There are quite a few reasons why I look forward to this time of year even more than I do the sound of the ice cream truck jangling up my street. One is seeing all the young ones walking to school with their mothers; one is the last few days of warm sunshine before autumn sneaks in and it’s time to think about pumpkins. And one is tomatoes.
Having grown up about 10 feet from a tomato (and other assorted goodness) patch, I know a good tomato when I taste one. In fact, I’m so serious about them that I pretty much refuse to eat a tomato if it’s not as fresh as can be. I don’t do it for the sake of being difficult, but because I think a tomato that’s not fresh, tart, and juicy just doesn’t taste like a tomato. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, your mouth has some research to do. Get thee to a farmers’ market and load up!
Heirloom tomatoes are so much more interesting than the bland, pink tennis balls you find in submarine sandwich shops and cafeterias. There are so many varieties (I bought one yesterday called Super Fantastic!), colours (stripes on a tomato! What fun!), shapes (I like the ones that look like balled-up fists), sizes and tastes to be had. As with many of the fruits I’ve discussed here, I believe that a ripe and fresh tomato is best in its unadulterated form. I like a nice sauce, juice, or salsa as much as the next girl, but when it’s as good as they are at this time of year, I think you should savour it as is. Here’s a good recipe for a basic tomato salad. Good, fresh basil is also key, but luckily for you, it’s also in season.
Late Summer Tomato Salad
Heirloom Tomatoes, variety of your choice, chopped into large chunks (about 1 large, or equivalent, per person)
¼ cup Basil leaves, chopped loosely
½ cup (or 1 ball) buffalo mozzarella or chevre
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinaigrette (or mix your own with 3 parts oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, add basil if you like)
In a large, shallow bowl, place tomato, basil and cheese. Drizzle with dressing.