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Fresh Ideas for Preparing Your Garden-Grown Tomatoes

Spiced tomato jam heats up this passed canapé of chickpea panisses, chèvre and parsley.

(Photo: Gracie's)

This summer, take hold of your health by exercising your green thumb. In addition to improving your mood, getting your body moving and exposing you to more vitamin D, gardening ensures you’ll have a store of healthy cooking ingredients. Whether from your garden or the local farm stand, fresh fruits and vegetables add nutritional value and delicious flavor to your meals.

Take a summer garden staple like tomatoes – they can be used in so many ways other than just tossed in a salad. We reached out to AAA Diamond Rated restaurants for ideas. Which will inspire you to get creative in the kitchen with garden-fresh vegetables?

Pump up the Jam

Get a party going in your mouth with a spiced tomato jam from chef Matthew Varga of AAA Four Diamond Rated Gracie’s in Providence, R.I.

Ingredients

3 pounds ripe, cherry tomatoes
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne

Peel the tomatoes by blanching them for a moment, then plunging them in an ice bath. The peels will slip off easily.

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed, large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring the pot often.

Once it boils, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally. In about an hour, the mixture should cook down to a thick jam. Taste and adjust seasoning.

tomato sauce

Give more flavor to grilled chicken or fish.

Dress up a Summer Classic

Executive chef Chris Eddy, from the AAA Five Diamond Rated Restaurant at Winvian Farm in Morris, Conn., makes a tomato sauce with a kick. He likes to use green zebra tomatoes in this recipe.

Ingredients

1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
Fresh basil
Virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine chopped tomato, mayonnaise, a few leaves of basil and a drizzle of olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. You could also drain the mixture through a fine mess strainer.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

How do you get creative with tomatoes? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Get a head start on growing your own tomatoes and other produce with our list of gardening resources and tips.

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