Chosen Bites: Summertime and cooking is easy

With their silky skin, meaty flesh and the generous array of colors and shapes, summer tomatoes are nothing like their winter counterparts.

Stuffed tomatoes (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Stuffed tomatoes
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
In the summer months the produce keeps coming and gets better each week. Of all the produce that tastes best in season, nothing is more inspiring than a ripe, soft, juicy and sweet summer tomato. With their silky skin, meaty flesh and the generous array of colors and shapes, summer tomatoes are nothing like their winter counterparts. Now is the time to take advantage of their delectability, to be creative and incorporate them in as many dishes as possible.
Sometimes the tomatoes come faster than I can eat them. Between my own tomato plants and the colorful orbs at the market that I just had to have, I am in Tomato Trouble.
My counters are littered with them. I have noticed neighbors avoiding me; probably for fear I will try to unload tomatoes on them. My husband rolls his eyes at dinner time. Maybe it was the gazpacho followed by the tomato salad? And the tomato pasta, tomato bruschetta and so on.
I have two new tomato dishes that will cure the tomato terror that has invaded my home. If you are like me and love tomatoes but have over indulged, these new dishes will inspire you and your family.
Easy baked tomatoes (parve or dairy)Serves 4-6
I use different colored tomatoes for this quick side dish. The tomatoes are great with a grilled steak, chicken, fish or vegetable entrée. 
4 medium tomatoes, cut in half 1 cup bread crumbs (I used leftover halla and pulsed it in a food processor)1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane½ cup chopped basil3 tablespoons chopped thyme3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)2 teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
preheat oven to 176C.
1. Place the tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
2. Mix all of the ingredients for the topping together in a small mixing bowl.
3. Top each tomato halve with a generous amount of topping. Bake the tomato halves for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the tomatoes have softened. Serve with fish, chicken or beef
Stuffed tomatoes (dairy)Serves 4
Gooey and delicious! This side can actually be a main if served with a salad and crusty grilled bread. Schmear the gooey cheese on bread and dine well.
4 large tomatoes, tops cut off about 1 inch from the stemOlive oil1 pound crumbled feta or favorite goat cheese1 egg, whisked2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane¼ cup chopped fresh mint2 teaspoons fresh lemon juiceKosher salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 218 C
1. Scoop out the flesh from the tomatoes with a spoon (sometimes a melon baller works well for this) and chop the flesh.
2. Place the chopped flesh in a mixing bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.
3. Rub each tomato inside and out with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Stuff the filling into the tomatoes. Top each tomato with its tomato “cap."
5. Place the filled tomatoes in a casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling bubbly and the tomatoes are lightly browned.
6. Serve with salad, crusty bread and fish
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.