Savor the seasonal flavor of tomatoes

There’s nothing like a New Jersey tomato — and their season just began.

A local treat: Jersey tomatoes are in season and absolutely delicious.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit;

Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

— Anon.

There’s nothing like a Jersey tomato. And happily, their season is just beginning. They are wonderful on their own, just sliced with a little salt — seasonal and delicious.

Canned tomatoes are useful over the winter months, and can be substituted in the following recipes. For each 1 and 1/3 cups fresh cut-up tomatoes, substitute 1 cup of canned tomatoes. To peel tomatoes, dip them in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them and cut out the stem. Pull off the skin with a knife. Chill.

While fresh tomatoes are in season, here are a few tomato recipes to try.

TOMATO SALAD VINAIGRETTE

3–4 tomatoes (about 1½ lbs.), halved and cut into thick slices

½ cup chopped scallions, plus some of the greens

½ cup olive oil

3 Tbsp. wine vinegar

2 tsp. oregano leaves

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. dry mustard

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp. parsley, minced

4 cups iceberg or romaine lettuce, cut coarse

Put the tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the onions, oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic and parsley, and pour over the tomatoes.

Cover bowl, refrigerate and marinate.

When ready to serve, add lettuce, mix, and serve immediately.

TOMATO RELISH

1 lb. ripe tomatoes (about 3)

1 small green pepper, seeded and minced

½ cup celery, small diced

1 Tbsp. onion, minced

1½ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

½ cup cold water.

Peel tomatoes. Dice into ½-inch pieces, and put in bowl.

Add remainder of the ingredients. Chill well, and then drain.

Good with burgers, fish and poultry.

STEWED TOMATOES

2¼ tsp. sugar

4 tsp. flour

2½ cups quartered, peeled tomatoes

1 Tbsp. minced onion

1 tsp. salt

4 tsp. butter

Pepper to taste

In a medium pot, mix sugar and flour.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.

BROILED TOMATOES

4 ripe medium tomatoes

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. grated onions

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and Pepper

3 Tbsp. bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. butter, softened

Wash, cut out stem end, and cut tomatoes in halves crosswise.

Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, in baking pan.

Spread halves with mustard, sprinkle evenly with grated onion and Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper each half lightly.

Mix together the bread crumbs and butter, and evenly distribute over the tomato halves.

Broil a few minutes until nicely browned.

Great as a side dish with meats, fish or an omelet

OR, serve with the following cheese sauce, bacon (cooked), spinach and mushrooms over toast.

TOAST

8 slices

CHEESE SAUCE

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. flour

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 cup milk

¾ cup shredded sharp, white cheese

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, salt and pepper, stirring over medium-low heat until blended and smooth.

Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened.

Add the cheese, cooking and stirring until cheese melts.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM TOPPING

1 10 oz. frozen cut-leaf spinach

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. onion, chopped

½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

Dash of coriander or nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

In a microwavable range-top dish, cook spinach, drain (squeeze out water).

Set aside.

Melt butter, using the same dish on the range, and saute onions until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender.

Add the drained spinach to the mushrooms, along with the coriander, salt and pepper and stir.

BACON

½ lb. cooked and drained. Set aside.

Assemble: On each piece of toast, arrange a broiled tomato, cheese sauce, spinach and mushrooms, topped with a bacon slice (or two). Divide all ingredients evenly among the 8 slices of toast.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

Don’t forget:

Send in your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 ShopRite gift card. Mail your recipe to Readers’ Recipes, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com. Please include name, address and telephone number.