My favorite vegetable any time of the year is a ripe and juicy tomato. It has to be a home grown and vine ripe tomato; not the grocery store variety which has been picked early and shipped a long distance. Here’s a savory stewed tomato recipe that I’ve made many times and perfected over the past year. I use both fresh Louisiana Creole tomatoes as well as canned tomatoes and added a few other ingredients for a savory flavor.
I love fresh tomatoes — I was spoiled when growing up; my parents had a large garden full of tomatoes. There is no comparison between a vine ripe tomato and one that’s been grown mainly to withstand picking and transport to a grocery store. But you can’t find ripe tomatoes all year around; so my recipe compromises and uses both fresh and canned tomatoes.
Creole tomatoes and beyond
The Creole tomato is the prized tomato of many New Orleans’ chefs. But the seed crop was never standardized and commercialized. Some garden centers still carry Creole tomato seedlings; but gradually other and better varieties of tomatoes have been developed. It doesn’t really matter, as long as the tomato is juicy and flavorful.
Growing Tomatoes in a Louisiana Garden
I have never been successful at growing tomatoes in my garden. I do better planting them in large pots with sterile soil–the pots require a lot of water and attention. A neighbor down the street does quite well growing tomatoes, The key to his success is planting the crop by the street so the tomatoes get plenty of sunlight and drainage. (Both problems in my backyard.)
Tomato Sleuth for Local Tomatoes
You have to be sort of a sleuth to find the best tomato. I was disappointed that the fresh produce market I shop at sold Creole tomatoes imported from Florida.
But I found a better source. Friends and I were driving about 20 miles out of town after a music gig; we passed by a large field of tomatoes and a shed which we thought must be a road side stand. Of course, we stopped. But alas, the tomatoes weren’t for sale; it was the packing barn for the commercial farmer, Luckett Farms — the same folks that provided our Community Supported Agricultural baskets.They weren’t selling the tomatoes. How tempting was it to ask for “just a few?” Did we?
I have found that the best approach is to check locally owned grocery stores for tomatoes. Calvin’s Market sales tomatoes from a local grower, Naquin’s Farms. So for a few brief weeks, I can purchase all the tomatoes I can eat. The tomatoes ripen nicely on my kitchen table for several days becoming very juicy and flavorful.
Nutritional Value of Tomatoes, Update on Prostrate Cancer Research
The tomato is the second most widely eaten vegetable in the United States. It is a very nutritious vegetable, high in both Vitamin C and Vitamin A (carotene). The red pigment is high in the phytochemical and antioxidant, lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant which may prevent DNA cell destruction and may help prevent or slow cancer cell metastasis.
The antioxidant lycopene, has been related to lower risk of many cancers, especially prostrate cancer. Diets high in carotene are associated with lower risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and lungs.
However, current research concludes that the association between tomatoes and prostrate cancer isn’t as strong as it once seemed. “The 2014 Continuous Update Project report on prostate cancer analyzed the global literature, including new and updated studies, it concluded that the evidence is too inconsistent to make a conclusion.” Prostrate cancer is often a very slow growing cancer and it is difficult to connect all the relationships.
Stewed Creole Tomatoe Recipe
My recipe for stewed tomatoes has the flavor of tomatoes and other vegetables for a savory dish. It can be made any time of the year; in fact I started out making a recipe using canned tomatoes for the wintertime. This recipe uses fresh tomatoes as well as onions, celery, basil and parsley (not shown). It includes a bread crumb topping. I’ve made this recipe over and over and finally have a version that I could eat all day long.
This recipe is easy to make. Here are several tips.
- Saute the onions first in a little oil so that they lose their raw taste. I include lots of onions!
- Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for several minutes and then dip them in ice water so the skins peel and slip off easily. Then cut the tomatoes in eighths.
- Diced canned tomatoes are used in the recipe. This adds juice and tomato flavor.
- For a savory flavor, in addition to onions, I add celery — the stalks and leaves — parsley and basil.
- For seasonings, I add Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, just a little white pepper and sugar. Traditional Southern recipes use quite a bit of sugar; this recipe is very sweet! I don’t care for stewed tomatoes which are too sweet and cut down on the sugar–but a little is necessary to balance the “acid” taste of the tomatoes.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for a hour.
- Then remove the foil and add a bread crumb topping. I have used both commercial bread crumbs and I have made my own croutons from left-over French bread. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes.
Here is left-over French bread which I used to make homemade croutons for a topping.
This is a great recipe; a savory tomato dish. Enjoy!
Stewed Creole Tomatoes
- 3 ripe medium-large Creole or other ripe tomatoes (1-14.5 can whole peeled plum tomatoes with juice may be substituted)
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 large white onion, quartered and cut into slices
- 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 stalk celery with leaves, diced
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp Worchestchire sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar (or more if you like sweet stewed tomatoes)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 2 Tbsp margarine, melted
- 1-1/2 cup Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
Method and Steps
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9×9″ casserole dish.
- To blanch and peel tomatoes, first bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add the tomatoes and boil for 3 minutes. Occasional turn to make sure all sides of tomatoes are submerged. Remove tomatoes, dip in ice water. When cool enough to handle, remove skins — they should slide off. Set tomatoes aside.
- Add oil to skillet and heat to medium high. Add onion slices, stir and saute for about 5 minutes until onions begin to turn translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add canned tomatoes with the juice to oiled casserole dish.
- Add in sauteed onions, celery, fresh parsley and stir.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, sugar, dried basil, salt, garlic powder and white pepper to casserole and stir to combine.
- Remove the cores of blanched, peeled tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in eighths. Add to the casserole and stir to combine them in.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
- Remove casserole from oven and remove foil. Combine margarine and bread crumbs. Spread over casserole.
- Return casserole to oven, uncovered, and bake 15 additional minutes.
http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/tomatoes.html#intro American Institute of Cancer Research. “Foods that fight cancer – Tomatoes”