If you could name one food that just screams “summer,” what would it be? It’s an easy question for me. Hands down, that food is the heirloom tomato. On a recent trip to the farmer’s market I marveled at the heirlooms that were finally in season. It’s nearly impossible to walk by them without admiring the colors they exude: reds, oranges, purples, greens, pinks, yellows, whites, even black. Like fireworks, they are bright and radiant. They might as well call out, “Hey! Look at me! Buy me!” because I always succumb to their charms anyway. After all, they only make their appearance for a couple short months every year. And when they do, I eat them until I’m sick of them (believe me, that’s a lot). If you feel the same way, or if you’ve never tried a real, true garden or market heirloom tomato, seek one (or 20) out and try a great recipe, like these:
Here is my absolute favorite recipe for using heirlooms:
Hierloom Tomato Tarts with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World: New York
- ½ bunch fresh basil, cut into thin strips
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes (any color), cut in half
- About ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
- 4 oz fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 large red heirloom tomato, such as Cherokee Purple or Brandywine, sliced
- 1 large yellow heirloom tomato, such as Jubilee, sliced
- 3-4 green heirloom tomatoes, cut in quarters
- Aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the basil, garlic, cherry tomatoes and olive oil. Stir gently and set aside. Place your puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut the sheet into 6 even rectangles. Place them on a baking sheet and prick them all over with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. In a small bowl, combine goat cheese and about ¼ cup of milk until you have a smooth (but not runny) consistency. You may need more or less milk to do this, so gradually add the milk in. Spread mixture evenly onto the 6 rectangles of pastry. Top each with slices of the large red and yellow tomatoes. You may not use all of these slices. Save the extra slices for another use. Return tarts to oven and bake about 5-7 minutes, just until warmed through. To serve, sprinkle each of the 6 tarts with a little salt and top evenly with the quartered green tomatoes and the cherry tomato-basil mixture. Drizzle with a little aged balsamic vinegar.
–What is your favorite summer ingredient?