Garden Lifestyle

Tis’ the Season…for Tomatoes that is…

It is that time of summer where we have sated our first summer tomato yearnings and moved on to just-picked tomatoes lined up on the backporch waiting to be incorporated into today's menus, or processed for the cold months to come.

Summer-ripe tomatoes are in abundance now--ready for consumption--or putting up! Click on photos to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

It is that time of summer where we have sated our first summer tomato yearnings and moved on to just-picked tomatoes lined up on the backporch waiting to be incorporated into today’s menus, or processed for the cold months to come. I love having a tomato glut. Except now they are getting a little out of hand and some are still hanging on the vine with splits from the recent rain.

Tomato sandwich
  The Tomato Sandwich: Summer’s Ultimate Food

I eat a tomato sandwich almost every day of the summer. In winter months, I dream of these sandwiches and salivate–however right now, I can revel in the availability of dead-ripe succulent, juicy, red, orange and yellow tomatoes. Yum. They make me happy and my eyes shine when I eat a tomato sandwich (like they do when I eat a bowl of pasta with homemade tomato sauce). They are comfort foods for me; happy food that makes me feel content and well-fed. I am thankful for this season that offers us these mouthwatering, bursting-with-juice fruits of the earth; there is nothing quite like a summer-ripe tomato.

Besides tomato sandwiches, I am enjoying tomatoes in a variety of ways. Probably the herb most used for partnering with tomatoes is basil, however tomatoes are delectable with arugula, chives, dill, marjoram or oregano, mint, thyme, tarragon and savory. Besides strewing them with herbs, I enjoy them in antipasto with mozzarella and basil, tossed in green salads, alone or with other ingredients on sandwiches, added to pasta, rice and couscous, stirred into squash, okra, green bean, eggplant and corn dishes, made into cold soups, hot soups, sauces, oven-roasted, grilled, baked and stuffed, made into tarts, bloody marys, and salsas.


Homemade salsa ingredients

Quick and Easy Homemade Salsa

Salsas are the ultimate summer food. They combine garden-ripe tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs with my other favorite hot season crop: chile peppers! Yahoo! I grow the latter from mild to wild. I am an aficionado of the capsicum and I enjoy the milder jalapenos to the medium-hot serrano right on to the incendiary habanero and all of those chiles in between. I make salsas all summer long and also make batches large enough to can so that I have them during the winter months. Opening a jar of salsa on a cold day during the winter, is like opening a jar of warm hot sunshine; the combination of hot chiles and sweet tart tomatoes are warming and titillating. So gather ye’ tomatoes and chile peppers while ye’ may and put them up for some cold weather sunshine.

While you are out and about the garden, gather some squash, maybe some green beans or eggplant and saute, grill or steam them and add them to some cooked pasta for a delicious pasta salad. Add chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, olive oil and some herbs, and voila, you have a quick an easy dinner. A tidbit of advice that I learned about flavoring pasta salad from one of Julia Child’s cookbooks way back when is to drain the pasta in a colander and immediately drizzle the hot pasta with olive oil, squeeze a clove or two of fresh garlic over it and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to combine and let cool before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you follow this simple step, you will never serve a lackluster, dull pasta salad–it really makes all the difference in the world. That said, make some pasta salad this week, eat a tomato sandwich (over the sink is best) and click on the following link to take you to my Quick and Easy Homemade Salsa recipe. Here’s to a celebrating the season and happy juicy eating!

More ways to serve tomatoes…
Pasta salad   Fried Green Tomatoes
Pasta salad made with garden squash and onions, greenbeans and tomatoes, garnished with fresh herbs is a quick and tasty summer supper.   Fried green tomatoes can be eaten as an appetizer, alone, or with a garlic aioli or corn salsa.


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