowl to extract all juice. 
4.     Cut tomatoes into pieces and add to juice in serving bowl.  Dress with extra virgin, sea salt, pepper and basil.
5.     Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise, remove seeds (with pointy end of potato peeler), cut into bite-sized pieces, season lightly with salt and place in a bowl for at least 10 minutes.
6.     Marinate onion with vinegar and a pinch of sea salt for at least 10 minutes.
7.      Drain cucumbers and add to tomatoes along with onions and their vinegar. 
8.      Serve with bread to soak up juices, scarpetta-style.  Or slice bread and top with tomato salad and juice.

-July 2010 link to article published in  The Atlantic Magazine

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