Monday, 4 April 2011

Ricotta stuffed truss tomatoes

Our strange weather conditions have caused a lot of mix ups when it comes to fruit and vegetables lately, think bananas @ $12 a kilo and rising!

But it’s not all bad news - there’s an oversupply of truss tomatoes at the moment which hopefully will make shoppers smile.


Truss tomatoes are grown hydroponically in glasshouses in controlled environments, protecting them from harsh weather conditions year round.

According to the growers, the up side is this sustainable farming practice uses 90 per cent less water and 80 per cent less fertiliser than growing tomatoes in the field.  This reduces carbon footprint and ensures the tomato has all the necessary vitamins and minerals to produce a perfect tasting fruit every time.

Truss tomatoes are identified by their green vine (truss), which acts as an indicator of freshness. The tomatoes should remain on the truss until ready to be consumed, as the truss continues to feed water and flavour into the fruit, maximising its juiciness and taste. Truss tomatoes are harvested when ripe, hand-picked and handled, to ensure the tomatoes are consistently high in quality.

When selecting truss tomatoes, choose even-sized tomatoes which are deep red in colour. The first few tomatoes on the vine should have their full red glow. I like the real tomato aroma I can detect when handling these glossy tomatoes. And here's something I didn't know - tomatoes begin to break down under 4 degrees celciusso they should never be stored in the fridge. Instead, tomatoes are best stored at room temperature on a kitchen bench or in a fruit bowl and will last for an average of five to six days. I like to store mine on the bench except when it's very hot as they just taste better when you eat them for a start!

Here’s a recipe that puts those lovely red tomatoes to good use – you can use small truss tomatoes for an entrée or appetiser or bigger ones like I did as a side dish for a main course.



Ricotta Stuffed Truss Tomatoes
Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes - No cooking required
Ingredients
500g small truss tomatoes (or four large tomatoes)
100g rocket leaves
180g ricotta
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Preparation Instructions


  • Slice the tops off the truss tomatoes and reserve.
  •   Scoop out some flesh and discard. 
  • Combine the ricotta with 1-2 tbsp of the lemon juice (add sufficient juice to your liking) and the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper.  I also added some finely grated lemon zest to the mix as this is one of my faves.

  • Spoon into the tomatoes and replace the lids.
  • You can serve them at this stage or I popped my large tomatoes into a medium oven for 10 minutes.  Think about topping them with a breadcrumb/butter mixture as well for added crunch.

  •    Combine the olive oil and remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Toss the rocket leaves in the dressing and serve alongside the tomatoes.

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