Here come the tomatoes! In addition to our delicious field varieties of tomatoes, this week’s shares will contain a taste of our heirlooms.
Heirloom tomatoes are old varieties that are notoriously difficult to grow. They are more susceptible to diseases, and irregular and unpredictable in shape, size, and color. They’re prone to splitting and scarring. When you see them, you can understand why they are not the best choice for commercial growers supplying supermarkets – they are too unreliable to grow and they don’t have a very long shelf life. Nothing compares, however, to the beautiful flavor of a midsummer vine-ripened heirloom tomato. Our experiment growing heirlooms in our high tunnel this summer has paid off and we are thrilled to share this rare and wonderful treat with you!
A Country Divided
You only have to look at the tomato to see how our country is divided. In New Jersey, the tomato is the state vegetable but in Ohio and Tennessee, it is considered the state fruit. Arkansas stays neutral by declaring the tomato the state fruit and the state vegetable. This heated controversy was brought to the US Supreme Court in 1893. At that time, the tomato became a legal vegetable. Botanically, the tomato is considered a fruit because it has seeds. Nutritionally, it has the profile of a vegetable. Whether a fruit or a vegetable, we can all agree that the fresh farm tomatoes are delicious. They are packed with folate, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. They also contain one of the most famous antioxidants around… lycopene! A lot of research has linked lycopene with decreased cancer and heart disease risk.
SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD
Here is a simple tomato salad that will showcase this superb vegetable… I mean, fruit!
- 4 cups of chopped tomatoes
- 3 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 ½ Tbl sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) optional
Mix together and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Occasionally, I will add a little (¼ cup) olive oil. The oil actually increases the lycopene absorption.
ANOTHER SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD(AKA CAPRESE SALAD)
Here is another variation on the simple tomato salad theme. This works great as an appetizer or snack. The amount it makes depends on how many cheese/tomato slices you want to make and eat.
Slice some fresh mozzarella cheese about 1/4 inch thick (pre-sliced mozzarella works perfectly for this)
Add a similarly-sized tomato slice on top of each cheese slice
Top with basil leaves (cut into slivers or left whole–your choice)
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
ANOTHER SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD MASQUERADING AS A SANDWICH
I first had this classic sandwich years ago in a now defunct sub shop in Central Square, Cambridge, called “Il Panino.” It was their signature sandwich. After the first bite, it became one of my favorite sandwiches of all times and I make it often every tomato season. It really works best with garden fresh tomatoes. Here is how it goes:
Take the ingredients in the caprese salad recipe above. Put it all, along with 2-3 slices of prosciutto, either in a 6-inch baguette section (sliced in half the long way, but not all the way through so it holds everything in better) or in between 2 slices of your favorite bread–sourdough is wonderful, here. Enjoy!