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Peel tomatoes the right way

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(CBS News) I love cooking with tomatoes. Admittedly, I always have relied on the canned variety of unseasoned sauce and chopped tomatoes for my homemade pasta sauces, soups and chili.

But, now that I'm in culinary school, the can will have to stay in the cabinet. Week one, and my home cooking habits  already have changed. 

Video: Peel tomatoes the right way

We learned a great and super-easy technique to peel tomatoes. The fresh tomatoes added an extra burst of flavor to the vegetable ragout  we made in class. Nobody wants little pieces of leathery skin floating around in their food...eww.

Knowing how to peel them is really the key in knowing how to cook with them. Watch the video to learn how to peel your tomatoes!

You can use this technique to emonder (peel!) your tomatoes for our vegetable ragout recipe that we made in class. Trust me, it's so good!

Ratatouille
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Yield: 4-6 Servings

  • 2 tomatoes, emonder (you know what that means now!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice, optional
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Parsley sprigs
  • 2 Thyme sprigs
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Basil Leaves
  • 1 cup eggplant, chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • S+P
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Directions:

1. Emonder the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds, chop flesh

2. Strain the seeds and save the juice, add just enough water to the tomato juice to yield 1/2 cup of liquid, set aside. (Or just use the store-bought tomato juice. I'd do it! Doesn't matter either way - the juice of the tomato works just as well.)

3. Heat oil in small pot, add onion and sweat for 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook another 5 minutes. Include the tomato flesh and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Season the vegetables lightly as they are added to the pot.

4. Pour in the tomato juice (or fresh juice/water mixture) along with the garlic and herbs. Cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.

5. Meanwhile, place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let it disgorge (fancy French term meaning let the water drain out), while continuing with the recipe.

6. Heat 1/3 of the remaining oil in a wide saute pan until very hot, and add the zucchini. Saute until lightly golden and then transfer to a colander to drain.

7. Dry the eggplant well with paper towels. Heat the remainder of the oil in the same saute pan and saute the eggplant until golden. Drain the eggplant.

8. Add the zucchini and eggplant to the vegetables and continue to cook for 15 minutes so that all the vegetables are completely tender and their flavors have molded. Remove the parsley stems, thyme stems and bay leaf. Adjust the seasoning.

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