I am a horrific snob when it comes to tomatoes. God forbid some chef put a "fresh" tomato in any dish during the Winter. My usual reaction is to snarl up my face like a three year old smelling rancid milk. I always ask for "no tomato" unless Summer has started. Call me crazy, but I think its a great rule to have. Seasonal fruits and veggies make all the difference in the world. A gorgeous range of tomatoes start hitting the farmers markets around June and they just keep on getting better as the days get longer. Towards the end of Summer, they get sweet and spicy not to mention fruity and plump. Grilling (or frying) up not yet ripe green tomatoes lend a tangy and earthy hand to a sandwich. On every menu during the Summer throughout the Catalan region of Spain, you will find Pan Con Tomaté, a crispy olive oil grilled piece of crusty bread rubbed with their special plum tomatoes. Places where the growing seasons are shorter and nights are cooler the tomatoes are almost sugary and so amazing canned or jarred. Here are some simple tomato tips to make you just as stuck up about tomatoes as I am.
- If you MUST buy canned (its fine, really) and you haven't jarred your own, try to find San Marzano imported from Italy. Its best to get them whole too. Trust me on this. They are grown to perfection under strict and specific rules. Same premise of say French Champagne as opposed to California sparking wine. They even have a DOP or a stamp verifying its origin (Denomination d" Origine Protetta). Hands down, the best tomatoes for your Sunday night sauce!
- Tomatoes (the bigger ones) should feel hefty in your hand. This basically means a firmer flesh, and had been farmed in idea conditions. Smaller tomatoes should have tight skin (not wrinkled) and should "pop" in your mouth. I always sample (just one, folks!) if I am grocery shopping. If it doesn't pop with juice when you bite into it, move on.
- When slicing the tomato, use a very, very sharp knife. It prevents all the juices from squishing out onto your cutting board. I've found a ceramic knife to be good.
- Salt your tomatoes right before serving. A good healthy pinch of kosher or sea salt is great.