Don't let this summer pass you by without eating an heirloom tomato. Hunt them down, seek them out, and make them yours. They are the misshapen, quirky, and cracked tomatoes that are happily grouped together. Don't shy away from their imperfections. It's part of their charm. Oval, round, fat, small, and juicy. Red, yellow, green, purple, and orange. These are not your typical waxy flavorless varieties you find in the supermarkets year round. These are juicy, fresh, and ready now. You'll find variations and combinations of shapes, colors, and sizes in heirloom varieties, which are passed down from generations.
I came across a great story about a family passing down heirloom seeds in the July/August issue of Whole Living. Titled 'Family Roots,' it's the story of an heirloom tomato farmer from Pennsylvania who inherited a jar of seeds from his grandfather after his passing. Although not appreciating them at first, he now owns and operates an organic farm with his wife. Their farm specializes in heirloom produce, with 342 types of tomatoes! One of the seeds he received was even traced back to a Native American Tribe. I find that fascinating. It's interesting to trace back our food source, but also to protect it for future generations.
Here's the thing about heirloom tomatoes...don't mess with them, and whatever you do, don't cook them. These beauties are best washed, cut, and eaten raw. I like to give them a little sprinkle of sea salt and drizzle them with the best olive oil I can find. That's it. With something so beautiful, I can't help but keep it super simple and appreciate each and every bite.
I packed this salad with me on Saturday for what became an impromptu picnic lunch; and since there was no refrigeration necessary, it worked out perfectly. My mission at the Portsmouth NH farmers' market was to find a great loaf of bread to have with this salad. However, when I stumbled across an enticing display of artisan flatbread crisps, that plan was aborted. We enjoyed this lunch at a park table overlooking the water. Complete with a bag of olive oil and sea salt Craquelin's, and our salad. The juices from the tomatoes had mixed with the olive oil, creating a dressing of sorts all on it's own. It made for a perfect picnic on a perfect afternoon...sun on my shoulders, flip-flops on my feet, and forkfuls of juicy ripe tomatoes.
~Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe~
2 lbs heirloom tomato varieties
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
Rinse and dry your tomatoes. Slice and arrange on plate or serving platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve at room temperature. Do not refrigerate. Serves 2 as a main salad or 4 as a starter course.