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Cracking Tomatoes and Tasty Beet Greens

August 23, 2012

We are in a heavy harvest time for tomatoes, and many people wonder why their tomatoes crack just as they are ripening. Tomatoes liked to be on the dry side when fruit is ripening. Too much rainfall or irrigation can make the inside of the tomato outgrow the skin and start to crack.  If you don’t harvest the tomatoes quickly after cracking, insect damage can render the fruit inedible.

Certain tomato varieties are more resistant to cracking, such as: Boxcar Willie, Gardener’s Delight, and Market Champion. For a complete list, follow this link.

Beets are also bursting out of the ground this time of year.  They are great sliced in salads.  Just boil them for 30 minutes, peel off skin, and slice.

Make sure not to overlook their tasty greens. Beet greens can serve as a colorful side dish (see recipe below) or be incorporated into meals much like you would add swiss chard.

Sautéed Beet Greens With Garlic and Olive Oil (from NYTimes.com)

This simple classic (which can be made with any type of green) is great on its own as a side dish, or you can toss the greens with pasta, add them to an omelet or risotto, or use them in a gratin or a quiche.

1 pound beet greens (2 large or 3 small bunches)

Salt

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem the greens and wash the leaves in 2 rinses of water. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the greens. Blanch for 2 minutes, until tender. Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water, then drain and squeeze the water out from its leaves. Chop coarsely.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and hot red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and translucent, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the greens. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the greens are nicely seasoned with garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and serve.

Note: Some people enjoy a few drops of lemon juice with their cooked greens, so you might want to pass a plate of lemon wedges.

Advance preparation: The blanched greens will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

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