If you’re looking for a unique dip to take to your next party, I have you covered. (Or if you’re looking for an easy/delicious summer meal, this dip would be a perfect for that too, along with some crusty bread, good olives, a green salad, and Italian cheese.)
Like I mentioned in my post on Spanakopita Puffs, I’ve been craving tomatoes nonstop lately, probably because I’ve been starting to see roadside farmers’ stands stocked with fresh, local tomatoes pop up all over the place. I’m a huge sucker for in-season tomatoes…and I love the look of pride and passion on a farmer’s face when he hands me a basket of homegrown tomatoes, glistening like jewels. Those are the tomatoes I eat out of hand, or sliced and dressed with nothing but a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
But when I’m feeling creative, I made them into things like this dip.
I like to serve this with bread for dipping. Fresh bread is great, but for this I like toasted even better. To toast the bread, I slice good quality bread into 1/4-inch thick slices. Lay the bread out in an even layer on a baking sheet, brush a little oil on the top, broil until golden on top, and then flip the bread over and repeat. Once the bread is toasted you can flavor it any way you like: rub it with a clove of raw garlic or sprinkle on fresh grated black pepper, minced herbs (like thyme or rosemary), or fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Yields about 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small-medium onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb (about 3 medium) very ripe tomatoes, finely diced (with juices)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, Italian herb seasoning, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Turn heat up to high and let the juices come to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low, cover the skillet, and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash the tomatoes in the skillet with a potato masher; stir in the tomato paste and cook (uncovered) until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat, cool slightly, and stir in the cheese and basil. Serve with bread (fresh or toasted) for dipping.
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This post is about much more than just a recipe though. There is something going on in today’s tomato industry that needs to be addressed…
Slavery is not just happening overseas. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato field “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. In the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.
But there is a Recipe for Change. The Fair Food Program, developed by tomato pickers themselves through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, establishes a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor, and serious sexual harassment on Florida’s tomato farms. Recipe for Change – a campaign led by International Justice Mission in partnership with the Fair Food Standards Council and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers – is targeting three major supermarket chains this summer (Ahold, Publix, and Kroger’s), and asking its CEOs to support the Fair Food Program. Corporations that join agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (1.5 cents more per pound), and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these higher standards – and away from those who won’t.
Major fast food companies, like McDonalds and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program, but the largest U.S. supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.
So, what can you do? Please start by taking a few seconds to raise your voice and sign your name to help ensure that supermarket tomatoes are slave-free. And please make sure the tomatoes you purchase are slave-free (slave-free tomatoes are currently available from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, your local farmers or farmers’ market, or your local CSA).
Thanks to my readers for taking the time to read this post. Also, special thanks to Nicole (The Giving Table) for her tremendous time and effort in getting this message out.