Friday, August 26, 2005

Family Heirlooms

I've raved before about the wonderful heirloom tomatoes that are now ripening in my garden, but yesterday I received an extra bonus of more heirloom tomatoes shared by The Archivist, a colleague whose culinary leanings echo my own.

She brought in a big bag of tomatoes from her own garden, including the usual Roma and small yellow pear tomatoes as well as her heirloom Green Zebra, Pink Brandywine, and Sun Gold. (I think I got those names right; if not, the faulty memory is mine alone.) She opened up the bag and said, "Take what you want!"

And so, despite an abundance from my own garden (I had to pick more Black Cherry tomatoes and a couple more Costoluto Genovese along with the first Goose Creek last evening), I took a few of her gorgeous fruits.

This is another one of those times when I wish I had a digital camera so that I could show you the beautiful array of shapes, sizes, and colors in that grouping of tomatoes. Suffice it to say that I have never had such a glorious variety pass through my kitchen... ever!

I steamed some green beans last night and tossed them with three kinds of tomatoes (Costoluto Genovese, Black Cherry, Yellow Pear), feta cheese, a balsamic vinaigrette, and a chiffonade of fresh basil for a salad for today's lunch. But I still have plenty of tomatoes left over, so I might consider pulling out my recipe for an Heirloom Tomato Tart (which includes fresh mozzarella and pesto in a buttery peppercorn crust) and making that this weekend, too.

Yes, I'm still planning to can tomatoes, but for right now, this cornucopia of heirloom varieties begs to be used in different ways.

Guess I know what I'm eating this weekend!

Green Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad

1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1/2 c or so (as much as you like, really) heirloom tomatoes, halved or chopped
1/4 c feta cheese
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
about 10 small to medium basil leaves

Steam the green beans until tender. Drain and turn into a bowl. Add tomatoes and feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stack and roll the basil leaves, then cut thin strips (chiffonade) and sprinkle over the salad for garnish (or mix them in).

Chill and serve.

Serves 1 to 2 persons, depending on whether you serve this as a salad or a main course


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