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Real Food: Take advantage of local tomatoes

By: Joanne Neft
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There are plenty of tomatoes at the farmers market, and today’s skirt steak recipe puts them to good use. The presentation for the meat is especially pleasing, thanks to the rich red colors of the tomato relish. Oftentimes I’m asked to name my favorite tomato and I never hesitate to say it’s an heirloom tomato called Cherokee Purple. Wikipedia’s description reads: “Cherokee Purple is the name of a cultivar of tomato, unusual for the deep purple/red hue of its fruit. It was one of the first of the ‘black’ color group of tomatoes. It is also unusual in being extremely popular for the sake of its flavor, instead of only its unusual color. Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak in style, with green ‘shoulders’ across the top. They are also notable for having a dense, juicy texture, with small seed locules irregularly scattered throughout the flesh. The comparatively dark interior color is enhanced by the tendency of the seeds to be surrounded by green gel.” The story continues by saying that Cherokee Purple is a century-old cultivar originating with the Cherokee people and that the Cherokee Indians gave seeds to someone in Tennessee 100 years ago; seeds are now available through seed catalogs. Don’t be put off by the appearance of the tomato. Many times there will be deep scars on the fruit around the stem. Simply cut them away, cut into generous slices, and enjoy the taste that is the way we remember tomatoes tasted years ago. Joanne Neft is a longtime Placer County agriculture advocate. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at www.placercountyrealfood.com. __________ Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomato Relish For the steak 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon chile flakes 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons salt 1/3 cup olive oil 4 pounds skirt steak (can substitute flank steak) Preheat grill. Combine herbs, garlic and oil and coat skirt steak. Let marinate at least 20 minutes before grilling. On a hot grill, sear steak on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Let the meat rest 10 minutes. Thinly slice meat and arrange on a platter with tomato relish. For the relish 3 cups tomatoes, diced 1/4 cup basil, chopped 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons olive oil salt and pepper Combine all ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish steak and serve.