The Humble Tomato

The Humble Tomato

On weekends, my grandfather would sneak away from the house. His instincts brought him to the farmer’s market, where he would buy a single tomato. Nothing would stop him, not even societal norms, from biting that ripe juicy vine fruit like an apple. 


There was a man that respected the humble tomato.  Today, tomatoes fill the landfill. According to a 2021 United Nations report, nearly 1.5 million tomatoes get a one-way ticket to the landfills. A significant amount of fruits and vegetables are wasted from the harvest to the retail location, but tons are wasted in the household. 


Reinventing beauty standards for tomatoes

We have all done it. It’s been installed in my brain for a long time.  That process of selection, picking up and putting down a bruised tomato.  There is room in the basket for a perfect red, ripe, and round fruit.


That’s why I am introducing the concept of Hideous foods. These recipes will capture the unique essence of imperfect ingredients and offer them a second life.  Everyone deserves a second chance.  These recipes will serve as a guide to reducing one’s food waste while keeping the deliciousness factor at the forefront. 


 Some recipes will focus on the preservation of ingredients, some will dip into repurposing them, and others will be tasked to maximize the foods.  Remember, as you embark on this weird journey, I ask to collect scraps from mise en place. They will be used in further recipes.


In the same way, my grandpa respected his humble market tomatoes, I will be highlighting them as chapters in the book.  Hopefully, it will feed everyone except trash cans. 

 

Hideous tomato Shakshuka with chillies and cilantro (Add a little something)

My go-to breakfast, lunch or dinner for that matter. I make this dish when I accidentally wake up early before work, and have enough time to quickly whip something up. Rather than wolfing down the leftover braised tofu noodles from last night’s dinner.  It is a classic poached egg dish that has many origin stories.  All with a delicious conclusion. Some believe Shakshuka was first prepared in Yemen.  Others claim the dish has Tunisian roots.  All agree, it is damn good. The eggs are poached gently in an aromatic, vibrant and vegetal tomato sauce and then eaten with some type of bread. 

Note: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 6 medium chicken eggs 
  • 10 ugly tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 green chillies 
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 scallion 
  • 2 naan breads

How to do it

  1. In a saucepan, sauté your chopped onion, and spices, in the ghee. 
  2. Add the chopped peppers, with salt and pepper. 
  3. Drop the ugly tomatoes into a pot of boiling water, for about 3 minutes. Then remove the skins. It should be a simple process, once they are slightly blanched. 
  4. Throw the tomatoes in the pan, and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. 
  5. Crack the six eggs into the tomato sauce, add half the cilantro, and finally cover with a lid. 
  6. After 5 minutes, the eggs are ready. Spoon the mixture onto naan bread, and top with scallions and cilantro.