Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tomatoes - two ways!

I love shopping at the Farmer's Market but at times it can be a little expensive so I am always looking for a deal. A few weeks ago, I notice that my normal farmer had bags of about 6 large tomatoes on sale for $3. Normally these tomatoes are close to $3 each (since they are almost a pound each!) but since they were already nice and ripe they had them on "clearance". I was able to find a bunch that wasn't over-ripe and since I was going to use them right away anyways I was happy to buy them ripe and ready to use.

One of my favorite meals in summer time is tomato salads. There is nothing so simple and perfect but dependent on the ingredients. Tomatoes are something that still really only taste right in the summer. One bite of a fresh summer tomato is enough to make me want to swear off all of the super market varieties that range from acceptable to almost orange and mealy! But unfortunately, winter will be back soon enough and there will be 8 months worth of salads that rely on these sad tomato like substances!

The first variation is a traditional Italian tomato salad. This is an easy side that is welcome at my dinner table any night. It is best when you make it in advance and give it some time in the fridge to meld together. This is a simple mix of diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and some salt and pepper. If you want to turn it up a little a splash of balsamic can also be added. Or some fresh mozzarella to turn it into a Caprese Salad.

The second is more of a chunky salsa using the fresh flavors of Mexican cooking. For this version, I rough chopped the tomatoes with some red onion, green bell pepper, garlic, lime, cilantro and of course olive oil,  salt and pepper. These flavors are naturals with the sweet ripe tomato and the addition of some hot peppers (I used a jalapeno and a cherry bomb) kicks this up to another level. Make sure you are careful with the hot peppers though and use caution when chopping and with your hands after as the oil from the peppers can remain on hands for some time.