Happy tomato season! Yes, it’s that time of year again when there seems to be an abundance of tomatoes; in fact, they’re practically rolling off the farmers market stands and produce shelves.
And while nothing beats an “August special” (i.e., tomatoes on bread with salt and mayo), there are plenty of other things to do with the late summer fruit. Try canning your tomatoes, making a tomato jam (perfect on a grilled cheese sandwich) or even creating a fresh tomato sauce to go over pasta, fish or meat.
Heirloom Tomato, Zucchini and Parmesan Panade
If you are looking for something a little more rustic and hearty, try this simple and delicious heirloom tomato, zucchini and Parmesan panade. A panade is a traditional Provencal casserole made of stale bread, any filler and a broth. It bakes slowly and becomes super moist on the inside and crispy on the top (usually due to a final layer of cheese).
This version incorporates the season’s freshest produce with crusty bread and warm, salty Parmesan cheese. It’s easy to throw together and takes roughly an hour to bake in the oven — which is the perfect amount of time to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the final days of summer with friends.
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 loaf of crunchy bread, sliced to fit and layer in a casserole dish – I used a Tuscan loaf
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 cup plus 4 tbsp of mushroom broth – I used the Pacific Organics brand
- 1/2 pound of shaved Parmesan cheese
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a pan, over medium heat, sauté the onion with 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil until the onion softens and is slightly translucent.
- Add in the zucchini and the garlic and continue to sauté until the zucchini is cooked (roughly 7 to 10 minutes).
- Add in a pinch of sea salt to taste and 4 Tbsp of the mushroom broth. Continue to cook until the liquid cooks down, then remove the pan from heat.
- In a buttered casserole dish, put down a layer of the bread, overlapping and cutting the slices to fit the dish. Next, add a layer of heirloom tomatoes and then a layer of the zucchini and onion mixture. Top the vegetable layers off with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese. Continue to layer the ingredients in this order. (I was able to do two complete layers.)
- Once the final layer is complete, pour 1 cup of the mushroom broth over the casserole and push the ingredients down with a spatula.
- Cover the dish (with foil or a casserole cover) and bake for about an hour, until bubbly. After an hour, uncover the dish, add another layer of cheese, and continue to bake until the cheese and the top layer browns.
- Serve and eat!
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her on Twitter at @frijolita or at her food blog, One Bite At A Time.
I know. You think I’m talking about the heat. But I’m talking about tomatoes. We are slowly rolling into the peak of tomato season here in DC and we’ll all be better for it. Cherry tomatoes, Romas, Heirlooms, Beefsteaks, Red Slicers — you name it they’re out there or they will be soon!
Some quick business before we dive right in: FreshFarm Markets (Dupont is one of them) would like you to take a survey about their newsletter, if you receive it. Looks like they want to make sure you actually find it useful!
Tomatoes By the Boxfull
Also: Let’s say you’re going tomato crazy (you canners, I know you’re out there) and you want to buy the juicy reds in bulk, Robin Shuster of 14 & U Farmers Market has a sale for you! Garner’s Produce is starting their annual sale on 25-pound boxes of field tomatoes. The perfect Primo Reds are $20 a box and the second is $15 a box (that’s 60 to 80 cents a pound!). Email to reserve your box(es) and mention which market will be your pickup (14th and U or Bloomingdale market on Sunday) to [email protected]
Sliced, Diced, Roasted, Canned, Grilled
What to do with a 25 pound box of tomatoes? Well, my favorite preparations include: