TOMATO DIARIES PART I: SALAD
I worked at farmer’s markets for three years, and while we grew a variety of crops, when tomatoes came in, all bets were off. People showed up earlier and earlier and lines snaked through our tent. We couldn’t keep the tomatoes supplied fast enough, even with two of us on the task. Boxes were sorted by variety and color, with Pink Brandywines blending into Green Zebras and ending with big fat Cherokee Purples. We grew heirlooms, cherry tomatoes, occasionally San Marzanos, and Early Girls.
I learned a lot about tomatoes over those three years, from acidity contents to storing them properly to why you never put them in the fridge. But mostly I ate tomatoes. Sampling them at markets, deciding which ones were best after what weather conditions, taking them home by the flat so I could experiment in the kitchen.
That’s why this summer, I’m going to devote all three months to these beautiful gems. It’s all tomatoes, all the time.
Insalata Caprese is one of my most favorite summer foods. It’s light, refreshing and involves fresh mozzarella (!). A few years ago I had it with sliced fresh peaches and it was outstanding.
Sound familiar? I’ve written about tomatoes before! Learn more about varieties and storage tips and check out a great recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes from past Market Guides.
Caprese Salad with Two Summer Fruits
- 1 large heirloom tomato (or 4 Early Girls)
- 1 ripe peach
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Dash or two of good balsamic vinegar
- A few torn basil leaves
As you can tell from the not-so-exact recipe, there are no hard and fast rules here – add more or less of anything to suite your tastes. Slice up tomato, peach and mozzarella. Layer on plate in a circle so that you alternate between the different flavors. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and splash a little balsamic on top. Tear up fresh basil and sprinkle over the top. Adjust for seasoning and enjoy! Particularly good with crusty bread or a well seasoned steak.