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Kitchen Tip: How to Seed Tomatoes

Kitchen Tip: How to Seed Tomatoes

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When a recipe specifies that you should seed tomatoes, there's a good reason—those seeds and tomato "innards" may negatively affect the outcome of the dish. This week, Test Kitchen Manager Tiffany Vickers Davis shows you how to quickly and easily seed three types of tomatoes and explains why you want to do so in the first place. Put those seed-free beauties to delicious use, maybe in our Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa. Or how about Rainbow Trout with Smoked Tomato Salsa?

Speedy Fennel and Tomato Spaghetti

Pasta is always a great option when you are a little pushed for time, it is also very handy to have ready made in the fridge to grab on your way to work.

Choosing a wholegrain pasta or even one made from lentils, quinoa or beans can also be a brilliant way of contributing to your fibre and protein intake. Wheat, corn or rice based pasta provides lots of slow release carbohydrates that are perfect for refuelling after a workout or powering you through a busy afternoon.

Roasting the vegetables really brings out their natural sweetness, especially the cherry tomatoes, then when squished, provide an instant sauce for the pasta.

Finishing the dish with nuts and fresh herbs is great for adding texture and a really fresh flavour.

This dish is great to make in a large batch and take to work for lunch the next day

  • 1 Red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, left whole still in their skins
  • 2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • Around 16 cherry toms (on the vine if possible)
  • Handful almonds (or any nuts / seeds you have to hand, pine nuts are also great)
  • Fresh basil, parsley or oregano
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 140g spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)

In a baking tray, mix together the fennel, onion, garlic cloves, fennel seeds, olive oil, along with some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes before adding the cherry tomatoes, still on their vines, and then returning to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Once the tomatoes have been added, cook your pasta in a large pan of salted water, following the instructions on the back of the packet. Once, cooked drain the pasta, leaving 1-2 tbsp of the cooking water in the pan.

Once the fennel mixture is fully cooked, remove from the oven. Carefully pick out the garlic cloves, take off the skins and roughly chop. At this point also remove the tomatoes from their vines.

Add all the cooked vegetables into your pan with the pasta, along with the chopped garlic. Give everything a good stir allowing the tomatoes to be squashed slightly to create a bit of a sauce with the remaining cooking liquor from the pasta.

Taste for seasoning, adding a little salt and pepper if needed. Finish with the fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, dash of olive oil and some roughly chopped almonds.

Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes

Feta-Stuffed Tomatoes, baked up with a yummy feta cheese and fresh parsley filling.

Mark's been asking me when I was going to get cooking with the season's fresh tomatoes . so far, we've just been eating them au-natural right off the plant. Well, apparently today is when!

'Cause today I made these feta-stuffed beauties for lunch. And let me tell ya, it was quite a tasty lunch.

I was a nice wife though and put a couple in the refrigerator for Mark to have with his dinner tonight. I'm sweet like that. Actually . it was that I needed proof that I had finally cooked with the fresh tomatoes, not that I'm that sweet. I am sweet to Mark . most of the time. :-)

Scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon so you're left with a hollowed out tomato shell. Discard the runny seed parts, but keep the big hunks of pulp . you'll chop those hunks up and use them in the filling.

Then mix up a quick filling with the chopped tomato pulp, feta cheese crumbles, bread crumbs, fresh parsley, and olive oil. Cram the filling into the tomato shells, bake it for a teeny bit, and you're good to go.

Serve 'em up as a tasty little side dish. They're a delicious way to help get some of the oodles of garden tomatoes out of your ears.

Kitchen Tip: How to Seed Tomatoes - Recipes

This recipe is a quick and easy hors’dourve…. my friend Shirley made stuffed cherry tomatoes for a gathering we had… she used a seasoned cream cheese… and they were gone in no time….

I like to use Boursin…. It’s easy and readily available. Now you might think cutting and seeded the cherry tomatoes is labor intensive… well it really isn’t. I did an entire bunch in about 20 minutes.

I like to add these to a variety of hors’dourves because it really isn’t too high in calorie and a nice little change from all the other finger foods.

I hope you think about adding these to your holiday party table.

Recipe: Boursin Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

All you need:

Cherry tomatoes
Boursin Spread

All you need to do:

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and using a small spoon (I used the tip of an iced tea spoon) seed the tomato.

Using a sharp knife, cut out the center pulp of the tomato to form a hollow bowl.

  • 15 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups chopped carrots
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 1 can (10 oz/284 mL) tomato juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, oil, honey, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, fennel seed, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat.
  3. Spread vegetables evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and slightly browned, about 1 hour. Toss vegetables halfway through cooking.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a large pot. Add broth, tomato juice and vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme. Stir in cream.
  5. Purée using a hand blender. Serve immediately.

199 calories, 15.4 g fat, 3.7 g protein, 13.4 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fibre, 224 mg sodium

Spiced Tomato Jam

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This is the time of year I hold in deep anticipation through the fall, winter, spring, and early summer – the season where red, ripe, just-picked off-the-vine tomatoes show up by the boxes and baskets at farmers’ markets, farm stands, and even in cardboard boxes on upturned milk crates as hastily created “displays” at the end of someone’s driveway who is selling the bountiful crop of tomatoes from their own garden.

