Have you tasted the difference between vine ripened organic tomatoes and the grocery store variety? If you have, then you know that there is no comparison in texture, intensity and flavor. For years I thought that I had tasted the best that tomatoes could offer because I was lucky enough to have friends with gardens nearby. I was wrong again. About 5 years ago I took my first glimpse at the goofy-shaped and colorful heirloom tomatoes and never looked back.
If you can’t find organic heirloom tomatoes at your regular grocery store, your best bet is to find your closest Farmer’s Market. If you live in the US and it is summertime, chances are, someone is growing some heirlooms close by.
Growing up, I never could have imagined loving tomatoes this much or even eating them plain for dessert. Here is a recipe for a Caprese salad that wins people over time and time again. The one shown here is not yet dressed.
CLAUDIA’S CAPRESE SALAD
Two large organic heirloom tomatoes. Should feel heavy in your hand.
One container Fresh Mozzarella, Buffalo or regular… I like to use bocconcini… bite sized balls equal less work
Fresh Basil leaves – 10 or as many as you want, chiffonade or torn apart
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Coarse sea Salt and fresh ground Pepper
Cut tomatoes in bite sized chunks.
If you have larger mozzarella you may tear it with your hands as in the photo above or cut it with a knife into bite sized pieces.
Combine tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss and sprinkle with some more salt. This step is essential.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic to your liking. Crack some pepper over the top and give a final toss. Taste. I would go easy on the wet ingredients so you get a little liquid on everything but don’t create a pool on the bottom of the bowl.
OH NO MY TOMATOES GOT TOO RIPE! Don’t throw them away, they are expensive! Bag the caprese idea. Instead, saute a few cloves of garlic in a little olive oil, add chopped tomatoes, dried Oregano (if it has been in your pantry for over a year, smell it.. if it doesn’t smell like Oregano, throw it away), salt, pepper and toss in some fresh Basil (cook for 10-20 minutes at medium heat) and throw over some pasta. Magnifico!
WHY ORGANIC? I am not an expert, but I hear that tomatoes are amongst the most sprayed crops… as in pesticides… as in Cancer, so pay a few more bucks and avoid Cancer.
GET YOUR TOMATOES AT THE FARMER’S MARKET: Purchasing anything at a Farmer’s market supports the local economy and farmers, which are a dyeing breed in our country. It is the American thing to do. :O) It’s expensive? Skip a frappucino and buy a tomato.
GROW YOUR OWN: Buy some heirloom tomato seeds and grow your own. You will save some dough and become my new best friend. They are a little more vulnerable, but the extra love they require will pay you in kind.