Bringing summer fruits to the table is not only a savory and healthy way to eat, but it's a wonderful way to bring the outdoors into your kitchen for summer color and flavor. My favorite August fruit... a Beefsteak Tomato, technically a fruit, but mostly prepared and eaten like a vegetable.
Today, the first of my food columns for Dix Hills Patch, is about eating simple, fresh and healthy, especially for those Moms (and Dads) with an on-the-go fast-paced lifestyle. Preparing healthy food the whole family likes is often difficult, but it's important to keep trying and exposing kids to a healthy way of eating, while making it enjoyable and tasty.
The cookies and chips can be part of our food repertoire, but in moderation, helping our kids to make good choices. What you eat is the biggest indicator of how they will eat as they grow into adults.
So, what is a Beefsteak Tomato?
Beefsteak Tomatoes are a cultivated tomato--pink or red with pronounced ribbing--often weighing as much as one pound. They are meant to be eaten raw, sliced, or plain with a little salt. White Post Farms carries beautiful Long Island Beefsteaks from Sep's Farms in East Marion.
I haven't yet been able to find any local Beefsteaks in the supermarkets or Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's does carry delicious Heirloom Tomatoes in an assorted box. 2009 was a blight-stricken year for tomatoes, but in 2010 they're back with a vengeance.
When buying tomatoes to be eaten raw, be sure they are very firm. Make sure never to store them in the refrigerator and try to eat them within a few days. For most recipes you'll need at least four large tomatoes.
Insalata Caprese is one of the most simple and fragrant summer salads. Now is the time to make it; just make sure you have good quality ingredients.
If you don't have the mozzarella or don't want the calories, sprinkle with a little feta or goat cheese or leave out the cheese and make it with red onion. If you don't have the basil you can use arugula or capers (the small ones). Sometimes I throw some avocado on top which my kids love and serve it with a fresh baguette to dip into the yummy mix of the tomato, olive oil and balsamic juices.
If your a little more adventurous then try this simple and delicious Tomato-Peach Salad I recently made for a party, which I found on the Food Network website. I used lemon juice instead of cider vinegar with the olive oil to dress the salad.
Farm-To-Table is a sustainable food movement that emphasizes shortening the chain from the farmer to your table, by eating local seasonal food and supporting our local farmers. So enjoy these local Long Island Beefsteaks as this beautiful summer draws to a close.
Insalata Caprese Salad:
Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Plate
1/2 pound fresh
mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Coarse salt to taste*
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a circular design around the side of a serving plate, alternate fresh mozzarella slices on a large platter (or on individual plates if you are doing individual portions) with sliced tomatoes, overlapping for effect.
Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle capers over the top.
Just before serving, drizzle on some top-quality extra-virgin olive oil. NOTE: Insalata Caprese should never be allowed to sit in oil for any length of time and become soggy, and no vinegar of any kind goes on true Insalata Caprese!
Makes 4 servings.
(from the Food Network)
Toss tomato and peach wedges with red onion slices. Drizzle with cider vinegar and olive oil; season with sugar, salt and pepper.