‘Tis the Season for Fresh Tomatoes

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While we all may not agree on the mayonnaise of choice for a tomato sandwich, most of us cannot wait to enjoy one!! Top selling these days at local roadside stands and Farmers Markets are Heirloom tomatoes. Well, what is the difference between an heirloom tomato and just a regular tomato? Hybrid or “normal/regular” tomatoes are selected for their yield, resistance to disease and shelf life, among several other production and marketing reasons, as opposed to Heirlooms which are selected for their diversity of color, shape and flavor, and they come from plant seeds that are at least 50 years old or more. There is a renewed interest in heirlooms as a result of their uniqueness and taste. So, which are better? That is all about personal taste, it will be well worth it to your tastebuds to give them all at least a taste, heirlooms and “normal/regular” tomatoes and pick your favorite. Be prepared to arrive early for the heirlooms, they tend to sell out fast!!

Viral TikTok Baked Feta Pasta with Tomatoes

(I baked this and loved it, however, if you are shooting for a lower carb version, leave out the pasta and add some protein like chicken)

Ingredients

  • 2 pints Grape tomatoes
  • Olive oil, drizzles
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil (fresh makes all the difference here)
    8-ounce block of feta cheese, (I had to substitute crumbles in the same amount)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 8-ounce box of pasta, whole-grain penne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Pour 2 pints of grape tomatoes into a casserole dish. Place the feta cheese in the center of the tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes and cheese with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Drizzle olive oil lightly and evenly over the dish.
  2. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  3. While baking, boil pasta according to the box.
  4. Carefully remove the dish after 30 minutes. Add in chopped garlic, fresh basil leaves, chopped, half of the pasta, and combine. Once combined add remaining pasta. Serve warm.

All American Classic Succotash

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh lima beans
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 uncooked bacon slices
  • 1 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

  1. Bring first 4 ingredients and water to cover to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain beans, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Discard yellow onion, thyme, and garlic.
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat 7 minutes or until crisp, turning once. Remove bacon, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet. Drain bacon on paper towels, and crumble.
  3. Sauté chopped sweet onion in hot drippings over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Stir in corn, and cook, stirring often, 6 minutes or until corn is tender. Stir in tomatoes, cooked lima beans, and 3/4 cup reserved cooking liquid; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in butter and next 3 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Fried Green Heirloom Tomatoes

  • 2-3 large firm, green tomatoes, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Olive oil for cooking

Aioli for Serving;

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika in a low pan or dish.
  2. In a separate pan or dish, pour buttermilk.
  3. Heat about ¼ inch of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.
  4. Dip the tomato slices in the buttermilk, then dredge them in the flour mixture, coating all surfaces. Drop into the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides. Flip them carefully.
  5. Serve immediately with the aioli.

Easy Tomato and Cucumber Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 small heirloom tomato, diced (or a fresh tomato)
  • 1-2 fresh cucumbers, cut into half rounds
  • 2-3 small basil leaves chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons whipped cream cheese
  • 2 pieces crispy bread, or melba toast
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze (can purchase or make your own)

Directions

  1. Spread the whipped cream cheese onto the toasts or bread. Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, chopped basil, salt, and pepper in the olive oil. Spread the cucumber-tomato mix onto the toast. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Tomato Carpaccio

(When visiting Italy, this was a common combination for a fresh salad beginning, so yummy)

  • 2 large tomatoes (heirloom or regular, your favorite)
  • 1 ear fresh corn
  • ½ cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella or burrata
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • ¼ cup microgreens (locally sourced from carolinagreens.org)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (purchased or homemade)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Thinly slice heirloom tomatoes and spread over a large serving dish. Cut corn from the cob and sprinkle corn over tomatoes.
  2. Add on cherry tomatoes, then pull the fresh mozzarella or burrata into small pieces and place over everything. Top with the pistachios and microgreens.
  3. Drizzle everything with olive oil, balsamic glaze, and salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Caprese in Baked Parmesan Cups

Ingredients

For the Tomato Caprese;

  • 1 pound heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered, or your favorite tomatoes cut into similar sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped basil leaves
  • ½ small lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Feta cheese crumbles for topping

For the Parmesan cups;

  • 2 cups shredded parmesan (you can use grated)
    Zest of 1 lemon
  1. For the Parmesan cups; Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix the parmesan cheese and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  3. Coat or cover a baking sheet with nonstick spray or a Silpat mat. Drop 1 slightly rounded tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto the mat or sprayed surface, form into a circle. Drop 6 circles onto the baking sheet with 2 inches between them. Recipe should yield 12-15 cups.
  4. Bake the rounds for 8 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly. Working quickly and while the cheese is hot, transfer the rounds using a knife or spatula to a muffin tin and form into the cups. If they get too cool and become brittle, just reheat in the oven.
  5. Let cool in the tins for 3-5 minutes and remove. Repeat the process with the remaining parmesan mixture.
  6. For the Caprese; Toss the tomatoes, roasted red pepper slices, capers, and basil in a large bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  7. Fill the parmesan cups with about ¼ of the tomato mixture and garnish with additional salt and pepper if desired and the feta crumbles. Serve at room temperature.