Don’t Judge a Tomato by Its’ Color!!

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When visiting your local Farmer’s Market and roadside stands, be sure to seek out the Heirloom tomatoes like German Johnson or Purple Cherokees, they are often the ugliest tomatoes but they also often the tastiest!!

An heirloom tomato is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of its valued characteristics. These tomatoes have a romantic history of being bred for taste rather than productivity or resistance to disease and extreme weather conditions.

What’s exciting about heirlooms are their distinguishable differences—not just from other tomatoes but from each other—which makes the picking rather tricky, heirloom tomatoes range in color from  blushing pink, gold, purple, to even green and striped, in shape they can be cherries, beefsteaks, globes, pears, and even have those iconic, belly-buttoned lumps.

When picking an heirloom remember, they are delicate and poking and squeezing them can bruise their flash and cause them to rot more quickly, instead, gently lift the tomato and give it a sniff, a ripe heirloom tomato should smell earthy and slightly sweet.

There is a strong market for heirloom tomatoes. Consumers say they taste better and have thinner skins than “regular tomatoes”. There is also a nostalgic attraction for the “ole timey’ varieties that Grandma used to grow.

Locally you may find:

  • Purple Cherokee is a deep, purple color; a good season will produce an unusual smoky and sweet fruit.
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes are large tomatoes often used for sandwiches and similar applications. Their kidney-bean shape, thinner skin, and shorter shelf life makes commercial use impractical, so they are most often seen at local markets.

While I will contend that the best way to eat an heirloom is on real soft white bread, with Duke’s mayonnaise and a little salt and pepper, here are some other ways you might enjoy your heirloom picks!!

Heirloom Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves (adjust according to taste), minced
  • 12 medium heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5½ cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream or sour cream

Directions

  1. In a stockpot, sauté onion in oil until tender. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, basil, and salt.
  2. Stir in broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes are softened, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
  3. Using an immersion blender, process the soup in small batches until smooth. Return to pot and heat. Serve with a drizzle of heavy cream or sour cream.

Serves 20. Each 1 cup serving contains  Calories 73, Fat 4 g., Cholesterol 5 mg., Sodium 356 mg., Carbohydrates 7 g., Protein 2 g.

The above figures depend on the addition of cream.

Easy Heirloom and Fresh Peach Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 fresh peaches
  • 6 ounces small mozzarella balls
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil

Directions

  1. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into small wedges and the mozzarella balls into smaller pieces. Arrange them in a small serving size or four individual salad bowls. Spread the pieces of mozzarella balls into salad.
  2. Sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Add in the fresh herbs.
  3. Allow the salad to marinate about 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Roasted and Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

(Adapted from a Pinterest recipe)

Ingredients

  • 9 medium sized heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • ⅓ cup creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice a sliver off the bottom of the tomatoes so they stand upright. Carefully cut a circle down from the top with a sharp serrated knife. Use a spoon to gently hollow out the center of the tomato still leaving a bit of flesh around the sides.
  3. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes until just started to shrivel but still hold their shape.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour out any excess liquid that accumulated inside the tomato cavity while roasting.
  5. Combine the goat cheese, creme fraiche, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whip with a handheld beater or vigorously with a whisk until fluffy. Set aside.
  6. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium low heat. Once melted, add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs, stir to combine in the butter/garlic mixture and remove from heat.
  7. Spoon the goat cheese filling into the tomatoes, top with the breadcrumbs and garnish with extra thyme before serving.

Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 271, Fat 8 g., Sodium 296 mg., Carbohydrates 14 g., Protein 9 g, Fiber 4 g.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

Directions

  1. Place tomatoes (center cut up) in a single layer on a greased or sprayed baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over the tomato halves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Broil tomatoes on high heat 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes are blistered slightly and cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and sprinkle with the fresh minced basil. Serve warm to spruce up your plate!!

Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 174, Fat 13 g., Sodium 283 mg., Carbohydrates 4 g., Fiber 1 g.