In Season: Heirloom Tomatoes

Growing up in rural upstate New York, roadside farm stands were a common sight.  Anyone who had a sizable garden would put a table in front of their house with a box for money, the exchange completely on the honor system.  Living in suburban Connecticut, the sight isn’t as frequent an occurance.  Today, when I passed a roadside stand in front of a house which boasts one of the few working farms within the town limits, I screeched to a stop to see what was on offer.

The stand was mostly tomatoes of every shape and size.  The owner came outside to tell me that he does not use any chemicals in his farming, and started pointing out some of the heirloom varieties he thought I’d enjoy.  The smallish, light green zebra tomatoes, he insisted were sweet as sugar and a must-try.  As he picked the choice tomatoes from the cart to put into my bag and rattled off half a dozen different varieties, I was wishing I’d had a piece of paper.  All I knew was that I was going to have a delicious, colorful, beautiful salad tonight.  (note:  don’t forget to store your tomatoes at room temperature on your countertop–never in the fridge which kills the flavor!)

I’d just been at Trader Joe’s and purchased their (relatively) new Fresh Mozzarella sticks, which are perfect when you only need a small amount of cheese, perhaps for an individual-sized tomato and mozzarella salad.  Fresh mozzarella doesn’t keep for very long once opened, so this is a perfect solution for longer storage.  Besides, for those watching calorie intake, it is a great way to manage portion size.  These are not the rubbery mozzarella sticks you put in your kids’ lunchboxes—these are soft, buttery fresh mozzarella, definitely for a grown-up palate! 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

6 heirloom tomatoes, a variety of colors, cut into wedges

2 fresh mozzarella sticks, or  2 oz fresh mozzarella, diced

extra virgin olive oil

red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Place the tomato wedges and cheese in a bowl and toss gently.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with about 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil and an equal amount of vinegar.

Toss again and serve.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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