This week, Chef Geo Soul shares how her love for tomatoes originated and why they are a necessity in almost every recipe she creates. Her panzanella salad is easy to make and is a perfect way to impress guests.
As always, this culinary artist does more than just list off ingredients, but she looks within to let readers know why she chooses those ingredients. Geo Soul lets her inspiration lead her in the kitchen. Here’s what she had to say…
Like most people, when I go grocery shopping, I have a staple list. The produce section of my list always starts off with the tomatoes, followed then by bell peppers, and after that, onions. The list goes on. Even as I’m writing this, I am trying to figure out why the tomato always comes to my mind first. The only reason I can think of is that when money is slim, I want to buy what I really like first. I love the versatility of the tomato as a star of a dish, as the partner to a dish, or as a background flavor note to the tastes I usually want to create.
The tomato in any dish always plays its position well. I love the sweet, acidic, rich, meaty taste of the tomato. Thinking back, as I always do when writing about my love of food, I think back to when I met a particular food. Have I always liked a particular food? When did I first begin to like or love a particular food? Who around me loves it even more than I do? Can I live without a particular food? And all the other questions you may have when you really like something or someone, swarms around in my mind.
I’ve always loved the tomato. I can remember as a small child my Aunt Eugetta would dice one up, sprinkle it with a little sugar and add a little vinegar. It would accompany meals and I would truly enjoy it.
My son, on the other hand, fell in love with the tomato a little differently. He was about 10-months-old and I had put him in the shopping cart at the local Kroger grocery store. I was picking through the tomatoes, looking for the right size, no bruising, correct firmness, price checking, weighing etc. (I must add that shopping has always been therapeutic for me. It relaxes me, so I dislike rushing when food shopping.)
I knew that my son was a ‘chilled-out’ baby, but after he was quiet for too long, I noticed that he had grabbed a carton of cherry tomatoes and stuffed quite a few into his mouth. I hadn’t even realized. I freaked out because they hadn’t been washed, plus he was covered in tomato juice. After grabbing the container from him, I cleaned him up and tried calming myself down, praying he wouldn’t get sick from eating the unwashed tomatoes. As I dealt with him crying, I realized that he liked tomatoes in their purest form.
I began to think, “Wow, a healthily snack!” As a result of this realization, they were added to my staple list. I always suggest tomatoes to friends when they have finicky little eaters because I believe the bright red color is captivates children and holds their attention.
You will find that tomatoes usually grow fast and are plentiful during the summer months. They flourish from the sun’s warmth. If you are a novice culinary participant and/or gardener, you might find that tomatoes are fairly easy to grow in your garden, yard, patio or porch.
Before they become red, there’s nothing like some fried green tomatoes, or spicy tomato chutney. If gardening isn’t your thing, there are lots of local farmers that would love to sell you some from their prize crop.
Now, I can’t end this narrative without making mention of all the healthy attributes of the tomato.
They are packed with lots of special nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and K. They also have foliate, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and Lycopene– a powerful antioxidant. Unlike the nutrients in most fresh fruits, tomatoes have an even greater bioavailability after cooking and processing.
Some of the benefits include:
1. Controls weight
2. Reduces chronic pain
3. Supports bone health
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
5. Promotes sound sleep
6. Improves vision health
7. Helps with Hair Growth
8. Fights against Infection
So with all that being said, how about getting some of this summer savory fruit and trying a wonderful…
1 1⁄2 lbs of tomato (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 loaf of French bread (cut into 1-inch cubes/lightly toasted)
1⁄2 small Red Onion (cut in half and cut into thin slices)
1⁄2 oz Basil (coarsely chopped)
4 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 oz Red Wine Vinegar
1⁄2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1⁄2 tsp. Minced Garlic
TT (To Taste) – Kosher Salt/Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together
2. In large bowl mix all ingredients together
3. Add vinaigrette to large bowl and toss to mix
4. Allow to stand 30min to 1hr to absorb and blend flavors
5. Serve and enjoy
Click HERE for her fresh, homemade yeast roles’ recipe.
Edited by Andrea V. Watson