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The Suburbanite
  • Got tomatoes? Try these tips

  • Summer is short; enjoy all the tomatoes you can while you can.

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  • Out in the garden ahead of the sun, I'm deep in thought, looking for inspiration for deep-summer tomatoes. Because of close quarters in this part of town, my garden has long been a collection of large pots set on my deck.
    This summer, owing to the extreme heat and extreme rains earlier, my tomatoes bombed. I was too lazy, too intimidated by weather to care for them.
    I finally gave up, emptied the pots, and planted geraniums for color. The flowers seem to enjoy the extremes in weather.
    My first planting of basil also suffered, this from a colony of spiders seeking shelter from the weather under the newly hatched leaves. The colony thrived, killing all the basil. Those pots had to be scoured with SOS and boiling water to kill off all the spider egg cases.
    Now my second generation of basil seems to be doing well, enjoying sporadic humidity and sunshine. And my kitchen looks out to a vista like an Italian hill town, alternating pots of geraniums and basil in a neat little parade.
    And since summer refused to make an entrance until August, I've decided to enjoy flopping in the afternoon sun to enjoy the pile of good novels I saved up. I'm relying on the farmers market to provide my summer jewels, a rainbow of garnet, gold and emerald for salads, pasta sauces, pizza toppings and other favorite recipes.
    Summer is short; enjoy all the tomatoes you can while you can.
    So what to do with goodies that I don't need to weed, water and inspect for insects?
    • Chop them with some red onion and toss with fresh or frozen corn kernels, lemon zest, a bit of mayo mixed with lemon juice and fresh, diced lobster meat now that the price is so low. Heap these into those potato flour party rolls.
    • Or starting with the tomato and lobster, add bacon and lettuce, spread some good sandwich bread with mayo for a lobster BLT.
    • Seed and chop tomatoes, then make a quick salad chopping them and adding them to a can of black beans and corn kernels, then toss with some cider vinegar, canola oil and chopped cilantro. If you like those Spanish flavors, sprinkle in a little Spanish paprika or ground cumin. Tuck into soft tortillas for vegetarian wraps, or add sliced chicken or leftover steak if you're a carnivore.
    • Arrange a rainbow of thinly large sliced heirloom tomatoes on a plate; bless with olive oil; top with grilled chicken or grilled skewered shrimp.
    • Make a quick fresh tomato sauce, cooking tomatoes on high heat in a skillet with some olive oil, finely chopped anchovies (don't worry, they dissolve), chopped red onion, capers, and parsley. Cook just until the tomatoes warm through, onions softened, and those nasty little fish dissolve into a salty, ocean flavoring. Toss with rigatoni or ziti. Or pour over a piece of grilled fish like tuna or mackerel.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Cut into chunks to toss with chunks of watermelon, halved strawberries and lemon juice. Sprinkle with coarse ground salt and pepper. Scatter with splashes of limoncello liqueur if the salad is for adults only.
    • Grill with colored bell peppers, violet onions, halved and seeded cukes. Toss with fresh parsley, red wine vinegar, a dash or two of hot sauce. Slide into a small sub roll and sprinkle with olive oil.
    • Or, something new: Sweeten them in a skillet with a little brown sugar to heap onto bruschetta with a mixture of soft, baked cheeses. Recipe below.
    Linda Bassett is the author of "From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston." Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Read Linda's blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.