“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” — Lewis Grizzard
Tomato season has arrived and local farm markets are brimming with sensational, seasonal fruit of all sizes, shapes and colors. At the market you may find tomatoes that are deep red and rotund, or petite poppers of bright orange and yellow, dusky purple or pale pink heirlooms, or pale green orbs just the right size for breading and pan frying, or pureeing for cake batter.
A wildly popular component of the American diet year round, seasonal summer tomatoes are now at the pinnacle of perfection. Richly ripe, and saturated with sun soaked sweetness, tomatoes are a conscious cooks’ dream ingredient. Sliced thickly and seasoned with just a spritz of sea salt, tomatoes embody the sun, each heat soaked slice rendering fabulous flavor.
Once considered toxic, tomatoes supposedly became an accepted ingredient in 1820, when a sea captain consumed a basket of tomatoes in front of a large crowd. When he survived his sizeable snack, the spectators were won over to the fruit and have consumed them copiously ever since. While the tomato is the fruit of a flowering plant, it is considered a vegetable for culinary use, and was designated a vegetable by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1893!
Tomatoes provide a superior source of lycopene, a powerful, natural antioxidant that may have the capability of offering protection against sunburn and certain cancers. High in fiber, tomatoes may benefit the body by being a cholesterol lowering food and a blood sugar stabilizer. Among their other significant health benefits, consuming tomatoes may help repair lungs damaged by bad air or cigarette smoking, combat heart disease, save vision, and provide anti-aging nourishment for the brain.
Beautiful and beneficial, tomatoes are an ever so versatile crop. Whether chopped into sauces and salsas, blended into silky bisques or soups, piled on platters and paired with creamy fresh mozzarella or tangy goat cheese and finished off with a shower of fresh basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil, layered with zucchini, eggplant and fresh herbs and baked until bubbling, tomatoes make a sublime summer meal.
Savor summer’s heat as you prepare a delicious life!
Hot Tomato Toast
Makes 8 servings
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt or Kosher salt
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 pound of tomatoes (use any variety, super sweet cherry tomatoes would be lovely)washed and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices of sturdy bread, baguette, ciabatta, etc. cut about 1 inch thick
1 cup of chopped fresh herbs ( basil, parsley, chives, thyme or any of your favorites)
2 very ripe avocados, peeled and mashed
Mix garlic together with a pinch of salt in a bowl and mash with a fork to make a paste. Add half of olive oil and vinegar. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Let sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors.
Meanwhile prepare a grill for medium high heat. Brush both sides of the bread slices with remaining olive oil and grill until nice brown grill marks appear, but do not blacken. Remove bread from grill and divide avocado mash between the 8 slices. Add herbs to tomato mixture, then divide tomatoes between the bread slices. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and serve.