Everybody’s happy.

I try very hard to avoid predictability. I chide myself when it happens, all the while ignoring the fact that everyone else is also constantly clawing their way out of predictability, rendering our collective efforts ultimately quite… predictable.

Not that I dislike predictability – it’s a necessary part of getting along in one’s life and structuring accordingly one’s more subversive, spontaneous activities. But it turns out I’m just now getting comfortable with that reality; with coexisting with predictability, and respecting it for its comforting – and yes, even restorative – properties.

Case in point: Tomato guts vinaigrette. Sneakily mellow and almost seductive in how good it is, here’s my true confession: I do not have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I have whisked this together in the last few months.  When in doubt: tomato guts.  When trying to impress: tomato guts.  “Hay gra, what’s for dinner?  OH WAIT, let me guess.  Tomato guts.”

You see?  Predictable.  But srzly:  So, so good.

I learned about tomato guts vinaigrette about a year ago, when my good friend Anna told us of a mythical salad her stepmother, a kitchen goddess, “always feeds me when I’m being ornery.” Anna is a lovely creature and it’s hard to imagine her being ornery, but I won’t argue – if it weren’t for these supposed spells we would not be here today, lauding the virtues of tomato guts…

… To which, I must now explain, I had up until recently been quite averse. For years, I had endured the slings and arrows of outrageous shame: Being Italian and not liking fresh tomatoes. It wasn’t for lack of trying, certainly. But what my beloved grandfather would refer to as the gagoots (traditionally a slangy term for a zucchini, but you can see where, when cooked, their consistency might comparable to the boogery-ness of a tomato) would get the better of me every time – like many folks, it wasn’t so much the flesh itself as the texture of the goopy guts inside that I couldn’t handle. Thus began a self-driven regimen toward Liking Tomatoes, Or At Least Not Having to Be That Ass Who Has to Ask for Everything Without Them. Being an adventurous eater and having fun with food began to be an important project for me, and I just couldn’t see a future in foodie-ism without first reconciling myself with tomatoes.

So I started making this tomato guts vinaigrette. And you guys: IT. IS. A JAM. As you might have predicted, repurposing the gagoots into a liquid dressing component is a completely successful strategy for disarming the tomato. The dressing is really, really mellow – even if you decide to put a bit of garlic in it (which I do sometimes) – and the vinegar actually helps to break down the goopiness of the tomato guts so the end result is smooth and utterly approachable for even the orneriest of Annas.
You might ask how one extracts the tomato guts from the tomato. I’m a little surprised you ask this, if you know me, because you know that many of my techniques are utterly unrefined, and this one is no exception. You slice a tomato – a small kind, like a Roma or a little vine tomato – in half and, holding your prey over a bowl, jam your finger into the guts, scraping out the liquid and seeds into the receptacle below. Slice and repeat.  Whisk in some dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, fresh garlic if you wanna, and olive oil.  Keep beating it up til the tomato seeds are separated and there are no “guts” left to speak of.
Oh, “what’s that?”, you ask?  Are those… tomatoes sitting in the vinaigrette??
Oh yeah.  So, to add to the already visceral delight of this project – an icky, strange joy that is, to me, reminiscent of the Halloween fair in 3rd grade where you reach into a shoebox and touch a peeled grape that your art teacher claims is an eyeball – you might consider marinating the tomato slices in their vinaigrette.  And yeah, this also feels weirdly and sort of hilariously cannibalistic in a Veggie-Tales-gone-horribly-awry kind of way.  But it makes for some good tomato eatin’, which is really the point of this whole exercise.

Comments

  1. Yes, beautiful! Happy, indeed.

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