In Season: Tomatoes!
Did you know that VFM’s producers grow over 150 varieties of tomatoes – everything from Green Zebra to Black Krim to Brandywine Pink? Many of these will be on display and for tasting at our 16th Annual Tomato Festival, taking place at Trout Lake Market on August 26 and Kitsilano Market on August 27.
With so many colours, taste profiles, and textures, tomatoes are perhaps the most versatile of vegetables (fruits??) and find their way into culinary traditions across the globe. Soups, stews, sauces, garnish, salads, or just eaten raw – tomatoes are both pleasing to the palette and the eye.
How to choose & store: tomatoes taste best fresh off the vine, making farmers markets the perfect source for them – many of our vendors pick them the day before (or sometimes day of) they come to market. Look for brightly coloured fruit that are not too firm – store them outside the refrigerator and out of the reach of sunlight, unless they need an extra bit of ripening time.
Planning to can? Check with your local farmer to see if they sell B-grade tomatoes at a reduced price for canning and preserving.
Roast ’em: Try roasting your tomatoes with garlic in the oven instead of the traditional blanch and peel method for canning – the smokey flavour works great as a base for chilies, soups, and sauces.
Get your vitamins: tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids such as lutein and lycopene, and potassium. Cooking tomatoes actually boosts their nutritional qualities, making recipes like the Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup below from gardening blogger Rebecca Cuttler of Abundant City a heart-healthy and cancer-fighting power house.
Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil-Miso Pesto
- FOR THE SOUP:
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (romas are ideal, but any variety will work)
- ½ cup roasted cashews
- ½ chili (optional)
- 3 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR THE PESTO:
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 cups fresh basil, stems removed, packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions. On medium-low heat, cook until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cashews and chili. Turn up the heat and add the water. Cook until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.
- Transfer to a blender and blend on high until the soup becomes creamy. You may need to do this in two or three batches, using a large bowl to hold the extra blended soup. Once everything is blended, return the soup to the pot, give it a stir and add generous amounts of salt and pepper.
- The soup should have a nice creamy consistency. If it is too thick, add more water as needed.
- While the soup is cooking, make the pesto by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Eat immediately or store for up to a week in the fridge. If storing in the fridge, use the smallest jar you can find to help prevent the pesto from oxidizing (turning brown) and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top. The also pesto freezes beautifully. Use an ice cube tray or mini mason jars to freeze the pesto in portions.
- To serve, pour the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of miso-basil pesto.