Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tomáto Tomäto

The grape tomato's hearty skin and high yield per plant, enhanced sweetness and convenient size make it a popular choice for snacking and salads.
The thin skin and high water content of the cherry tomato made shipping difficult, and many consumers were not impressed with its variable flavor. A new strain,created in Southeast Asia which combined the thicker skin of the beefsteak-style tomato with the size and flavor of the Italian Roma tomato. The result was a first generation hybrid fruit with a thick skin, low water content and an intense sweetness. Because it resembled an olive or grape, this new variety became known as a grape tomato.
Because the grape tomato is a hybrid, seeds produced directly from the fruit cannot be used to grow more plants.
The flavor of a grape tomato is noticeably sweeter than a Roma or cherry tomato. Some bars in Asia offer customers bowls of grape tomatoes instead of the usual salted peanuts.
Because the grape tomato grows in clusters on a small vine, harvesting can be very labor intensive. The fruit must be picked at a point when the color is changing from light pink to a hint of red. A green grape tomato will not continue to ripen off the vine. However, a grape tomato does enjoy a year-round growing season, so it should be available even when other tomato varieties are out of season.
Some grape tomato cultivars include 'Gabrielle', 'Mini Charm', 'Summer Sweet', 'Sweet Olive', 'Grapette', and 'Green Grape'. The fruit of 'Green Grape' remain green at maturity.


  • Grape Tomato & Avocado Salad
This delectable salad proves that fresh, high quality ingredients taste superb with little adornment. Halved grape tomatoes and diced avocado join onion, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt in this perfect side dish or simple appetizer with tortilla chips. Can be prepared up to four hours ahead of serving, making it convenient for those summer days when you're constantly on the go.
Serves 3
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, or mixture of both
2 avocados, diced
High quality sea salt, such as Fleur de Sal
In a non-reactive glass bowl toss together the tomatoes, onion, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley or cilantro. Add the avocado and lightly toss. Season to taste with sea salt. Chill if not serving immediately.
Nutrition Information
Per serving (212g-wt.): 190 calories (140 from fat), 16g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 3g protein, 13g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium

  • Grape Tomato, Ricotta and Basil Bake
Serve this appetizer with slices of whole grain baguette or on a bed of baby arugula leaves if you like. Cooked tomatoes provide more of the red-coloured antioxidant lycopene. Combining them with extra virgin olive oil allows for greater lycopene absorption and maximum flavour at the same time.
Serves 6

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole grain
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (25 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (45 mL) light sour cream
1 cup (250 mL) light ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons (25 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 425°F/ 230°C.
Prepare an 8x8-inch (20-cm) baking dish by spraying with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Add tomatoes and olive oil and toss to coat. Spread tomatoes evenly in dish.
In small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, garlic, half of basil, 1/4 teaspoon each salt (1 mL) and pepper. Sprinkle half of mixture over tomatoes.
In a food processor, mix together flour and sour cream until smooth. Add ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, egg whites, remaining basil and salt; process until well blended. Spread over breadcrumb layer. Sprinkle remaining breadcrumb mixture over cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information
Calories: 190, Protein: 10 grams, Fat: 11 grams, Saturated Fat: 5 grams, Carbohydrate: 11 grams, Dietary Fibre: 2 grams, Dietary Cholesterol: 60 milligrams, Sodium: 399 milligrams, Potassium: 299 milligrams

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Does anyone hear if a tree falls in the city?

The Globe and Mail Saturday, July 3, 2007

Being Frontyardovich

The line looks like a ghost. It was just a squiggle until I looked at it from the steps.
The front garden bed came to me when I decided on the second spruce. It anchors the house when viewed from the sidewalk.

Imagine the Daylilies spread out, Lady's Mantle, Bergenia (Pig Squeak) next to Lamb's Ear, Goldmound Spirea (I was thinking about Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 'Aurea' until I discovered it's on the invasive species watch), among others.

I planted the rose bed, I'll post pictures soon.

I've lost count of the number of buds on the lilies. :)

Two pumpkins have sprouted from the vines. I'm so excited (but I'm also so fearful that they'll be devoured by the kangaroos). I'm keeping an eye on them.