Curtis Stone’s The Ripe Stuff

Nothing says summer quite like a fresh-picked tomato.

Plate of Potato Zucchini Enchiladas

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Few things are more delightful than pulling a ripe, juicy tomato straight off the vine and then eating it standing over the kitchen sink. As a chef, I love the fact tomatoes are so incredibly versatile in the kitchen. I’ll work a plump, delicious tomato into just about any recipe I can — raw in salads and salsas, stewed in sauces, or roasted with meats and vegetables. Head to the farmers market or your own garden to ensure you’re getting tomatoes at their delicious peak.

There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes in an array of shapes, colors, sizes, and flavor profiles. Beefsteak are best for slicing into salads and making bruschetta, and they stand up to the heat of a grill. Plum varieties like the roma — which have a lower water content — are ideal for sauces or rich soups. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for nibbling and snacking. Heirloom tomatoes are gorgeous in tarts and tomato salads. Though often more expensive than other varieties, they’re well worth it in my opinion. Intensity of flavor can vary with color. Pink heirlooms like the Brandywine and Caspian Pink are balanced and sweet, while purple Paul Robeson or Black Krim can be intense, smoky, with a naturally salty flavor.

Mexican food is a family favorite in the Stone household. Potato and Zucchini Enchiladas with Habanero Salsa works as a great party food or comforting weekday dinner. Chilled Gazpacho is a classic summer treat. Use your favorite variety of tomato in this recipe — the key is to make sure they are ripe.

Potato and Zucchini Enchiladas with Habanero Salsa

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds total), cored
  • 3  fresh Anaheim chiles (8 ounces total)
  • 1/2 to 1 habanero chile, seeded
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves, 1 whole (but peeled), 2 finely chopped
  • 2 russet (baking) potatoes (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
  • 1 large or 2 small scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

To make salsa and filling, preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, and put tomatoes and chiles on it. Rub 1 tablespoon of oil over tomatoes and chiles and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Broil, turning as needed, until tomatoes and chiles are tender and their skins have charred, about 10 minutes for habanero, 15 minutes for Anaheim chiles, and 20 minutes for tomatoes. When Anaheim chiles are done, transfer them to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside until cool enough to handle. When habanero and tomatoes are done, transfer to plate and let cool slightly. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop Anaheim chiles; set aside. ä

Meanwhile, remove leaves from cilantro and place stems in blender. Coarsely chop leaves and reserve in medium bowl. Add whole garlic clove, broiled tomatoes, habanero, and any accumulated juices to blender and blend until smooth. Season salsa to taste with salt. Set aside.

Heat large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, then add potatoes and cook about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add zucchini, onion, and chopped garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chopped Anaheim chiles and ¼ cup salsa and season to taste with salt. Set aside to cool.

To assemble enchiladas, preheat oven to 450°F. Line small baking sheet with paper towels.

In small skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 tortilla to pan and cook for about 20 seconds per side, or until just pliable. Using tongs, transfer tortilla to paper-towel-lined baking sheet to absorb any excess oil. Repeat with remaining tortillas, layering them between paper towels.

Spoon about ⅓ cup of potato mixture over bottom third of tortilla, then roll up, and place seam side down in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Bake enchiladas, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or just until heated through. Reheat remaining salsa.

Drizzle about ⅔ cup of remaining salsa over enchiladas and then sprinkle cheese, scallions, and reserved cilantro leaves over the top. Serve with sour cream and pass the remaining salsa at table to spoon onto plates when serving.

Make-Ahead: The salsa and the vegetable filling can be made a day ahead, covered separately, and refrigerated. Rewarm salsa over medium-low heat before serving.

Per serving

  • Calories: 645
  • Total Fat: 37 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.5 g
  • Sodium: 402 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 65 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 0.75 lean meat, 3.25 vegetables, 7 fat, 3 starch

Gazpacho

Bowl of Gazpacho
(Quentin Bacon)

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 6), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium 100% organic vegetable juice
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 5-inch piece French baguette bread, crust removed
  • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup finely diced peeled and seeded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely diced seeded red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced seeded yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced seeded tomato
  • 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

In large bowl, combine first 10 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Transfer marinated ingredients to food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Refrigerate soup until it is very cold. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chilled soup into chilled bowls and garnish with cucumbers, bell peppers, and diced tomatoes. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Make-Ahead: The soup can be made 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

Per serving

  • Calories: 159
  • Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
  • Sodium: 134 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 23 g
  • Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 4 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 0.75 starch, 2.5 vegetables, 1 fat

Looking for more great tomato recipes? Check out Curtis Stone’s Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad at saturdayeveningpost.com/tommoz.

Curtis Stone is the chef/owner of Maude and Gwen restaurants in Los Angeles.

This article is featured in the July/August 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Quentin Bacon

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