Nothing pleases the palate as much as tomatoes fresh from the garden; read below details concerning how they traveled from America to Europe to the whole world; then, experience this great tomato recipe.
How I love this time of year, as it explodes with their bounty. Nevertheless, at times the question is what to do with them all. When faced with this dilemma recently, I mixed this fruit with turnips and my favorite Aidells Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages, both of which I had on hand; thus, this relatively quick and easy recipe evolved. Enjoy. (For another delicious Aidells sausage recipe, see Sausage with Zucchini and Eggplant .)
Where Tomatoes Originated
We think Italian cuisine, when tomatoes are mentioned, as we readily do with references to sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, potatoes, turkeys, and corn (in particular polenta). None of these foods, however, were present as part of this country’s heritage, until after the discovery of America. 1
The tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum, along with its relatives the potato, chilli, and tobacco, are part of the nighingshade family; tomatoes were domesticated first in Mexico, long before Christopher Columbus’ arrival here. 2
Cortez Brought Tomatoes Back To Spain
In 1519, twenty-seven years after Columbus’ first voyage, this fruit was officially discovered in Mayan towns by Spanish adventurer Hernando Cortez. In 1527, conquistadors brought it back to Spain, along with the avocado and papaya. 3
Tomatoes Spread Throughout Europe
Nearly three decades hence, in 1554, an Italian chronicle listed the first identifiable description of this yellow cherry tomato as pomo d’oro (golden apple). By the end of the 16th century, both red and yellow tomatoes were present in European gardens, but only as exotic ornamental plants. There was a long period in which great suspicion was attached to them throughout this continent, due to their close resemblance to a deadly nightingshade. Circumstances of the French Revolution, at the end of the 18th century, however, established them as an acceptable food. 4
Italy Leads The Way In Eating Tomatoes
Outside of Mexico, Italy was first to heartily incorporate this fruit in its food preparation; inadvertently it became a leader in this adaptation. The story unfolds with the French region Provence, whose cuisine was closely related to its Italian neighbor; these men from Provence formed the Marseillaise legion during the French Revolution. Being richly exposed to Italian cooking, these soldiers had adopted the Italian “love apple”, as it was called, for it was considered an aphrodisiac. In turn, this Marseillaise legion introduced this treasure to the Parisian troops, who took it back to their great city; thus, skepticism concerning tomatoes ceased in Paris. Acceptance followed throughout Europe and subsequently the whole world. 5
The week after next, I will post a Spanish recipe Ropa Vieja, from a 19th century American cook book, with more information on the history of tomatoes. This is an omelette using our prized fruit and leftover meat; it doesn’t get any simpler, but oh so taste-provoking!
- Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, A Taste of Ancient Rome (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 11.
- Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.329.
- James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 86, 88, 96, 97.
- Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), pp. 129-130.
Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes and Turnips Yields 4-6 servings. Total prep time: 1 hr. Note: leftovers taste even better, as flavors meld.
5 1/2 tsp oil (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)
1 medium yellow onion, cut in even 1/8″ slices
12 oz Aidells Spicy Mango with Jalapeno Chicken Sausages (May use any hot sausage of your choice, though this particular Aidells sausage is ideal; available at many supermarkets, including our local Winco and Fred Meyer-Kroger-stores.)
1 lb turnips, cut in small 1/2″ dice
1 1/4 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped
3/4 tsp dried oregano (Trader Joe’s has an excellent organic dried oregano for $1.99!)
1 tsp dried basil (Also available reasonably at Trader’s.)
1 tsp salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Avocado slices (These are high in potassium and other powerful nutrients.)
- Spay vegetables with an effective, inexpensive spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let rest for 3 minutes; rinse really well.
- To caramelize onions, melt 1/2 tsp oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; when a piece of onion sizzles in pan, lower heat to med/low; add rest of onions (do not crowd or they will sweat, taking much longer to caramelize). Stir every several minutes, until they began to change color; then, stir every minute, until dark brown; set aside. Watch carefully while proceeding to next steps.
- In another frying pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat; when small piece of sausage sizzles in pan, add the rest; cook quickly until browned, watching closely so as not to burn; place in a bowl, carefully saving juices in pan.
- Deglaze hot pan with 2 or more tablespoons of water (scrape fond, cooked-on juices, off bottom); set pan aside.
- Peel turnips, dice in small 1/2″ cubes, place in a large bowl, see photo in list of ingredients.
- Over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp more of oil in the above pan with juices. When a piece of turnip sizzles, stir in the rest, coating well with oils. Cook covered until soft, about 10 minutes; stir every few minutes, deglazing pan each time you stir, by adding 2-4 tbsp of water; this additional water will steam the turnips; see above photo. (Be sure to cover while cooking.)
Meanwhile chop tomatoes; set aside in a bowl.
- Mix tomatoes into soft turnips; sauté uncovered, over medium heat, until they are cooked down-about 15 minutes-at which time a chunky sauce will be formed (see photo). When tomatoes initially begin cooking, stir in oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Be sure to cook this uncovered.
- Mix in sausage and onions after a somewhat-thick sauce has formed, having chunks of tomato in it; adjust seasonings (see photo).
Serve topped with avocado slices, for added health benefits.