To write about food is to write about memories – and this is certainly true in my case, when it comes to writing about tomatoes. To me, they remind me of the many gorgeous summers I spent in the countryside while I was growing up. My aunt and uncle owned a small house about 20 miles away from the city, and they loved having me and my niece Anne Marie over when school was out for the summer.
Those were the days I never got tired because the world and its wonders kept me in awe, and my uncle’s garden was something to behold. We used to play hide-and-seek in that garden, tirelessly running around the cherry trees, digging deep and hoping to discover allegedly long-lost treasures at the root of the old fir tree, or happily hunting down Colorado beetles in the mild sunset light. We would always play and eat in that garden – who could have resisted freshly picked raspberries, apricots, apples and, of course, tomatoes? Indeed, no day would pass without me eating a tomato from my uncle’s garden. Firm, slightly sweet and deliciously thirst-quenching, my uncle’s heirloom tomatoes would give me that much-needed energy boost to go on with my playing.
This is how tomatoes became a part of who I am today – and this is why I love tomatoes and using them (either fresh or canned) in my recipes. I cooked again with tomatoes recently, for a special occasion: Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me and asked me to review their products and grilling recipes, and they also offered a giveaway to my readers.
This summer Red Gold Tomatoes is encouraging home chefs to grill with its tomatoes, and their summer grilling recipes can be found here. They are also running a promotion on Facebook in collaboration with Laura’s Lean Beef, where you can win one large Big Green Egg each week, as well as hundreds of insulated tote bags. Red Gold sent me the package below and a bottle of their new sriracha ketchup (due to hit the stores soon) to facilitate my recipe review. I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.
I tested three of Red Gold’s recipes, and the grilled steak with chimichurri sauce was my family’s favorite by far. I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. However, I only used 2 tbsp because I did not want the sauce to be too sweet. It was also great to be able to put to good use the fresh oregano from my garden. The end result was a very tasty sauce, with its diverse components working together to deliver layer upon layer of flavor.
The chimichurri elevated the steak and made it light and packed full of flavor. Every ingredient in the sauce, from tomatoes to garlic, from cumin to red pepper flakes, had a flavorful, justified reason to be there, and spoke in harmony with the others. What a tasty and joyful summer dish!
We liked the chimichurri sauce so much that we ended up using it on top of the spicy tomato burger, the second recipe I made. My husband thought the original burger was not spicy enough, so I took out the dill pickles and kalamata olives I’d served the burger with initially, and replaced them with the chimichurri sauce. The result impressed both my husband and I: the burger was spicy – and so good! For super spiciness, you can also serve the burger with sriracha ketchup.
To go with the burger, I made grilled corn with whipped tomato butter. I left the petite diced tomatoes slightly chunky to give the butter a bit of texture. The butter melted beautifully on the hot grilled corn, and the tomatoes and the lemon juice made it light and refreshing. You can make this butter in advance and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Overall, my family and I enjoyed the Red Gold products and grilling recipes. They provided a flavorful alternative to the usual meals in our household, and a change which was greatly appreciated – after all, variety is the spice of life 🙂 Last but not least, they gave me the chance to experiment with one of my favorite ingredients, and to go back in time and rejoice in my happiest memories.
Red Gold is offering Chicago Loves Panini readers the chance to win a pack of Red Gold & Laura’s Lean Beef goodies similar to the one I received.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and answer the following question: What is your favorite food to cook on the grill, and why?
Giveaway open to US residents only. One entry per person. Deadline for entries is 6PM central time on July 22nd, 2015. One winner will be chosen on or around July 23rd, 2015 by using a random number generator and will have 72 hours to respond to the winner notification email. I reserve the right to pick an alternative winner if the original winner does not contact me 72 hours after receipt of winner notification email.