Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
Whether you get your tomatoes from your garden, a farmers market or the grocery store, at this time of year, they are practically guaranteed to be bursting with flavor.
TIP Cheese is easier to crumble when it is cold -- right out of the refrigerator.
1. ORZO WITH ROASTED TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE
3 cups assorted cherry and grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
6 ounces orzo pasta (about 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup basil, cut into thin shreds
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; spread on the baking sheet pan and bake until the tomatoes just begin to split, about 13 minutes. (Only some of the tomatoes will have split.) Remove from oven.
3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the goat cheese. Gently stir in tomatoes and basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 6 side-dish servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving 185 calories, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 234 mg sodium
2. HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, oregano and parsley (any combination)
2 pounds assorted tomatoes (heirloom, yellow, red), sliced
2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, capers, salt and olive oil. Stir in the onion and fresh herbs.
2. Arrange the tomato slices in a slightly overlapping layer on a platter. Spoon about half the dressing over the slices; top with the halved cherry tomatoes and spoon the remaining dressing over those. Allow to sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving 125 calories, 3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 240 mg sodium
3. BACON-TOMATO-AVOCADO QUESADILLA
Drape quesadillas with foil and keep warm in a low oven (150 to 200 degrees).
8 slices center-cut bacon
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
4 ounces (8 slices) very thinly sliced provolone
12 ounces tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 avocado, cut into thin slices
1. Cook the bacon; place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Wipe out the skillet.
2. Working one at a time, place a flour tortilla flat on your work surface. Top one half with 1 slice of cheese, then a layer of 1/4 of the tomato slices followed by 2 strips bacon, 1/4 of the avocado slices, and top with another slice of cheese. Fold the tortilla closed. Form all 4 quesadillas, then heat the clean skillet over medium.
3. Place 2 quesadillas at a time in the skillet and press lightly. Cook until the undersides are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until the cheese is melted. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas, cut each in half and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis perh serving 394 calories, 17 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 22 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 963 mg sodium