Three tasty ways to use fresh tomatoes

August 28, 2009 11:46:08 AM PDT
Tomatoes are everywhere this time of year, from gardens, to farmer's markets, and of course, on restaurant menus. ABC7's Hungry Hound is looking for a delicious way to use them up. We've got Labor Day coming up next weekend, and of course football season is right around the corner, so there will be plenty of opportunities to have a picnic or tailgate. That's where tomatoes come in. We sought some professional advice -- from a chef and Bears fan -- to see how you can harness that abundance into three delicious items.

This time of year, kitchens are bursting with tomatoes. To show how you can harness some of that abundance in anticipation of tailgating season, we asked Kevin Hickey for some tips. As Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel, he works with all sorts of tomatoes, from the most basic to the much rarer heirloom varieties.

"Hopefully it's at the end of the season so the tomato is at its peak. You don't want to do a whole lot to it to cover up the flavor of the tomato," said Hickey.

One great suggestion: make soup. He uses both golden tomatoes as well as standard reds, cooking them with some sliced onions, fresh thyme and a little bit of white wine. Once pureed, he adds fancy garnishes like shrimp toast or tofu tempura, but obviously you could just serve the soup without them.

"I think soup's a great way to go, whether it's red tomatoes, golden tomatoes, or green tomatoes. We make soup make it completely, puree it, strain it, whatever you're going to do with it, package it and freeze it," Hickey said.

Another option, throw some tomatoes and jalapenos onto the grill or under the broiler, and then pop them in a blender, along with some fresh lime juice and salt. The result? A smoky, earthy salsa that soars well above most store-bought brands.

"I like the flavor of the roasted salsa. Also, the method that we use for the salsa makes it so it has a real fresh taste, like a pico de gallo, but it will hold. So you can make this salsa, you can package it and freeze it. And then pull it out and it's got a great flavor," said Hickey.

Finally, ketchup. Yes, Hickey says that all-American condiment is a cinch to make with leftover tomatoes and a few other readily available items from your pantry.

"It's a flavor like you've never had. Because most ketchups are full of sugar, and all kinds of additives and preservatives and things that mask the flavor. You make a fresh ketchup, and really, the flavor just shines through," Hickey said.

Seasons at Four Seasons Hotel
120 E. Delaware Pl.
312-280-8800

Red Tomato Soup
4 Ripe Red Tomatoes, chopped (leftover Brandywine if possible)
2 Shallots, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
Olive Oil 1T
1 sprig Basil
4 oz Rose Wine
Salt and White Pepper to taste

Sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add wine and reduce by half. Add basil and cover tomatoes with water. Cook for 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Cool slightly and blend in a high powered blender. Adjust seasoning.

Yellow Tomato Soup
4 Ripe Yellow Tomatoes, chopped (leftover lemony if possible)
2 Shallots, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 sprig Tarragon
4 oz. White Wine
Salt and White Pepper to taste

Sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add wine and reduce by half. Add tarragon and cover tomatoes with water. Cook for 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Cool slightly and blend in a high powered blender. Adjust seasoning.

Green Tomato Soup
4 Ripe Green Tomatoes, chopped (leftover green zebra if possible)
2 Shallots, chopped
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 sprig Thai Basil
4 oz. Plum Wine
Salt and White Pepper to taste

Sweat the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add wine and reduce by half. Add Thai basil and cover tomatoes with water. Cook for 45 minutes on low to medium heat. Cool slightly and blend in a high powered blender. Adjust seasoning.

Grilled Tomato Salsa
8 Ripe Red Tomatoes, halved
1 Yellow Onion, halved
1 Jalapeno, whole
1/2 bunch Cilantro
2 Limes
Salt, pepper

1. On an open flame, grill tomatoes, onions and peppers until soft and charred all over
2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree
3. Adjust seasoning

Homemade Balsamic Ketchup
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and julienne
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
4 oz. bourbon
1-28 oz. can tomato puree
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground star anise
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. each: ground allspice, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

1. Caramelize onions, add garlic, tomato paste, sugar and all the spices, get a little color on the whole mixture and then add bourbon and vinegar. Reduce and add the tomato puree. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, pass thru a fine sieve if your blender is not powerful enough to make the mixture smooth.
2. Transfer to a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 month.


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