Rick’s mother, Kath Wise, regularly served tomatoes lightly sauteed and blanketed in a lush, sour cream sauce, as a hot dish. So did Kath’s sister, Rick’s beloved Aunt Joy. There was a titter of family dispute over who made up the dish, Kath or Joy, both claiming to be the first. No matter the true answer, they made it pretty much the same way, with sour cream, a touch of Worchestershire sauce, and no herb. In our house today, Rick changes the sour cream to our homemade yogurt and adds tarragon for a nuance of northern Europe in an unusual pairing with America’s ruby jewel, juicy tomatoes. Oh, and a sprinkle of dried chili flakes kicks it up to California!
But, most important, the tomatoes must be fresh and organic. That’s not out of the question because of the new hybrid variety, kumatos, which, while not as deliriously happy-making as heirloom tomatoes in summer, prove themselves more than suitable for meals in other seasons. We rely on the dish as default to go with, and sauce, hamburgers, roast beef, pasta, sauteed chicken breast…, year round.
Serves 2 to 4
1 small tomato, chopped, not too fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium tomatoes, cored and halved through the equator line
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Greek-style yogurt, whisked smooth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. If doing Step 3 in a conventional oven, preheat the oven to 325º F.
2. Warm the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped tomato and the tomato halves, bottoms down, and cook until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Turn over the tomato halves and cook until soft but still holding their shape, 10 to 15 minutes more. Lift out the tomato halves and place them in an oven or microwave dish. Set aside.
3. Add the butter to the saute pan, let it melt, then turn the heat to low. Add the yogurt, Worchestershire sauce, tarragon, chili flakes, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir to mix. Pour the pan ingredients over the tomatoes in the dish.
4. Place the dish in the oven or microwave and cook until the juices are just starting to bubble, about 5 to 10 minutes in the oven or 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave, depending on the ripeness and variety of the tomatoes. Serve hot.