OK, I know what you're probably thinking...what on earth are queen tomatoes? Trust me, until half an hour ago, I had no idea myself. The first time that we went grocery shopping at our neighborhood Big C supermarket, I picked up a box of what looked like sun-dried cherry tomatoes in the produce section. I love sun-dried tomatoes and figured that they would find their way into a pasta or risotto dish, or perhaps a pesto or tapenade.
Today, I decided to make a little tapenade with these beauties, spiced up with a little bird's eye chile for a Thai touch. After blending all the ingredients in our mini food processor and giving it a taste, I was surprised to discover that the result was on the sweet side! Upon a closer look at the supposed sun-dried tomatoes, Luis remarked that they looked more like raisins or dried cranberries. Oops! Did I unknowingly make a raisin or cranberry tapenade? Peeling back the label atop the box, the mystery was solved: dehydrated queen tomatoes.
Now, I couldn't find much information on queen tomatoes but it appears that common varietals include German queen tomatoes, Livingston's golden queen tomatoes and white queen tomatoes. They are said to be meaty, intense in flavor and very sweet...just like the dried version that I picked up. The sweetness of these tomatoes mixed with the heat of the bird's eye chile (with the seeds left in), a bit of tang from rice wine vinegar and just a pinch of salt made for a wonderful combination. It just goes to show that the random foods that you sometimes unwittingly discover while living in a foreign country can make for awesome new ingredients in your kitchen! Try to find some dehydrated queen tomatoes if you can, but if you can't sun-dried tomatoes are just fine for this (after all, this was my original intention!).
We gobbled this up with slices of a wonderful sun-dried tomato and garlic sourdough bread that we had ordered from Urban Pantry, an artisanal bread company here in Bangkok that does home delivery (email email@example.com for their weekly menu and ordering details). Try it with your favorite bread or crackers or enjoy as a sandwich or bagel spread.
SPICY QUEEN TOMATO TAPENADE
Makes 1 cup
3/4 cup dehydrated queen tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated for 20 minutes and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 Thai bird's eye chile, chopped (leave the seeds in)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
A bit of water, to help the blending process (optional)
Salt, to taste
1. Using a mini food processor, blend all of the ingredients until you get a smooth tapenade.