July 16, 2012 — Catawba River District Voices

This is the most wonderful time of the year for vegetable lovers. Of course there is an abundance of cucumbers, squash, beans and peppers, but the star of the show is the tomato.  Hands down that is the favorite summer vegetable. When customers come by our table at a local farmer’s market, they scan the whole scene to find the tomatoes.

Of course we have the normal Better Boy, Best Boy, Early Girl and Beefy Boy, which are all the recognizable hybrid varieties. But the new craze is for heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms are grown from seeds that have been saved from yesteryear’s crops. This system has been going on for centuries, but the general public has just recently become aware of these gems.  Tomato heirlooms have names such as Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Azoychka and Mortgage Lifter. Such great names for tomatoes with character. My husband loves to eat these gems, but when they are yellow such as the Azoychka, he has to close his eyes.  Something about eating a yellow tomato, but tasting red doesn’t seem natural.

If you see some funny looking tomatoes at your local farmers market, I bet they’ll be an heirloom variety. They are often striped or a deep red or purple. Sometimes the fruit is a little misshapen. Try one out. The flavor and juice are amazing. You’ll be back for more.

Here is the Hardin Family’s favorite way to eat our tomatoes. No exact measurements.

  1. Slice a large tomato.
  2. On top if each slice, put a slice of good mozzarella cheese.
  3. On top of the cheese drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle a little garlic salt and place some chopped up fresh basil on top.

*It’s gotta be fresh basil.  Dried basil will not do!

This is so easy, but the most requested appetizer we get from friends who come out for dinner. It just tastes like summer!