Creative recipes for fresh tomatoes

Edible gardening is becoming a popular way for Americans to unwind while saving money on their grocery bills. Both novices and expert gardeners can run out of ideas for their luscious homegrown tomatoes, and thinking of new recipes can become overwhelming.
Here are some creative ways to make tomatoes exciting again:

For a simple salsa, start with the basics and chop up some of your fresh tomatoes; add onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeños. Now try adding new ingredients like corn, black beans or even raspberries. For a different treat, add mashed avocado to your basic salsa for a chunky California-style guacamole.

For delicious tomato-basil bisque, cut up your freshly grown tomatoes and remove the seeds.  Add them to a pot with diced onion, carrots, garlic, a little vegetable broth and lots of fresh basil. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes and then use a hand blender to puree.
Add a little milk to the pot for a creamier soup. Prefer chili? Add some chili powder and bell peppers instead of the basil then, after blending, toss in a can or two of beans. Use two types, like cannellini and kidney, for added color and texture.

Homemade pizza can be easy and is always a delicious treat for everyone in the family. You can use nearly anything for a crust. Kids may enjoy making individual pizzas using bagels, English muffins or slices of bread. Flat breads and wraps work, too. Once you have selected your crust, brush with a little olive oil and toast in a 400°F oven for a few minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and start creating.

For sauce, try pizza sauce, salsa, pesto, BBQ sauce or just some chopped fresh tomatoes.
Add whatever you desire – pepperoni, grilled chicken, onions, basil, peppers, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, roasted vegetables, spinach…you get the idea.

Now top with cheese like grated parmesan, crumbled feta or blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, provolone…don’t be afraid to experiment.

Pop your creation into a hot oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cheese melts and bubbles.

Beyond the BLT:
Sandwiches don’t have to be boring. Use a panini press or grill to liven things up.
• Bread – a thickly sliced multigrain, a loaf of freshly baked Italian bread, an  ‘everything’ bagel or even pita bread can make your sandwich more appealing.
• Bacon – Try thickly sliced peppercorn bacon, ham, salami, roast beef or turkey. For even more variety, substitute fresh mushrooms or a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.
• Lettuce – Maybe. Or maybe you would prefer spinach, basil, grilled vegetables, hot peppers or sprouts.
• Tomato – Of course! Load on slices of any variety of tomato from your garden and enjoy.
• Mayo – If you’d like. You could also try hummus, dressings (ranch, thousand island, or Italian), spicy mustard, sweet pepper relish, BBQ sauce or even marinara.

Courtesy of Family Features


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