Tomato recipe winners show versatility

August 28, 2013 

TOMATO132

Top Tomato Ramen

THE WASHINGTON POST

Sure, there’s not much better-tasting that a ripe tomato right off the vine.

But if you’re looking for something more adventurous, consider these contest-winning recipes. Each year, the Washington Post asks readers to submit recipes. The only rule: the number of ingredients can’t exceed 13. This year, a total 144 entries were filed. The top three:

FIRST PLACE: FROZEN FATTOUSH, FROM SARA LEIBMAN:

“As soon as the local red beefsteaks hit the farm stands, I start buying them by the bushel. And while it’s lovely to take a homemade soup or sauce out of the freezer in February, nothing compares to fresh tomatoes in the height of the season.

“The problem is, our family and friends can eat only so many Caprese salads, gazpachos and salsas before rebelling. So my goal has been to come up with a new tomato recipe every year. Sometimes they are delicious, and sometimes they are just ‘interesting.’ This year, I have turned one of my favorite salads — fattoush — into something truly unique.”

3 large tomatoes, cored and chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup coarsely crushed plain baked pita chips

3/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons tahini

6 ounces low-fat plain Greek yogurt

2 Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced

6 ounces fresh feta cheese, diced

Pomegranate molasses, for garnish (may substitute fig balsamic vinegar)

Combine the tomatoes, half of the oil, the lemon juice, half of the pita chips, 1/2 cup of the mint, 1 teaspoon of the oregano and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit until the pita chips and oregano have softened, about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a blender, along with the sugar, tahini and yogurt. Puree until smooth. Press through a fine-mesh strainer into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to a day.

Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of mint. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions to make the frozen fattoush (a sorbet).

Meanwhile, combine the cucumbers, the feta and the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, teaspoon of oregano and teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl, stirring to incorporate. Let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Divide small scoops of the frozen fattoush among individual bowls or dishes. Top each scoop with a few tablespoons of the cucumber-feta mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining crushed pita chips. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Serve right away.

Nutrition: Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful analysis.

SECOND PLACE: TOP TOMATO RAMEN, FROM SANDHYA BABU:

She says she recently ordered a mushroom broth noodle bowl in a local restaurant. It was “dynamite. I began to think on the lines of a tomato broth ramen.”

You’ll need a food mill for this recipe.

For the tofu and mushrooms

2 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into four equal pieces

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 sheets nori (a sheet measures 7 1/2 by 8 inches)

1/4 cup water

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices

For the broth and noodles

2 to 2 1/2 cups water

2 pounds (about 6 medium) ripe red tomatoes, hulled

2 1/2 tablespoons white miso

1 1/2 tablespoons gochujang (fermented Korean chili paste; available at Asian markets)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Dried ramen noodles from two 3-ounce packages (do not use the flavor packets)

2 red radishes, sliced thinly, preferably using a mandoline

A few drops toasted sesame oil, for garnish

For the tofu and mushrooms: Place the tofu in a small bowl.

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 sheet of nori (torn into a few pieces) and the water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then pour half of the mixture over the tofu, which will marinate while you’re making the rest of the dish.

Immediately add the mushrooms to the remaining soy sauce mixture in the saucepan; once the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat; the mushrooms will pickle while you make the broth and cook the noodles.

During this period, turn the tofu over a few times so all sides can absorb the soy sauce mixture in the bowl.

For the broth and noodles: Heat 1/2 cup of the water in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Arrange the tomatoes top side down in the skillet. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes, so the tomatoes soften, using tongs to turn them over halfway through.

Working in batches, transfer the tomatoes and the water in the skillet to a food mill placed inside a large mixing bowl. Process to yield 4 to 4 1/2 cups of liquid. Pour enough of the remaining water through the food mill (extracting more tomato flavor) to yield a total of 6 cups of broth. Discard the solids from the food mill.

Transfer the broth to a large saucepan. Stir in the white miso, gochujang and sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook while you assemble the noodle bowls.

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions (without the flavor packets), making sure the noodles are a bit on the firm side. Drain, and rinse with cool water. Fill the same noodle pot with a few inches of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, place a piece of the pickled tofu in each individual bowl, discarding any remaining marinade. Add equal portions of radish slices, then pour equal amounts of broth in each bowl.

Use tongs to briefly dip the cooked ramen noodles into the boiling water to warm them up, then divide them among the bowls of broth, arranging them on one side of each bowl.

Strain the pickled mushrooms and arrange them on the opposite side of each bowl, discarding the nori and reserving the strained marinade. Add a drop or two of sesame oil to each bowl, stirring it in.

Fold the remaining nori sheet in half. Use scissors to cut it into thin strips, then divide them evenly among the bowls.

Serve hot, with the reserved strained marinade on the side.

Nutrition: Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful analysis.

THIRD PLACE: MAMA’S TOMATO PRESERVES, FROM FRANCES O. PYLES:

“This is a family recipe, passed down in my family for years.” Using yellow tomatoes and lemons makes for a sweet-tart, sunny condiment.

Make ahead: The preserves can be frozen in freezer-safe zip-top bags for up to 3 months. If you use yellow tomatoes, we do not recommend water-bath canning (due to reduced acidity).

About 9 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes (about 15 large; may substitute red ripe tomatoes or a combination of yellow and red)

3 large lemons, seeded and cut crosswise into very thin slices

4 cups sugar

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Score an X in the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches, drop them into the boiling water to loosen the skins. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins.

Place a flexible cutting board inside a rimmed baking sheet; this will help corral the tomatoes and their juices. Chop the peeled tomatoes into small pieces (including the gel and seeds) and transfer to a large colander seated inside a mixing bowl. Press on the tomato pulp to extract as much juice as possible; reserve the juice, if desired, for another use. There should be about 8 cups of pulp.

Transfer the pulp to a large pot along with the seeded lemon slices. Cook (uncovered) over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally; the lemon slices should be quite soft. Stir in the sugar, making sure it has dissolved. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes; the preserves may be a little loose.

Cool completely, then transfer to zip-top bags for freezing, pressing to extract as much air as possible before sealing.

Nutrition per tablespoon (based on 9 cups): 25 calories, 0 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar

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