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Rosso Sicilian Heirloom Tomatoes
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The deep red (rosso means red) color and unique shape make the Rosso Sicilian a striking tomato. A small fruit that maxes out at six ounces and about three inches across, the Rosso Sicilian becomes even more attractive upon slicing, as its pumpkin-like ridges give the slices a floral appearance, with each “rib” resembling a petal. The Rosso Sicilian’s flesh is the same rich color as its skin and is firm and nearly seedless. The Rosso Sicilian’s thin skin is quick to bruise, so handle this tomato with care.
Rosso Sicilian tomatoes are available in summer and fall.
Rosso Sicilian tomatoes are botanically classified as Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Rosso Sicilian. Tomatoes, like peppers, potatoes, and eggplants, belong to the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family. Because of the fruit’s deeply ridged body, rosso Sicilian tomatoes are in the costoluto (Italian for “ribbed”) group of tomatoes. These heirlooms are also classified as “sauce” and “paste” tomatoes as they lend themselves well to cooking. Rosso Sicilian tomatoes are not easily found, but they are prized by growers for their flavor, appearance, and fast ripening time.
Rosso Sicilian tomatoes are rich in nutrients. Like all tomatoes, they contain an abundance of vitamins (including C, K, and A). Because Rosso Sicilians are typically cooked down into sauce or paste they are a wonderful source of lycopene, the famous antioxidant found in tomatoes which is best absorbed by the body when cooked.
The large amount of pith in a Rosso Sicilian tomato, along with its stiff flesh and lack of seeds, make it perfect for use in sauces and pastes. It is also a wonderful tomato to dry, due to its low moisture content, fantastic flavor, and lack of seeds. Though the flavor of the Rosso Sicilian is at its best when processed, it also makes a lovely tomato to serve raw, due especially to its gorgeous contours which are so beautifully displayed when sliced.
The Rosso Sicilian tomato is an heirloom that arrived in the United States from Sicily in 1987. While the age of the Rosso Sicilian cultivar is unknown, tomatoes have been present in this autonomous region of Italy since the 1500’s, when they landed on the island from the “new world.”
Though the Lycopersicon genus originated in the Andes along with its cousin, the potato, the closest relative to the tomato that adorns our dishes and salads was first cultivated by the Aztecs in present-day Mexico. It was there that the Spanish first encountered the tomato during their invasion of Central America. They were initially suspicious of the fruit due to its bright red color, but observed the Aztecs eating it with no adverse side effects. They too began eating it and found it to be not only non-toxic but also juicy and toothsome enough to send back to Spain. Once the tomato landed in their home country it began spreading throughout the rest of Europe. While many Europeans had an aversion to tomatoes, believing them to be poisonous, Sicily adopted the tomato readily and quickly incorporated it into its cuisine. Today, tomatoes have become so synonymous with Italian cuisine that it is difficult to imagine there ever being a time when they were not known in the country. There are at least 320 unique cultivars of tomatoes that are commonly grown on Italian farms, many of which continue to be produced in Sicily, where the climate is perfectly suited to the tropical fruit.
Recipes that include Rosso Sicilian Heirloom Tomatoes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|How Sweet Eats||Heirloom Tomato, Avocado and Burrata Salad on Grilled Garlic Toast|
|Flourishing Foodie||Heirloom Tomato and Avocado, Rice and Black Bean Bowl with Garlic Chive CrÃ©me FraÃ®che|