Wish Upon A Dish: Mom's Marinaded Tomato Salad

August 17, 2011

Mom's Marinaded Tomato Salad

My mom loved tomatoes. She was the person who would slather Hellman's on 7 grain bread, a couple of huge fresh tomato slices and lunch was served.

I even remember her just eating them like you would apples, as a snack.

Back then, over 40 years ago, the only way to get a fresh tomato was to grow your own and I do know that we did have a small garden way in the back of our yard, next to the garage where the sun shined all day.

I do not remember exactly what vegetables she grew but I do know there were plenty of tomato plants.

I have a bad history with fresh tomatoes. I was the person who took all the slimy seed packed, gross tasty sacks of "stuff" that was between the meat of the tomato and ate only the meat.

What did I know? Not much I guess.

As a second generation Italian it was mandatory that when you lived any place with a yard, you planted tomato vines. So I did. Big Boys, Romas, Early Girls....I had them all.

I never ate any of them raw, I used them in sauces.....until last year.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic disease like Diabetes, your whole life changes. This just isn't about going on a diet, this is about changing your life.

I knew tomatoes where high on the list of power foods for diabetes and made the conscious decision to eat fresh tomatoes every chance I got.

The tomato is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium and is rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is easier for your body to absorb from cooked and processed tomatoes, such as tomato juice, than from fresh, whole tomatoes. According to Healing Gourmet: Eat to Beat Diabetes (McGraw-Hill, 2006), adding a little bit of oil while sauteing or cooking tomatoes can help aid in lycopene absorption.

Studies suggest lycopene-rich tomato products may help protect against certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer, and may offer cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory protection.

Check the Nutrition Facts food labels on packaged and canned tomato products to find those with the least sodium and sugar. Also, make sure you choose tomato sauce. The American Diabetes Association points out that tomato sauce is different than pasta or spaghetti sauces, which are categorized under starchy vegetables.

After doing research on tomatoes I made a conscious effort to eat as many raw tomatoes as I could. In salads, in salsas and in pestos.
I now am the kind of person my mom would smile at. I can eat a tomato sandwich.

Where as none of my large tomato plants are bearing fruit (I think I am feeding our deer....sigh), my yellow grape tomato vines have produced a plethora of tomato nugget goodness.

Tomorrow I will be harvesting what I know will be a huge bowlful. I will slice them horizontally and make my mom's marinade, which will envelope them in a quart Ball jar in my fridge, to serve with hamburgers, sandwiches and wonderful fresh mozzarella & red pepper salads. If you are using steak tomatoes, only make what you need, they get mushy if they spend the night with vinegar. Grapes and cherry tomatoes can stand up to the task.

Olive oil, balsamic glaze, crushed garlic, oregano, and pepper. The salt is added when served, and it just has to be sea salt.

I developed the ingredient list for a spiced balsamic glaze and have never given the recipe to anyone. They just know they love it on the Caprese salads I am always making. Also a hit on grilled chicken breasts, a wonderful Margarita pizza and just cubes of Parmesan cheese.

I have even served this drizzled on baked brie and apple crostini and talk about strawberries.......don't get me started.

Spiced Balsamic Glaze
* 1 bottle of good quality balsamic vinegar
* 5-6 juniper berries
* 3-4 whole cloves
* 1 Star Anise
* 1 - 2" cinnamon stick
* 3-4 allspice berries
* 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
* 1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones

Simmer everything until it reduces to a glaze. Watch it carefully once it gets to about 1/2 cup. It will go from OK to burnt in 3 seconds flat. Do not walk away from the stove. When it coats the back of a spoon, take it off the stove. It will thicken as it cools.

Store in a squeeze bottle for up to 1 month, but trust me, it won't last that long.

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