I’ve been known to buy a couple lovely tomatoes and a couple ears of picked-that-day Silver Queen corn from a local farm stand and come home and cook an ear of fresh corn and slice up a tomato having only those two items for my dinner! I love fried red tomatoes , too, and sometimes those would appear solo on my dinner plate.

“Back in the day” when I was a kid in the 󈨀’s and 󈨊’s my Pop used to plant tomatoes in a well-used little strip of land in our side yard that he fed with kitchen scraps throughout the winter. But he really only planted enough to satisfy the needs of my immediate family. My Nana (grandmother) would always can chow chow and other veggies, so she often raided our garden at the end of the season to find useful stragglers among the yellowing leaves of the plants there.

Nana’s need for “extras” in her canning fervor usually meant supplementing our garden with baskets of veggies bought from a farmer in Valley View, Pa. every year. We were such good customers, he would hold bushel baskets of beets, cucumbers, and tomatoes for us to pick up after the roadside stand closed for the day.

Often, Nana wound up with some unused tomatoes after making her chili sauce (I will share the recipe soon, I promise…) and the “coalcracker” in her would not let perfectly good food go to waste (I inherited that gene) so she was always looking for a small batch of something yummy to create to “put things to good use”.

Spicy Tomato Jam was the perfect answer. This sweet, tomato-y jam is excellent on cream cheese and crackers, spooned over hot dogs, even as a topping on meatloaf. It is one of those recipes that makes a small batch, but is well worth the effort.

Tomatoes are high in pectin, more than some fruit. Many traditional tomato and jam recipes call for cooking the fruit mixture until it sufficiently thickens — which, for tomato jam can be somewhere in the range of two to two and a half hours! My physical limitations as of late mean I can no longer stand around babysitting a simmering pot of anything for two and a half hours. However, this recipe uses powdered pectin and suits me perfectly. (Powdered pectin is available in many grocery stores or you can buy it online through Amazon.)

If you don’t want a spiced version of this jam, the recipe is adaptable by simply leaving out the allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. This recipe makes approximately five half pint (8 ounce) jars. Make sure to use fully ripe, unblemished tomatoes in this recipe. The tomatoes used can be slicing tomatoes or plum (Roma) tomatoes. If the tomatoes are particularly “juicy”, I sometimes pull out the seed pocket with the tip of my index finger and discard this. The choice is up to you.


Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add onions cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often until softened. Add garlic and cracked fennel seed cook and stir 1 minute until fragrant. Add wine to deglaze, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.

Simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and crushed red pepper reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Add olives and cook 3 minutes longer. Turn off heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, pat cod filets dry with paper towels. Season filets with salt and pepper, if desired. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Carefully place cod filets in skillet, flesh-side down (the side that had skin should be facing up). Cook, undisturbed, 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown crust forms on bottom. Gently flip filets. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until cooked through and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Divide the Spicy Fennel & Tomato Sauce between 4 serving plates. Place cooked cod over sauce and sprinkle with parsley to serve, if desired.

Test Kitchen Tip: To crack spice seeds such as fennel, cumin and coriander, place the amount needed into a small bag. With the back of a medium size metal spoon crush or pound the seeds until desired size is reached.

  • Color: A ripe tomato is uniformly colored, in a shade true to its variety. An unripened tomato has inconsistent color. An overripe tomato has soft spots and may ooze juice from cracks.
  • Texture: A ripe tomato is smooth, plump, and glossy.
  • Touch: A ripe tomato is not too soft or not too hard to the touch. It “gives” when you press it with a finger. Avoid selecting a tomato with bruises or one that’s overly soft.

Store fresh, ripe tomatoes at room temperature with stem side up to reduce softening. When a tomato is completely ripe, place it in a cool spot and use it as soon as possible before it attracts gnats or spoils. Avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator, where cold air dulls its taste and softens the texture to make it mushy.

Unripened tomatoes need warmth (not light). Place them on the kitchen counter, stems up, away from drafts. A sunny windowsill is a warm spot, provided there are no drafts. If your tomatoes are extremely under-ripe, set them in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas from both the tomatoes and fruit will help tomatoes ripen quickly.

1. Remove any stickers and wash the tomato thoroughly.

2. Remove the stem and cut a shallow X on the bottom of the tomato. This will make peeling much easier. Optional: Some cooks also cut out the stem end with a sharp paring knife.

3. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it aside. Place a pot of plain water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Carefully lower the tomato into the boiling water. You can add several at a time. Remove them after 30 seconds, or when the skin begins to peel back, and place them into the bowl of ice water.

4) Timing & Temperature:

  • The length of time it takes for your seeds to germinate is heavily related to soil temperature. Tomato seeds should germinate within 5-6 days if you can keep the soil temperature around 80º F. Peppers take a little longer with a little higher temperature (7-8 days at 85º F). Remember this is soil temperature, not ambient temperature.
  • Speeding things along: I usually get germination earlier than the standard charts predict by placing bottom heat under my flats using 100-watt light bulbs (see this post for my seed-starting setup).

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