Annie is mad about tomatoes. The tomato bug bit her several years back, and each year we have grown more and more tomato plants in our backyard. She got into growing heirloom tomatoes, ones which have been around for a long time and are now becoming popular again. She trades seeds with other enthusiasts and even starts her own plants from seed in the middle of Winter!
During the Summer, we are literally swimming in a crimson tide of tomatoes.
Cherry tomato plants, especially, are some of the best producers in our garden. The challenge then is to figure out how to use all these ‘maters before they go bad. Needless to say, most of the dishes that Annie makes that call for tomatoes use fruits grown right in our own backyard.
We’ve used them in soups like gazpacho and bouillabaisse, salsas like lomi lomi salmon, sauces (yes, we made our own tomato sauce) for spaghetti and lasagna, and salads like our chopped salad. Of course, we’re not afraid to eat them on their own, sliced up and seasoned with a little salt and cracked black pepper. But I was looking for something a little different.
I read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the farm that supplies almost all the veggies for Manresa Restaurant. We’ve been to Love Apple Farms before, to attend tomato growing classes put on by Cynthia and even to enter a tomato tasting competition (Annie won a nice prize of farm fresh eggs for her entry). At the bottom of this article was a recipe for Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Maple Syrup. I had all the ingredients on hand, and the recipe looked easy enough so I decided to make it.
Recipe for Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3 drops of vanilla extract
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar from Modena
5 teaspoons highest-quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half (or quarters if large)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 basil leaves, cut into fine strips
Several small whole mint leaves, for garnish
Instructions: Make the dressing by combining the maple syrup, vanilla and balsamic vinegar together and vigorously whisking in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the strawberries, tomatoes and thinly cut basil. Season with the dressing and a turn from a pepper mill and toss them as gently as possible so as not to bruise the strawberries or crush the cherry tomato halves.
What’s your best dish with tomatoes?