Post 1.19 - Tomayto, Tomahto

I grew up in an era when less was known about many of the food allergies we hear about today. And all my life, while loving the taste, I've had a problem with tomatoes. Which is to say, typically, I have the runs.

We're all friends here, right? :-)

In a recent conversation with my mother, I learned that as a toddler and younger, I would get a rash on my face whenever I ate tomatoes. In other words, an allergic reaction! She was explaining how she could get me to eat anything with tomato sauce by telling me it was pizza, and then casually mentioned the after effects.

But like I said, it was a different time.

Anyway, in changing my diet in recent years, I have found that I can eat tomatoes without incident, depending on how I prepare them. I simply have to seed them first. I am not allergic to the skin or the "meat" of the tomato -- the part I like best anyway -- it's the mucus covered, acidic seeds that do me in. So I can make tomato sauce, I can add tomatoes to sandwiches and other entrees, and have no problem with stuffed tomatoes whatsoever.

Who knew?

Now, with other allergies, it isn't so simple. Peanut allergies can be downright deadly, but I relate this story because maybe I am not the only one who has trouble with tomatoes, and it really comes down to the acidic nature of seeds in general. Many seeds, especially those of fruits (as tomatoes technically are), have defenses to ensure the survival of the species, and acid is just one trick. We also eat tomato seeds without thinking much of it, while we'd never do the same for apples, oranges, or for that matter, a peach pit.

And I dare say, my favorite homemade tomato sauce is wondrously flavorful, even better than what my parents used to make when I was growing up -- which consisted of many ingredients stewing on a stove for hours on end.

So here's my recipe. Hope you like. I actually highlighted this/these recipes in May 2011, but they're worth repeating.

The Italian dressing mix is based on this recipe, and the overall dish is based on this recipe.

Italian Dressing

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar (I use Splenda or equivalent -- cuts the calories and sugar content)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.
  2. To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) package dry penne pasta (or your favorite pasta - I use whole wheat rotini/fusilli)
8 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the penne pasta in the pot, cook 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  2. While the pasta cooks, seed and dice the tomatoes. You can also use a food processor to dice the seeded tomatoes, pulsing until you have the desired texture - from chunky to puree.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the tomatoes and Italian dressing and Parmesan cheese, or add the cheese to taste.
You can expand this with some diced onion (as the original recipe calls for), some grilled chicken, or even some browned beef.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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