Friday, June 27, 2008

Tomato Time

Sweet. Tangy. Juicy. Meaty. It's tomato time in our garden.

I measure the success or failure of a vegetable garden by whether the tomato crop is good.

This is a successful year. Even if we've had to share more than we wanted with the rabbits and mockingbirds. The Pilot Guy's dad used to say that a summer where you could go to the garden with a salt shaker and enjoy the tomatoes was a good one.

One of my favorite summer lunches is Caprese Salad. Light and refreshing, this salad showcases fresh garden ingredients and is simple to make.
Caprese Salad
One or two fresh tomatoes. Homegrown or vine ripened from your local farmer's market are best.
Fresh mozzarella. We like good fresh mozzarella. We usually buy ours at Central Market, but I found good quality at Sam's Club last summer. You just have to buy a lot at Sam's. The amount of cheese you use depends on how many tomatoes you use. If your ball of mozzarella is smaller than a tennis ball, you'll use at least a third or half with your two tomatoes.
Basil leaves. Nothing goes better with tomatoes than fresh basil. Two or three inch long leaves snipped into strips should be enough. If you don't grow your own basil, you can find bunches at the grocery store. Try growing your own. It's easy. By the way, this is not the time to drag out the dried stuff from the pantry. Caprese Salad is all about fresh ingredients.
Red onion. A few thinly sliced pieces of red onion sprinkled in will add a needed kick.
Salt and Pepper.

Slice or chunk the tomatoes and cheese into hearty pieces. Snip the basil over the tomatoes. Add the thinly sliced onion. Stir if you have chunks. Leave it alone if you have pretty slices to arrange. Add salt and a few grinds of pepper.

We don't dress this any other way. I've tried olive oil and balsamic vinegar and enjoyed it. By far the best way to eat this is without anything. A hunk of rustic bread is nice for sopping up the juices in the bottom of the plate.

In my next post, I'll add a couple more of our favorite tomato recipes. Until then, I hope you can find a taste of summer tomatoes.

See you in the garden....

3 Other Creative Souls are Saying:

DebD said...

Looks Yummy! We had such a cool spring ours are still in flower mode. I'm hoping I"ll get at least one or two before we leave for vacation next month!

Rose said...

Oh boy, Deb! Those vegetables are so beautiful. I can almost smell those tomatoes from here. We haven't planted yet, it's been so cold and rainy here. We've only had two days that raised sweat on my brow and two of them were this week.

Becky said...


There is nothing I love more than fresh tomatoes, although I have to say I have never tasted one that tastes as good as those grown in the Mississippi Delta where I grew up--something about that fertile, black dirt. The kind that are so good that mayo and bread are all you need! I cannot wait to try this delicious-sounding recipe. I'm off to that produce stand on Davis Rd. in a bit for blackberries for a cobbler, so I'm going to pick up some tomatoes for this recipe.

I love to make cards, and a couple of summers ago when I visited Little Rock, my brother (recently deceased) and I went to their wonderful farmers' market there. When I got home I sent him a card with tomatoes on the front and a verse I found from John Denver about tomatoes. I would like to share it with you:

"Home grown tomatoes,
home grown tomatoes.
What would life be like without
homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy.
That's true love and
home grown tomatoes."

(John Denver, "Home Grown Tomatoes")