The Main Menu: Three great tomato recipes

When I was a kid, my favourite summertime sandwich was a slab of beefsteak tomato on fresh white bread generously spread with mayonnaise. The tomato was sprinkled with salt and fresh black pepper and another slice of bread topped the whole thing off. You cut the sandwich in triangles and devoured it immediately. This simple creation was the perfect combination of slightly sweet, tangy and juicy sensations. The only down side was, you had to eat the sandwich immediately. You could not wrap it and keep it until lunch time; the bread became soggy.

The key to this vivid memory was the vibrant taste of that just picked tomato fresh from the vine. Although a tomato sandwich still has appeal, you can create variations of this theme to enjoy now when our own local tomatoes are in season.

Tomato and Pesto Sandwich
This sandwich calls for two summer ingredients, basil and tomatoes. Once the pesto is made (if you have a quantity of basil, make batches of pesto and freeze it), this sandwich is ready in minutes.
slices Italian or French bread
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) grated mozzarella cheese
4 fresh tomatoes, cut 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
1 cup (250 mL) basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup (125 mL) quality olive oil
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fresh black pepper
Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Arrange bread slices in single layer on baking sheet. In food processor combine basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Spread each slice of bread with about one half the pesto mixture; sprinkle evenly with cheese and arrange tomato slices in single layer on top. Bake sandwiches in oven seven to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If desired, drizzle with any remaining pesto mixture. Leftover pesto freezes well for up to six months. Serve sandwiches immediately with a green salad for lunch or a simple supper.

Tomato Basil Tart
If you have cherry tomato plants, you will have an abundance of cherry tomatoes crying out for this recipe. This quick tart makes a tasty supper with crusty bread and a salad. Any leftover is delicious the next day for lunch.
9 inch (23 cm) ready made pie shell
3 eggs
1 cup (250 mL)
2% evaporated milk or half and half
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup (50 mL) green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
140 g log goat cheese, crumbled
8 large cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded or 16 cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, basil, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and goat cheese. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange tomatoes cup side up in circular pattern evenly in the egg mixture. Bake pie on a baking sheet for 35 to 40 minutes or until filling is set when pan is jiggled. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tomato and Arugula Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs
This is an adaptation of the delicious salad I ate at Rundles in Stratford this summer. If you have heirloom tomatoes, this is an opportunity to use them. Their fine flavour will add to the quality of the salad.
4 cup (1 L) freshly made breadcrumbs, preferably from Italian bread
1/4  cup (50 mL) extra virgin olive oil
4 – 5 local tomatoes, preferably heirloom
4 cups (1 L) arugula or mixed greens
100 g goat cheese cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) rounds
Balsamic Dressing
6 tbsp (1/3 cup ) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/4 tsp ( 1 mL) fresh black pepper
Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Stir in bread crumbs and cook stirring until golden brown, about five minutes. Remove from heat. In mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss greens with just enough dressing to coat; divide greens evenly among four plates. Layer tomato slices and cheese slices alternately on top of greens; drizzle with a little dressing and sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over. Any leftover dressing may be refrigerated for future salads.

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