Have you fallen in love with local, fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes yet? If you haven’t, please, please, please go out as soon as you can and buy a giant heirloom tomato with plenty of character or a pint of sweet cherry tomatoes. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll surely be hooked on the amazing flavor of local tomatoes before long!
You see… through the winter months, most of the tomatoes you find at the average grocery store were picked while still rock hard and green. This keeps them safe while being shipped across the country. They’re then artificially ripened using ethylene gas to become the tomatoes you find on the grocery store shelves. While this will get you a tomato any time of the year, it isn’t the best way to get a flavorful tomato on your plate.
So, when the special moment of tomato season finally arrives in Michigan, let the people rejoice! Michigan doesn’t have the best climate for tomatoes since our summers are so short, so we’re not a huge national producer of the fruit. That said, Michigan does grow amazing tomatoes which are found in abundance during the late summer!
Since vine ripened tomatoes are particularly delicate, you won’t be able to find them just anywhere. Of course the farmers markets will be overflowing with tomatoes of endless varieties. From yellow and orange to deep reds or purples. That’s your best bet to find the best tomatoes in the land. If you’re not able to make it to a local market, take a look at more specialty grocery stores that specialize in sourcing local produce. Tomatoes are abundant in the markets now, and will continue to be until the first frosts come this fall.
This month, I’m sharing with you a few tomato recipes that were created to highlight the awesome flavors of in season tomatoes. They’re simple in nature, making them easy to put together and packed with awesome tomato flavor! I’m also including a recipe for basil oil, because there is no better match than basil and tomatoes. The basil oil can be used in a few of the other recipes I’ve shared!
Tomato & Goat Cheese Toast
A beautiful and quick snack that is packed with awesome flavor, this is a great use for those beautiful heirloom tomatoes you’re always seeing at the market as the flavor of the tomato is front and center!
hearty bread, sliced
tomatoes, sliced thickly
salt & pepper
Toast bread lightly, then rub each slice with cloves of garlic to leave behind just a bit of garlic flavor. Lightly drizzle olive oil onto the toast.
Spread each slice of toast with a nice layer of goat cheese, top with a thick slice of tomato, and sprinkle a little salt & pepper on top!
Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Roasting cherry tomatoes brings out their rich flavor, and makes for a super easy summer pasta dish! I like to use sungold tomatoes for this recipe for their sweetness and amazing flavor, but any cherry tomatoes will work great!
1/2 pound pasta (I like Delallo’s organic gemelli)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
basil oil (optional)
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
fresh basil to garnish
Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and toss with garlic and just a bit of olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the skins are turning brown.
While the tomatoes are roasting, cook pasta per the package’s instructions.
Serve as a pile of pasta, topped with a big spoonful of tomatoes and a drizzle of basil oil or olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
Caprese Salad, of course!
I couldn’t write a post about fresh summer tomatoes without including a recipe for caprese salad. Super flavorful local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, plenty of basil, and a little balsamic vinegar. Always easy. Always delicious!
tomatoes, thickly sliced
fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced
fresh basil leaves
balsamic vinegar (I love Fustini’s traditional 18 year)
basil oil (optional)
This doesn’t really need much explanation, just layer the cheese, tomatoes, and basil then drizzle with a little balsamic and basil oil (if you’re using it). Then enjoy, preferably with a baguette on the side!
Since basil is basically the official partner flavor to tomatoes, I wanted to include this recipe for basil oil. Homemade basil oil is a great way to bring fresh basil flavor and amazing color into your fresh dishes! This oil is an optional addition to a few of the tomato recipes I’m sharing today!
1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
1/2 cup olive oil
Quickly blanch basil in boiling water for 10 seconds then transfer immediately to an ice bath to stop cooking. This will keep your oil nice and bright green!
Squeeze water out of basil, and place it in a blender with oil. Puree until leaves have broken down, then strain through a find mesh strainer or some cheesecloth.
Short though the growing season may be, the deliciousness of fresh, local tomatoes is unrivaled. I guarantee that you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought variety.
Enjoy these, and tell us if you have any of your own favorite tomato recipes!