Last year at my Carlsbad Farmer's Market the man who owns the fields near us offered me a slice of a fresh heirloom tomato. I have to say his display was beautiful with it's abundant yellow, green, orange, red, and striped tomatoes. I really wanted to like them, but I was so sure that I wouldn't. His were simply cut into chunks, drizzled with a bit of balsamic and dusted with a touch of salt and pepper. With no easy way to say no without offending him I searched out the smallest piece that I could find and quickly popped it into my mouth fully expecting to completely dislike the texture and find that funky "tin like" taste that I had come to associate with some tomatoes. The flavor that exploded in my mouth with this bite was absolutely nothing like I had come to expect! The texture was not even remotely mealy, just fleshy and firm, but not too firm. Wow! The flavor was so amazing that I actually found myself reaching for a second piece, and then actually purchasing my first 3 heirloom tomatoes.
Since then I have come to realize that there are good tomatoes and bad tomatoes. To me, "bad" (insert: soft, mushy, mealy, yucky here!) tomatoes are just plain not worth eating. I am now in my second summer of loving these luscious heirlooms and have searched for and pulled many wonderful recipes from magazines and web searches. I have even shared a recipe with the vendor at the market and become one of his biggest heirloom tomato cheerleaders!
Last week the much awaited fruits made their anticipated arrival and I purchase no less that 10 of the brightly colored globes. They have been added to sandwiches, sauces and last night to the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese. My husband laughed as I fully enjoyed this salad made mostly with tomatoes and commented that he remembered when I wouldn't eat just one in a salad, let alone a whole bowlful on my own!
This recipe comes from Epicurious and I adapted it to suit my tastes and ingredients on hand. It is a definite keeper, and as one reviewer said, "this is the reason to plant your own tomatoes!" The ingredients are simple and for the most part would be what you have on hand. Fresh basil from our garden was sliced and sprinkled on top, and my husband commented that he found himself looking for even more, so I will increase the basil even more next time. Overall, an excellent summer salad!
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese
adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2003
3 medium hierloom tomatoes of assorted colors, cored and cut into large chunks
1 small red onion, halved, then thinly sliced
2 chopped green onions
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbs olive oil (I used my favorite garlic dipping oil!)
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Add tomatoes, onions, avocado and blue cheese to a bowl and stir gently to combine. Add olive oil, vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper, stirring again to combine.
Makes 3 servings
This salad would be wonderful over a plate of fresh greens or atop some toasted, crusty bread!