Remember when the supermarket had a three-foot wooden bin of tomatoes? And, there was a time when tomatoes were a sure sign of summer because that was the only time you could get them?
If you’ve noticed lately, tomatoes are available all the time, although summer is still the best time to get them. During the hot summer months (usually starting late July) and early fall, you should immediately go wild in your kitchen making everything from Chilled Gazpacho to Mozzarella & Tomato Salads. These days, tomatoes come in every size, shape and color, from little golf ball-sized Sweet 1000’s to giant beefsteak tomatoes that can cover a plate with one slice. Then there are grape tomatoes, eggplant-shaped Romas, and beautiful round Campari tomatoes still attached to the vine. That’s just for starters.
Indulge yourself with some heirloom tomatoes; these are tomato varieties that were popular years ago and are coming back into favor. Check out your local farmers market and you'll see that they come in dozens of shapes and colors from lime green, to vivid yellow, and even a ruddy black. They are all good and make our summer food lives that much more interesting.
Of all the summer star ingredients, tomatoes are for the food purist. They should be worshipped as is and not fooled around with too much. A beautiful tomato needs only to be sliced, drizzled with some fabulous extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkled with coarse salt and eaten out of hand.
Allowing us all some kitchen creativity, here are a couple of simple recipes that showcase the tomato's glory, but still allow it to be the star ingredient.