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Tomato Festival (July 30, 2004)

Oh, yes, at last. Lush, vine-ripened, sun-warmed, fat, juicy, ready-to-burst tomatoes are finally starting to appear in farmer's markets, or perhaps your own garden. Suddenly they're everywhere, and while to our mind nothing beats a perfectly ripe open-faced tomato sandwich, there are a zillion other delicious possibilities.

Just in time comes The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander and a feast of great recipes from Foodland Ontario. Oh, yum, let's take a look!

The Tomato Festival Cookbook celebrates the comeback of heirloom tomatoes, Pink Brandywine, Eva Purple Ball, Red Ponderosa, Indian Moon and a dozen other wonderful varieties. You'll be finding your favourites as the season unfolds, and want to try some fabulous recipes from such great chefs as Deborah Madison, Rick Bayless, Alice Waters, Toronto chef-owner Massimo Capra of Mistura and even Upper Canada Seeds owner David Ackerman.

Tomato Pancakes or Tomato Dumplings, anyone? Cocktails with a Spiced Tomato and Chickpea Dip sounds our cup of tea, and we've simply got to try that Fresh Rainbow Salsa while preserving a pot full of tangy Tomato, Orange and Ginger Chutney.

There are dozens more, and we know this is a cookbook that will soon take on the patina and stickiness of your best loved and most useful food reference books.

It's not surprising, really, for Lawrence Davis-Hollander has a degree in ethnobotany and is the founder and director of the Eastern Native Seed Conservancy, which encourages gardeners to rediscover heirloom plants. Thank you, Lawrence!

Here at home, Foodland Ontario always has the best bounty of the season, and with perfect timing has given us a Mexican Feast with Ontario sweet corn and field tomatoes. You'll love these fresh, easy ideas and, if you're like us, will add them to your weeknight favourites!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (67 KB)


Tomato Salmon Bisque

We fell in love with The Tomato Festival Cookbook's delicious year-round soup. It's pretty, it's easy and yet elegant, and it's not a soup you have every week. It's a perfect main course for a light summer supper, or a great starter for a more substantial meal. A good herby bread and crisp salad complete the picture.

  • 3 large (about 1½ lbs) ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 stems parsley, plus 3 Tbsp chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1-inch-thick salmon steak (about 10–12 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chopped summer savory
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place a sieve over a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze the seeds, gel, and juice into the sieve. Stir, pressing lightly against the sieve with a spoon to make sure all the juice runs into the bowl. Discard the seeds and gel, but reserve the juice. Chop the tomatoes into ½-inch pieces and set them aside.
  2. Combine the broth, parsley stems, bay leaf, and lemon juice in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Add the salmon. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the salmon from the broth and set aside. Reserve salmon broth.
  3. In another medium-large saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter and stir in the tomatoes. Add the reserved tomato juice. Strain the salmon broth onto the tomatoes, discarding the celery and herbs. Add half the chopped parsley and the savory to the salmon broth and tomato mixtures. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, break the salmon into large flakes, discarding the skin and bone. Add the salmon flakes to the tomato mixture and simmer for 2 minutes longer to finish cooking. Serve immediately; garnish each serving with a little of the remaining parsley.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
Generally speaking, tomatoes are an acidic vegetable (fruit?), so you need a wine with good acidity to match. For this dish I'd recommend a fino sherry, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or New Zealand or a Tavel Rose.


Corn Fajita Salad in Tortilla Cups

Guess what we're having tonight! This is such a wonderful combination, and fussy little eaters will even ask for seconds! Edible bowls made from flour tortillas are easily prepared ahead. Then, when you have the barbecue on, grill a steak, cut it into strips and combine with corn, tomato, onion and green pepper as a filling for the tortilla bowls.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes
Serves 4

  • 1 lb (500 g) boneless sirloin steak
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) bottled Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) chili powder
  • 4 8-inch (20 cm) flour tortillas
  • 4 cobs Ontario sweet corn, cooked (or use 2 cups/500 mL frozen)
  • 1 medium Ontario onion, cut into thin wedges
  • ½ medium Ontario sweet green pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 medium Ontario field tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh coriander
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped Ontario green onion
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded Ontario Lettuce
  • ½ cup (125 mL) shredded old Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) sour cream

Marinate steak in refrigerator in Italian dressing and chili powder for several hours.

Tortilla bowls: Place 2 tortillas with waxed paper between each; microwave on high for 15 seconds to soften. Repeat with other 2. Place each tortilla over inverted 4-inch (10 cm) bowl. Elevate bowls on microwave rack; microwave 2 on high for 1 minute. Rotate and microwave on high for 1 minute or until crisp. Repeat with other 2. Remove from bowls and cool on rack. Store in tightly sealed container until ready to use.

Drain and reserve marinade from steak. Barbecue or broil until medium-rare. Cut into thin strips and reserve.

With sharp knife, cut corn kernels from cobs to make 2 cups (500 mL).

Cook onion and green pepper in reserved dressing in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add corn and steak strips; keep warm.

Combine tomatoes, coriander and green onion.

To assemble: Divide lettuce among bowls; fill with steak mixture. Top with tomato mixture. Garnish with cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Information:
1 Serving:
Protein: 30 grams
Fat: 21 grams
Carbohydrates: 39 grams
Calories: 501

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A medium-bodied dry red – Beaujolais, Ontario Gamay, Valpolicella, Chianti.


Bruschetta Mexicali

You know we love bruschetta, especially this version with Mexican accent; it's just as colourful as it is delicious. Any coarse-textured bread is a good candidate for the barbecue. It grills quickly, so watch carefully. For a spicier version of the bruschetta, season the vegetables with hot pepper sauce to taste.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Standing time: 15 minutes
Makes about 32 appetizers

  • 2 medium cobs Ontario Sweet Corn, husked
  • 2 Tbsp (25 mL) butter
  • 1 large clove Ontario Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) chili powder
  • 1 large Ontario Field Tomato, chopped
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp (25 to 50 mL) chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) lime juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 32 slices (½-inch/1 cm thick) coarse-textured bread
  • Garlic-flavoured olive oil

With sharp knife, cut corn kernels from cobs to make 1 cup (250 mL); set aside. In large frying pan, melt butter; cook corn, garlic and chili powder, stirring over high heat until corn is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in tomato, coriander and lime juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 15 minutes to blend flavours. Just before serving, brush both sides of each bread slice with oil. Grill over high heat, 4 to 5 inches (10–12 cm) from heat, about 1 minute per side. Top each with about 1 Tbsp (15 mL) corn mixture.

Nutritional Information:
1 Serving:
Protein: 3 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 18.5 grams
Calories: 131

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A white wine with a touch of residual sweetness but good acidity – Semi-dry Riesling, off-dry Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or a rose.


We wish to thank Thomas Allen and Son Ltd. for permission to publish material from The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis-Hollander. © 2004 by Storey Publishing.

We wish to thank Foodland Ontario for permission to publish recipes and photographs on Ontario Sweet Corn and Field Tomatoes. For more information and delicious recipes from Foodland Ontario, go to


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (67 KB)




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