Get ready for TOMATOMANIA - a harvest extravaganza ode to the tomato
by: Barb Randall, 
Oswego Garden Club’s Tomatomania Cookoff featured goodhearted competition. Every entry was delicious as well as visually stunning. Above is an entry. At the top of the picture is  the Grand Prize winning dish, Tomato Leek Bacon Tart.

Some say to-MAY-to and some may say to-MAH-to.

However you pronounce it, in my opinion few foods pack as much goodness into a bite as a homegrown tomato. Nutrition aside (they are chockfull of lycopene) I like everything about tomatoes and am grateful my husband devotes plenty of garden space to growing them. When in season, I eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Oswego Garden Club members share my love of tomatoes. Anticipating this year's tomato crop they planned Tomatomania, a celebration of homegrown tomatoes. Early last spring, members were given a tomato plant to coddle and coax through to harvest time. The best tomatoes would then be used in a tomato cookoff. All summer long they nurtured the tender plants, which included a wide range of hybrids and heirlooms, small sized cherries and larger beefsteak-sized varieties. And finally, they were ready to pluck from the vine.

The 40-plus active members were divided into teams to create either appetizers, salads or main dishes using their carefully tended produce. At their September meeting last week, the fruits of their labors were presented.

The Tomatomania cookoff entries created a visually stunning buffet. The sustaining members had the trying task of judging - every dish's evaluation included oohs and aahs of approval.

The Oswego Garden Club involves about 70 area women dedicated to learning about the art of gardening. One of the missions of the Oswego Garden Club is to inspire and support young people in their gardening experiences. They support local 4-H horticulture groups and a number of civic programs such as the Village Flower Basket program, Luscher Farm, the Spring Daffodil program at the li-brary and Lakewood Center for the Arts.

According to garden club members, tomatoes are ripening a bit later than ususal but the harvest should be strong through October. Be sure to get your fair share and more while they are fresh. Freeze, dry or can them so you can enjoy that just picked flavor all winter.

Today's recipe is the Grand Prize winner of Tomatomania, created by the members of The Early Girls team.

It is called Tomato Leek Bacon Tart.

Congralutations, ladies!

Bon Appetit - Get it from the garden!

Tomato Leek Bacon Tart

Grand Prize Winner of the Oswego Garden Club's Tomatomania Cookoff

Makes 4 to 8 servings

Vegetable cooking spray

½ of a 15-ounce package refrigerated piecrust

1 8-ounce package shredded Italian three-cheese blend, divided

3 medium leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 plum tomatoes, sliced

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

½ (21 ounce) package fully cooked bacon slices, chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon pepper

Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

Coat a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Fit piecrust into pan according to package directions. Brush the crust with egg white before baking to provide a moisture barrier.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove crust from oven; sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese blend.

Lower the oven temperature to 375º F.

Saute leeks in hot oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until tender; sprinkle over crust. Arrange tomatoes over leeks, sprinkle with basil and garlic.

Stir together the remaining 1-cup of cheese blend, chopped bacon, mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon juice and pepper in a bowl. Spoon cheese mixture over tart, spreading to the edges.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cut tart into 4 (or more) slices. Garnish with basil if desired.

Tomatomania 2008 Early Girls Team, Oswego Garden Club

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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