The Red Gold

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We’re talking tomato. Banish the can (or jar). Well, not entirely.  But almost. You can and might and should make the red gold yourself.

We buy a pizza dough from time to time. Flatten it. Stretch it. Roll it. You know where this is going. In my wife’s region of Italy (San Marino, Romagna, Marche) you get something pizza-like or foccaccia-like.  Called variously spianata, fornarina, ciclista, schiacciatina. Okay, it’s a white pizza. Some of them thin thin thin, with a little olive oil and sea salt and rosemary to make them fragrant and even more appealing. Top one of those with a little chopped tomato and arugula, you’ll have something extra good. Stra-good, they might say over there. The tomato matters. So much.

Once I believed good (read: sweet) tomato was achievable only in the summer. Wrong. Year around you can enjoy the red gold.

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So, the Campari tomato.  Between golf ball and tennis ball size, high in sugar content, low in acid; juicy tender fleshy balls of flavor. I like mine chopped. Good on sliced mozzarella, on bruschetta. A few seconds before I lay a bowl of penne with pesto on the table, I might ladle a few spoonfuls of red gold over the pasta.  The color! The taste!

And the chop’s the thing.  

Bring a pan of water to boil and blanch 8-10 tomatoes for 20-30 seconds. Drain the boil and run cold water over the tomatoes, still in the pan.  Fill the pan half full.

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Cut the stem out with a sharp knife. You’ll notice the skin loosening around the tomato. You can peel it off with your fingers. If it doesn’t slip loose from the fruit, you needed to blanch is a little longer.  

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Slice the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds with your fingers.  Sometimes an incision is necessary to get them all. Get them all. I douse them in the pan of cool water as I work, splashing away the seeds.  Why not get all of them?

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You’ll then chop the halves. I like them chunky. But for a bruschetta you might go thin.

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Finally you will have a pile of them on your cutting board. I scoop them into the palms of my hands and squeeze away the excess water.

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I pour olive over almost everything. I’d pour it over myself if it weren’t so expensive and impractical. So the red gold gets olive oil.  The tomatoes will keep in the fridge for a few days. Plan your menu around them. One caveat: Don’t salt them until you serve them. Salt will draw the water out of them.  In a few hours, that treasure you have in the fridge will be a bland, mushy, watery disappointment.

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