A smooth, ripe, red tomato is firm at the first bite, then softens to reveal the tender inside, followed by a delicious burst of juiciness. The flavor is mysterious; not quite sweet like most fruits, but not quite vegetable either. A tomato at its best is satisfying in any variety, from the more robust beefsteak, to the delicate and delightfully juicy cherry. Each time I cut tomatoes for a recipe, I can't resist a quick taste, rolling the seeds over my tongue and licking the juice from my fingers when the prepping is done.
I prefer to use Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen recipes, which I consider to be the standard for home cooks. They are unfailingly delicious, created with home cooks in mind, and always worth the effort. All Recipes is often my friend, though, rescuing me when the day gets away from me, the demands of baby make a planned meal impossible, or I am simply too tired to tackle whatever I have scheduled. I try to be adaptable and most evenings my pantry staples save me from completely submitting to mundane meals, casseroles, and pre-packaged dinners.
This proved true on three separate occasions over the past month where I, admittedly, had tomatoes on the brain. Red Gold Tomatoes sent me a gift package, with several varieties of canned tomatoes, a recipe book, and a few other goodies. The package arrived serendipitously before a church potluck I'd forgotten to plan for. Sunday morning rolled around and I didn't want to bring dessert or bread yet again, but I lacked the time to create a main dish. I decided to turn to Red Gold's Heartwarming Recipes for the Busy Cook for a bit of inspiration.
Many of the recipes proved simple, but actually depended on processed or canned items I didn't have on hand and lacked time to create substitutes for. I discovered a recipe for Mexican Pasta Salad and decided to use if for inspiration. I scanned my cupboards and mixed together the following to create a hearty salsa, mentally crossing my fingers that it would work:
1 can Red Gold Diced Tomatoes Mexican Fiesta
1 can Red Gold Diced Tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn, microwaved
1 can black beans, drained
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste (be generous)
Served with tortilla chips and a colby jack cheese blend
Cook's Illustrated Chili Mac, a new recent family favorite.
Do you love tomatoes? Are they a pantry staple? What are some of your favorite recipes using tomatoes?
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