You say Tomato, and I say Yes!, Finally, TOMATO!

No matter how you spell it, the one question every veggie grower in the country was asking this summer was “What’s up with the tomatoes?” Slow to start, and even slower to ripen, they got to most markets at least two weeks to a month behind last year. But, they are coming on strong now, and so below find two great recipes for using them, as well as one for all that zucchini.

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Fennel

Makes enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta

4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed of stalks, halved, cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 med. cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 strips orange peel (each 3×1 inch)
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
3 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 3 3/4 cups)

3 tbsp chopped fresh basil, and salt, pepper to taste.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in 10 inch skillet. Add fennel and cook until softened and browned around edges about 4-6 min.
Add garlic, fennel seed, pepper flakes, orange peel.Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomato pieces lose their shape to form chunky sauce, about 10 minutes.

Remove and discard orange peel. Stir in orange juice, basil, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. toss sauce and remaining 2 tbsp oil with pasta and serve.

Tomato Mint Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
Be sure to toast the bread until it’s nice and crispy so that it won’t become too soft when topped with the juicy tomato mixture.

1 large tomato, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24 (1/4-inch) slices Earthly Kneads Tuscan bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz Dancing Goat Creamery goat cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
24 whole fresh mint leaves

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine tomato, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper in medium bowl.

2. Lightly brush one side of bread slices with oil; place, oil-side up, on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until tops are dry and crispy.

3. Spread crispy side of each bread slice with 1 teaspoon goat cheese; top with 1 tablespoon of the tomato mixture. Return to baking sheet; bake 5 minutes or until warm. Sprinkle with mint; garnish with mint leaves.

24 servings

PER SERVING: 65 calories, 3 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 2.5 g protein, 7.5 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, .5 g fiber

Zucchini Cornmeal Spoonbread
Be sure to thoroughly drain the shredded zucchini so the spoonbread is creamy, not watery. Serve it with grilled meats or fish.

3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion.
1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish with cooking spray. Place zucchini in large strainer set over bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Press or squeeze zucchini to remove excess liquid.

2. Whisk eggs in large bowl until blended. Stir in sour cream, cheese, onion, butter and salt until combined. Stir in zucchini and cornmeal until blended. Pour into gratin dish.

3. Bake 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

8 servings

PER SERVING: 355 calories, 24.5 g total fat (14.5 g saturated fat), 10 g protein, 24.5 g carbohydrate, 145 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 3 g fiber