Mom cures tomato fatigue with the help of recipes

August 29, 1999|By Rob Kasper

AFTER WEEKS OF picking and eating tomatoes, I am beginning to think I never want to see another one. I am suffering from tomato-fatigue syndrome.

I suspect there are other folks out there who are suffering from this syndrome and who are also seeing red. I bet these folks are staring at mounds of home-grown tomatoes and feeling conflicted. They know that eating fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes is one of the great pleasures of life. But by now they feel pleasured-out.

In July, a bite of plump tomato still warm from the sun sent their taste buds into ecstasy. By late August, the taste of much plumper and more appealing tomatoes can barely arouse a flicker of interest from the same set of buds.

These days, victims of tomato-fatigue syndrome often find themselves feeling guilty as well as tired. If they don't take swift culinary action, the fruits of their harvest can quickly turn from ripe to rotten, leaving the gardeners with a hollow feeling and an unpleasant odor in the house.

They are also tired of serving tomatoes the same old ways.

The other day, after I returned from the garden with a bucket full of tomatoes and a bad bout of tomato fatigue, I realized I needed help. I began searching for new ways to enjoy the company of my old friend, the home-grown tomato. I found several.

A couple of ideas came from my mother. I am not one of those guys who calls his mama every time he feels a little down. Those days are behind me. Now, I only call Mom every other time I need help.

She came through, as moms tend to do. She offered two remedies for my malady. The first was designed to liven up that stalwart of the summer table, a plate of sliced tomatoes. The tomatoes are placed on a bed of sliced onions, then drizzled with a slightly sweet mixture of basil, chives, celery seed, sugar, vinegar and oil.

Mom fed a platter of these tomatoes to my family a few weeks ago when she was visiting. Even though we had already eaten tomatoes for seven straight days, we cleaned the plate.

She also gave me a warm remedy, a tomato-and-cheese casserole. This dish tastes fine in the winter, when you use canned tomatoes, she said. But it is even better in the summer, when you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with.

Sweet Sliced Tomatoes

Serves 4

1 sweet onion, sliced thinly

4 large tomatoes, cut in thick slices

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

pepper to taste

1 teaspoon celery seed

4 basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Cover large platter with onion slices. Place tomato slices on top of onions. Combine oil and vinegar; set aside. Sprinkle remaining ingredients, one at a time, over tomatoes. Then spoon oil-vinegar mixture over tomatoes. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 1 to 6 hours before serving.

Scalloped Tomatoes

Serves 4

4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks

4 slices of toast, cubed, or 1 1/2 cups croutons

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped onion

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese

1 cup cubed Cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix ingredients; place in casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 375-degree oven, until cheese melts, about 15-20 minutes.

Pub Date: 08/29/99

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