Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tomatoes - Summer's Gift of a Cool Saturation of Flavor

Garden Perfection
I realize that we see tomatoes in the markets year round, but I truly believe that they are there only to serve as a reminder of what we are really waiting for, a recipe or dish made with tomatoes ripened to such perfection that the redness is not just on the surface, but infused to the core of the fruit. Until around July, the ingredient missing most in these pretenders to the throne of taste is the heady scent that only the sun can lend to the skin and flesh of a native-grown tomato that ripens outdoors. Oh sure, you can buy a "vine-ripened" imposter that has been raised in a greenhouse, bathed in warmth. But there is nothing like a locally harvested gem begging for you to taste its lusciousness and recall how Summer truly tastes. Meander and hunt for them in farmers’ markets, or beg some from a friend who grows them if you don't have a patch of your own. Look up local farms in your area that sell them and gather a few, savoring the simplicity and purity that only a tomato raised in the heat of the sun can provide. I remove the skin by plunging the tomatoes into hot water for a minute or two; it is not too much trouble to do and allows them to soak up more of the grassiness and "olive-y" flavor of a perfect extra virgin olive oil.
This simple salad reminds me of my childhood experiences of sitting around the table on a late Summer afternoon. My father breaking into a loaf of freshly baked Italian bread and the family gathered around my grandmother’s dining room table. I can still instantly recall the sight and perfume of that heavenly puddle of greenish oil and pink tomato juice in bottom of the cracked black and white bowl with the farm scene on it. I would gladly help clear the table and carry the bowl into the kitchen and drink up what was left of that mid-Summer treasure hidden from view from those still seated in the dining room. Now I am happy to eat just this as a meal in itself, especially this month when locally grown vegetables reach their zenith of flavor. Some tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, maybe a bare sprinkle of a good balsamic vinegar to wake up the palette and a scatter of fresh oregano leaves. Light and simple. Summer is at hand and the vigor and brightness that it brings to our tables can only be summed up in the simplicity of that word - Tomato.
Jewels Fit for a Crown


  1. Yum! That sounds wonderful, lately we've been indulging in the pleasure that is the tomato sandwich!

  2. Kaoa, one of the simplest and richest pleasures of Summer that I know of - A Tomato sandwich! Completely agree with you.

  3. The Tomatoes in the greenhouse(they can only be grown here in a greenhouse) are getting ripe on a dailey basis so, BLT may be the thing this week!!!

  4. Sounds great Dean. With all this talk, I think they'll be on the mnue here as well!