All summer long produce goes from the Garden To The Table…Ripe Tomatoes take center stage during the last days of summer in my home. If your garden is flourishing, every flat surface in your kitchen is probably covered with tomatoes in various stages of ripening. It is one problem that most gardeners don’t seem to mind. Big, delicious, ripe heirloom tomatoes are being served at meals from morning until night.
Even though it has not been a good gardening year at our summer cottage in Maine, the other day I was able to pick about ten pounds of large heirloom tomatoes along with a nice bunch of Genovese basil. A couple of the Brandywine tomatoes were sliced, the basil shredded and placed atop pizza dough drizzled with olive oil. It was then topped with Munster and fresh mozzarella cheese, then baked in a 500 degree oven to create a Caprese pizza that reminded me of the wonderful pizzas I’ve enjoyed while traveling in Italy. Made with vine ripe heirloom tomatoes, it was much better than any pizza I have had recently from the specialty pizza restaurants.
I’ve been using the large tomatoes for one of my favorite summer sandwiches…a BLT. Slices of crisp applewood smoked bacon are placed on toasted bread that is spread with mayonnaise, topped with lettuce and thick slices of Cherokee Purple tomatoes. These large tomatoes are so big that it only takes one tomato to prepare two sandwiches.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy cherry tomatoes is to use them along with fresh basil, pine nuts and mozzarella cheese in the flavorful pasta dish called Spaghetti alla Portofino.
Of course when you are spending time in Maine, you must have lobster several times during the summer. It doesn’t get much better than a ripe Black Krim heirloom tomato stuffed with lobster salad and served on a bed of mixed greens.
I will take the last of our summer tomatoes that might not be pretty enough to layer in a beautiful caprese salad and prepare a basic fresh tomato sauce that I’ll freeze. When there is snow is on the ground, I’ll be able to thaw out frozen tomato sauce and enjoy a taste of summer when I make an Italian “gravy” for a classic Sunday Italian feast.
I hope that when you have an abundance of tomatoes that you will try some of my ideas. Taking the fresh produce from your garden to the table…using ripe tomatoes in several delicious preparations is sure to make your family and friends happy.
Like every other gardener, I am already thinking of what I will plant next year. You might be wondering if certain varieties of tomatoes did better than others in my garden this year. Yes, even though it one of the worst gardening years caused by too much rain, too many cool and gray days, I had some plants that did better than others. Next year, I will definitely be growing Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Orange Woodley heirloom tomatoes in the garden for their exceptional taste. I’ll also grow delicious Sun Gold, Sweet 100’s and Black Cherry tomatoes in large pots. We have a very short growing season in Maine and these varieties have done well. I would love to know what varieties of tomatoes you have had success growing in your garden.