I recently visited an enormous fresh produce distribution company and they gave me some kumatoes. I must admit that I was not too sure about these as a “gift” since they did not look real enticing; sort of a brownish color with some green thrown in. What in the world do I do with these?
Our host at the produce company, an accomplished chef and food distribution veteran, assured me that once I got past the looks I would be hooked on kumatoes.
Boy, was he ever right!
This rather pricey variety of tomato is very sweet and tasty. Considered a gourmet variety, kumatoes have a longer shelf life than most tomatoes, but they are not as widely distributed as standard tomatoes. In fact, kumatoes are grown as a “club” variety, meaning only licensed growers who go through a rigorous screening process get the seeds and the patent owner maintains control from cultivation to marketing. Just as the kumato growers are chosen in limited numbers, the distributors and even the retail markets that sell kumatoes to the consumer are highly regulated by the patent holder.
True kumatoes will most likely never be grown in your backyard garden, or by local farmers, due to this strict control, but there are some hybrid competitors that have been introduced such as the Black Velvet tomato that hopefully will make it easier to find this delicious but unusual looking type of tomato in stores.
Kumatoes are grown in Spain (where they were developed), France, Belgium, Holland, Switzer-land, Canada and Mexico. The kumatoes given to me came from a Canadian grower, which most likely is the grower for the majority of kumatoes in the U.S.
I have not found kumatoes in Rome, but a few specialty grocery stores in Atlanta carry them, and you can find them in many good restaurants that use specialty produce distributors. A great substitute for the sweet taste of kumatoes is a box of Gourmet Medley tomatoes. This medley has sweet yellow and red tomatoes of various sizes and shapes, many of which are raised under conditions similar to kumatoes, so they have that fresh summer taste we all love in tomatoes. Be ready to pay a lot for the Gourmet Medley, too, but sometimes it is just worth it to have a great tomato!
Here are some recipes that call for kumatoes; however, given their scarcity, you can substitute any good tomato. And be sure to try them when our summer tomato crop comes in, whether from your garden or the local farmer. Enjoy!
Blue Cheese and Tomato (Kumato) Salad Serves 4
Note: crumbled bacon bits are a nice addition to this salad! And feel free to change this up a bit by placing fresh tender salad greens in a bowl, toss with dressing, and top with the salad ingredients including bacon.
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 Tbsp. garlic, finely minced
1 cup olive oil (preferred) or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. thyme, fresh, leaves only
to taste kosher salt and pepper
6 to 7 kumato tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 to 2 small red onions, thinly sliced, peeled, separated into several rings
6 to 8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup spiced walnuts or pecans, prepared
1/2 small bunch Chives, fresh, cut into 1/2” pieces
1. To prepare the salad dressing, whisk the vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Add all remaining ingredients, except the olive oil and seasonings, whisking dressing as you add each ingredient. Add the oil very slowly, whisking well to emulsify the vinegar with the oil. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Cover and chill.
2. To prepare the salad, begin by placing kumato tomatoes slices in a circular pattern around a luncheon or salad size plate, alternating each tomato slice with a red onion ring. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, circling around the plate. Drizzle tomatoes and onions with a small amount of dressing. Sprinkle the bleu cheese, spiced nuts and chives over the top of each salad. Drizzle with additional dressing. Serve immediately with additional dressing on the side.
Note: this is a great summer dessert, a nice snack, or works well as palate cleanser between courses.
6 kumato tomatoes
1/3 c sugar
5 ice cubes
juice of 1 lemon
Remove the skin and seeds from the kumato tomatoes. Mix them with ice cubes, lemon juice and sugar in a blender for 5 minutes until smooth. Serve centered on plates or in bowls, or in martini glasses garnished with fresh mint leaves. Very pretty!
Serves 6 to 8 as appetizers
6 to 8, 4”- 6” long cocktail picks or thin bamboo skewers
3 to 4 kumato tomatoes
8 to 10 slices (3 oz.) prosciutto, thinly sliced, 6” x 2” strips
24 to 32 large leaves arugula, stems removed
2 small ciabatta rolls, cubed 1/2” x 1/2”, leave crust on one edge
garnish garlic aioli, optional for dipping
1. Slice kumato tomatoes in half and each half into 3 wedges.
2. Lay prosciutto strips on flat surface and roll up tightly into a log shape. Slice each roll in half, creating 2 pieces.
3. Using the end of the skewer, hold a tomato wedge horizontally and pierce through the skin. Place two arugula leaves on top of each other, and slide onto skewer, pushing leaf down to the to-mato. Push skewer through one rolled piece of prosciutto.
4. To finish the presentation, slide a cube of ciabatta bread, piercing through the crust, onto the end of the skewer. Repeat this procedure with all remaining ingredients on the other skewers. Serve the “BLT’s” arranged in wheel fashion around a bowl of prepared garlic aioli, using the aioli as a dip for the skewers.