Tomato season! Love it! We plant, we wait and wait, and WAIT! And suddenly the kitchen counters are covered in an abundance of tomatoes. Garden tomatoes. Sun kissed. Colorful. AND so delicious. Worth the wait? Oh my YES!
On OF’s Farm at the Sidewalk House, Farmer Ken grows a variety of (mostly heirloom) tomatoes; each year some favorites and each year some new to us. The first tomatoes of the season are served simply sliced and salted. Heavenly. Then begins an ever changing buffet of favorites:
- Eat Over the Sink Sandwiches ~ white bread, mayonnaise, and tomatoes (juice running down our chins!). What says Summer better!
- BLT sandwiches ~ do you prefer the (homemade) bread toasted? Mayo? Mustard? Avocado?
- Salsas ~ Fresh and Roasted. Tacos, fajitas, quesadillas ~ scrambled egg taco with roasted salsa!
- Bruschetta with tomato topping ~ Colorful and scrumptious!
- Gazpacho ~ Not sure if I prefer the Mexican or the Spanish ~ fortunately there’s plenty of opportunity for both before the season is over.
- Pasta with Pomodoro Crudo (fresh tomato sauce) ~ so many variations.
- Salad Caprese! Now that mozzarella di bufala is available. (Fess up, Y’all. How many of you assembled the salad with the stiff, low moisture mozz? It was all that was available back in the day so how could we know?) I did not become a fan of said salad until fresh mozzarella became available. What a difference! Be it buffalo or cow’s milk mozz ~ only fresh will do.
- Fried Green tomatoes.
- And of course we toss lots of tomatoes into our garden salads.
Those are the absolutes each season. And then there is the secondary list of favorite dishes as well as new ones to try. Depending on the varieties and number of plants, we freeze, roast, and/or “sun” dry tomatoes and sauces for winter use. Near the end of the season ~ when we have a super crop or when an early frost is predicted ~ 7 pounds of totally green tomatoes become sweet pickles (unfortunately not this year.) We never tire of this wonderful fruit and the myriad ways of preparing it.
Meet Chef Luigi. He looks over the harvest. Farmer Ken has picked cucumbers, chiles, and tomatoes. Chef decides with the abbondazza of tomatoes he will first prepare Pasta with Pomodoro Crudo. He sends his sous chef and an apprentice off to gather ingredients.
To the root cellar for garlic harvested in July. To the pantry for olive oil and cappellini. To the cheese cave for Parmagiano Reggiano. To the garden for a bouquet of basils. And to the wine cellar for a bottle of Chianti. Pasta with fresh tomato sauce ~ a classic!
Many years ago before Martha Stewart was Martha, she wrote a column for House Beautiful magazine. It was called Quick Cook; each month a single recipe was featured. I was intrigued by a recipe for fresh tomato sauce on pasta. We tried it. We liked it. For years, when our tomatoes were at their peak, we pulled out that tattered clipping. Over the years many magazines, cookbooks, and cooking blogs have featured variations of this (originally) Italian dish. It really doesn’t need a recipe ~ just mix the ingredients to your own taste.
This year, just for fun, Chef chose a variety of colored tomatoes ~ Stupice, Juanne Flamme, Garden Peach, and Green Zebra ~ with a few Black Cherry. All delicious on their own and what a colorful sauce they make all mixed together.
Cappellini Pomodoro Crudo ~Hot pasta, cool sauce ~ mixed colors or all red, Pasta with Pomodora Crudo is simple, quick, and delicious ~ it screams summer.
Not one to dilly dally, Chef turned his attention to Bruschetta with Tomato. Also simple. Basically the same ingredients as above ~ remove the pasta and insert bread. Instead of chopping the garlic into the sauce, slices of baguette are lightly brushed with olive oil, then grilled (or lightly toasted), and finally rubbed with fresh garlic cloves. Top with the tomato mixture! A popular and delicious starter. Or for the two of us, a meal!
Pesto stuffed Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomatoes ~ one of the season’s best on our secondary list. The way Farmer Ken raved about his supper last night, makes me think we should have Luigi move it to our absolutes list. Another quick and easy preparation.
Now what about those cucumbers and chiles the farmer brought in? Chef promises a bowl of gazpacho in the near future. Mexican? Or Spanish? Maybe both ~ because it is the season of Abbondazza in the tomato garden at the Sidewalk House.
Buon Apetito, y’all!