I consider myself fortunate to live in New Jersey.
New Jersey is the butt of many jokes, but it’s a misunderstood place, known mostly for Bruce Springsteen, the notorious show ‘The Jersey Shore’ which I have never seen, The show ‘The Sopranos’ which I have never seen, and the New Jersey Turnpike – the stretch of road so ugly that I can forgive people who’ve only seen that road as they drive through the state for thinking it is nothing but a hell hole.
It isn’t just these things, by any means.
New Jersey has some of the most fertile farmland in the United States. We don’t have big farms – we have small local farms. And we also have a very vibrant local organic farming community. When I go to my farmers market, there are no less than four farms within driving distance that raise organic vegetables and even meat and eggs selling their products there.
Two weeks ago, one of our local farmers, overflowing with the famous Jersey Tomatoes, had 25 pounds of locavore, organic plum tomatoes for $10.
We couldn’t pass it up.
While they have made their way into a lot of meals since then, I was amazed at what I produced when I threw some on the barbecue grill.
All I did was coat the outside in olive oil and place on a very hot grill.
Unless you leave them on for a very long time, they can’t burn – there’s just too much water in them. What happens is the outsides blacken and the insides reduce and carmalize – making them sweeter and more tasty. The blackened outsides add a complex smoky flavor.
I left them for about 40 minutes, then put them in a bowl and used an immersion blender on them. If you do NOT know how to prevent your immersion blender from spraying tomato all over your walls, use a blender or food processor.
This left me with the most awesome thick, and flavorful tomato puree I had ever had. I ate it like a soup with no additional seasonings.
If you only know tomatoes from what you’ve gotten in a grocery store, understand that those things you bought are nothing like the tomatoes I just described.
I am hoping that I will be so SICK of tomatoes by the end of the season that I can hold out until next summer when they are back in season before I buy one again.
Grocery store tomatoes are not worth it when you’ve had the real thing.