There’s nothing like a juicy, ripe tomato to wake up a recipe and put a smile on your face. And tomatoes’ versatility means that you can enjoy them in a wide range of dishes that make friends and family smile, too.

“Florida tomatoes have been the inspiration for many of my most treasured recipes,” said Chef Justin Timineri, Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “But honestly, my side dish of choice — the simple joy of fresh raw Florida tomatoes seasoned with a sprinkle of sea salt.”

Chef Justin has created these recipes that maximize that fresh-off-the-vine taste and minimize your time in the kitchen.
For more Florida tomato recipes, visit www.floridatomatoes.org.

Classic Tomato Flavoring Partners
When creating your own tomato dishes, keep these great flavor partners in mind:
— Basil
— Black Pepper
— Kosher Salt
— Lemon
— Lime
— Chili Peppers or Powder
— Curry Powder
— Garlic
— Orange Zest
— Oregano
— Rosemary
— Tarragon

Storing Tomatoes
Are you one of the 60 percent of people who currently store tomatoes in the refrigerator? Chef Justin says that kills flavor and texture.

Instead, ripen your tomatoes in a bowl on your counter where they can reach full flavor and color — a treat for your eyes and your palate. To hasten ripening, place tomatoes in a sealed paper bag or fruit-ripening bowl.

Your Recipe Could Win $500
To celebrate the versatility and great flavor of fresh Florida tomatoes, the Florida Tomato Committee is hosting its Most Delicious Dish Recipe Contest. Submit an original recipe that incorporates fresh Florida tomatoes. The winning recipe will be selected on the basis of taste, appearance and ease of preparation, with attention also given to clear and creative photos. Get all the details at www.floridatomatoes.org.

Arugula and Mozzarella Spiked Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings
4 medium sized Florida tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
1 bunch fresh Florida arugula (or basil)
Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For vinaigrette: In medium sized bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, basil and garlic until completely emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Rinse tomatoes under cold running water and pat dry with clean paper towels. With a sharp serrated knife, cut each tomato into an even number of wedges. Then make a horizontal cut near the tip of each wedge, being careful not to cut all the way down. Set aside sliced tomatoes.

Cut mozzarella into slices that will fit into the slices made in the tomatoes. (Try to fit one piece of mozzarella into a tomato to see what size you’ll need to cut the rest.) To assemble, insert a slice of mozzarella into each tomato wedge. Arrange wedges on a plate and top with arugula or basil leaves. Garnish with basil vinaigrette. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.