SOURCE: Florida Tomato Committee

April 19, 2011 13:51 ET

You Say Tomato From the Florida Tomato Committee

Recipes Fresh Off the Vine

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Apr 19, 2011) - (Family Features) There's nothing like a juicy, ripe tomato to wake up a recipe and put a smile on your face. And tomatoes' versatility means that you can enjoy them in a wide range of dishes that make friends and family smile, too.

"Florida tomatoes have been the inspiration for many of my most treasured recipes," said Chef Justin Timineri, Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "But honestly, my side dish of choice -- the simple joy of fresh raw Florida tomatoes seasoned with a sprinkle of sea salt."

Chef Justin has created these recipes that maximize that fresh-off-the-vine taste and minimize your time in the kitchen.

For more Florida tomato recipes, visit www.floridatomatoes.org.

Classic Tomato Flavoring Partners
When creating your own tomato dishes, keep these great flavor partners in mind:
-- Basil
-- Black Pepper
-- Kosher Salt
-- Lemon
-- Lime
-- Chili Peppers or Powder
-- Curry Powder
-- Garlic
-- Orange Zest
-- Oregano
-- Rosemary
-- Tarragon

Storing Tomatoes
Are you one of the 60 percent of people who currently store tomatoes in the refrigerator? Chef Justin says that kills flavor and texture.

Instead, ripen your tomatoes in a bowl on your counter where they can reach full flavor and color -- a treat for your eyes and your palate. To hasten ripening, place tomatoes in a sealed paper bag or fruit-ripening bowl.

Your Recipe Could Win $500
To celebrate the versatility and great flavor of fresh Florida tomatoes, the Florida Tomato Committee is hosting its Most Delicious Dish Recipe Contest. Submit an original recipe that incorporates fresh Florida tomatoes. The winning recipe will be selected on the basis of taste, appearance and ease of preparation, with attention also given to clear and creative photos. Get all the details at www.floridatomatoes.org.

Arugula and Mozzarella Spiked Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings
4medium sized Florida tomatoes
1pound fresh mozzarella cheese
1bunch fresh Florida arugula (or basil)
Vinaigrette:
1/3cup olive oil
2tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1tablespoon honey
2tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For vinaigrette: In medium sized bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, basil and garlic until completely emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Rinse tomatoes under cold running water and pat dry with clean paper towels. With a sharp serrated knife, cut each tomato into an even number of wedges. Then make a horizontal cut near the tip of each wedge, being careful not to cut all the way down. Set aside sliced tomatoes.

Cut mozzarella into slices that will fit into the slices made in the tomatoes. (Try to fit one piece of mozzarella into a tomato to see what size you'll need to cut the rest.) To assemble, insert a slice of mozzarella into each tomato wedge. Arrange wedges on a plate and top with arugula or basil leaves. Garnish with basil vinaigrette. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Sunshine Mary
Yield: 6 servings
6large ripe Florida tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4cloves fresh garlic, minced
2teaspoons hot sauce, (or more if desired)
2teaspoons fresh horseradish (or prepared)
1teaspoon kosher salt
1teaspoon seafood boil seasoning (Cajun seasoning will do)
2teaspoons celery salt
1teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Salt or sugar to taste, for glass rims

In a blender, combine all ingredients except last until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference. Pour Sunshine Mary mix into a food storage container or pitcher, cover and chill.

To assemble, combine 1 ounce of good quality vodka to every 6 ounces of Sunshine Mary mix. Pour salt on a napkin. Moisten the top of the glass and rotate the rim in the salt. For a sweet twist, try sugar instead of salt. Pour drink from pitcher over ice and garnish with celery sticks.

Tomato and Cucumber Salsa
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2large Florida tomatoes, diced
1large Florida cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2cup red onion, chopped
1/2cup Florida bell pepper, chopped
1/4cup fresh parsley, chopped
1tablespoon red wine vinegar
1teaspoon Italian seasoning
1lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In medium sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

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