Fresh, in season tomatoes are one of great joys of summer abundance! I have always been a huge fan of tomatoes, but it’s one of the first foods I remember my friends not liking as a kid.
It felt commonplace to hear kids requesting sandwiches with no tomatoes or asking for the soggy slices to be pulled off of hamburgers. And right there is one of the chief problems. Their seeds make other foods soggy.
The other chief problem is that we don’t get great tomatoes when they’re not in season. I know I don’t need to tell you that off-season tomatoes are tasteless, often mealy–a whitish ghost of their summer counterparts. So, summer is the perfect time to explore tomatoes.
Now, to tackle the soggy issue. In American culture we love the sandwich and a slice of tomato is a classic, standard sandwich topping. For a picky or sensory sensitive eater this can pose a few problems. Besides the fact that the offending tomato slice is hidden in the sandwich so it’s a surprise when you’re going to get it in a bite, the hidden tomato is juicy, so it gets on everything else and makes the bread soggy to boot.
Tomato flesh is juicy, but it’s really the seeds that are to blame. The best way I’ve found to deal with this–which also makes a great food play activity–is to de-seed tomatoes. This is such a wonderful, functional, deconstruct activity!
You can de-seed tomatoes for a salad or most dishes that call for tomatoes or you could let your little one do it. Let them explore the tomatoes, poke their little fingers around to get all the last seeds out. I like to de-seed tomatoes under running water, but you can experiment with different ways, if that won’t work at your house.
Here is a link on how to de-seed tomatoes if you’ve never done it. I like method 2 where you can use your fingers and can be more gentle with the flesh of the tomato.
And below is my absolute favorite tomato recipe (which requires de-seeding 2 lbs of plum/Roma tomatoes). If you can get your child to help you, this tomato recipe makes a wonderful hands-on cooking activity with kids. It’s also an amazing recipe for entertaining, but do note that it takes about 2 hours 45 minutes in the oven–so this may be an activity/recipe for a rainy day or a day you’ll be home and can check the oven every hour or so!
Pomadori Al Forno
1 cup (or more) olive oil
2 lbs plum/Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced, fresh, Italian parsley
Aged goat cheese (optional, but delicious)
1 baguette thinly sliced crosswise
Preheat oven to 250. Pour 1/2 cup oil into 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Arrange tomatoes cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again, bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to a plate when soft (time will vary depending on ripeness of tomatoes) about 15-45 minutes longer.
Layer tomatoes in med. bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer. Drizzle tomatoes with oil from dish, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. DO AHEAD. Cover. Chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temp. before serving.
Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices.
Yum!! Enjoy and happy food play!