I don’t know who exactly creates these “national” food holidays, but according to but according to www.food.com today is National Fresh Tomato Day. I mean really, April 6? Today is Fresh Tomato Day? At least in Kansas and I suspect in many other places, there are no real vine ripened tomatoes on the horizon for two or three months. Most tomatoes in the grocery store taste like cardboard.
Having said that , last year I discovered some tomatoes that at least make the wait for the vine ripened ones tolerable. They are grown locally and hydroponically. It is grown by Cheney Lake Tomatoes and they grow large slicing tomatoes, red and yellow, small cluster tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. The reason why I love them is not just that they are local, they look like this:
Is that not beautiful? Sliced it makes a beautiful BLT, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. However, yesterday, I had a hankering for something that always tastes like spring to me: pan con tomatoe. It is a spanish dish, that is basically tomatoes on bread. I purchased the tomatoes in the Kansas Grown Market (first day they were open for the season.) I also bought bread from one of my favorite bakers, they use local wheat and their bread reminds me of the bread I used to eat in Europe. Crust and Crumb was the perfect bread for the pan con tomatoe.
So the first thing to do, is slice some baguette and slice the tomato in half. That baguette slices will be either toasted or grilled. I grilled mine at the same time I was grilling chicken for our spinach salad. Then you grate…yes, grate the tomato with the biggest “holed” grater you have. If you have an old fashioned box grater, perfect. The largest tomato you can find, like this slicer is easier to use. You grate the meat of the tomato the skin stays behind.
Once the tomato is grated, then grill the bread and use a halved garlic clove to rub over the hot bread. You will then drizzle with good olive oil.
Top with the tomato pulp and a sprinkle with salt. Eat and enjoy! This is one of the BEST ways to enjoy a really good, really ripe tomato.
In Spain it’s served as a light side dish, but whenever it is served, it is delicious. As I said earlier, these tomatoes are not vine ripened, but oh, they work until late June and early July when you can pick your own or the market is filled with them.
For dinner, I served this with a spinach/lettuce/herb salad topped with grilled chicken. The lettuce and herbs were from the “garden” on my glassed front porch. Topped with granny smith apples, some cranraisins and a shaving of aged gouda, this salad with the grilled chicken and the pan can tomatoe was a perfect way to begin to feel like spring had sprung.
So, for a food “holiday” that seems a bit early in the season, if you can find some ripe, wonderful tomatoes, this is a great way to celebrate! Happy Fresh Tomato Day!