Marcus has covered food for Newsday since 1998.
What do you do when you're tired of tomato sandwiches?
This is a real danger this time of year, when my default weekday lunch is a sandwich made with farmers market tomatoes and bread that I toast in the office kitchen. It's not that I actually get tired of tomato sandwiches, but I realize I can't eat them three times a day. I've had to branch out into tomato recipes that work for breakfast and dinner. To wit:
EGGS IN PURGATORY
This classic Italian dish, uova in purgatorio, is similar to the Israeli shakshuka, except the latter includes peppers as well as tomatoes in the sauce. Quantities are entirely flexible here. The quantity of tomatoes should determine the size of the pan you use, and the pan size determines the number of eggs: 2 to 3 eggs in an 8-inch skillet, 4 to 6 in a 10-inch skillet. You'll need a sturdy, nonstick pan with a tight-fitting lid.
1 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Fresh thyme or oregano sprigs (optional)
1. Chop the tomatoes roughly and place in pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, sliced garlic and a few sprigs of thyme or oregano. Place pan over medium heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has begun to thicken, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on quantity of tomatoes and size of pan.
2. Crack eggs into a bowl, then carefully tip them into the tomatoes, trying to distribute them evenly around. Cover pan, turn heat to very low and cook until whites are opaque and not runny, 2 to 5 minutes. Because the eggs can stick to the bottom of the pan (despite the sauce), use a thin spatula to loosen them before spooning them, along with the sauce, onto a platter -- or some toast. Garnish with some fresh olive oil, more herbs and, if desired, snipped chives. Count on 2 eggs for each serving.
SAUSAGES BAKED WITH CHERRY TOMATOES
When the cherry tomatoes at the market are so sweet and beautiful that you wind up buying several pounds of them, this is the perfect recipe for dinner. My friend Micki, a great home cook, adapted it from "Jamie at Home" by Jamie Oliver (Hachette, $37.50) and wowed not only the people she fed but also everyone who saw the photo on my Instagram feed. Micki used hot and sweet pork sausages from A&S Italian market in Oceanside, but you could use any good, fat chicken or turkey sausage as well. Leftovers can be chopped up the next day and made into a wonderful chunky pasta dish, using penne or rigatoni.
4 1/2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 Italian sausages, sweet or hot or both
2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a roasting pan large enough to take the tomatoes in one snug-fitting layer, put in the tomatoes, herbs, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and pop the tray into the oven. After half an hour, give the tray a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.
2. Once it's cooked, you'll have an intense, tomato-y sauce. If it's too thin, lift out the sausages, stir up the tomatoes, turn oven up to 425 and return pan to the oven until sauce thickens. Check the seasoning and serve with grilled or toasted rustic bread to catch the sauce. Makes 6 servings.