Thursday, September 10, 2009


...and I like Heirloom Tomato.

But instead of calling the whole thing off, let’s grab one of those bad boys and make a Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Arugula Salad with Ciliegine.

Heirloom TomatoWedges with Basil

Colorful, innit? For that you can thank the tomato, which in this case came in a multihued pattern of yellow, red, and green.

Modern supermarket tomatoes are, all too often, picked early while still hard, in order to withstand the rigors of long-distance transportation. Ripened by exposure to ethylene gas, they have a pleasing red appearance that disguises their styrofoam-like flavor and texture nicely. I don’t even bother to buy them any more. What’s the point?

Heirloom tomatoes seem to be the greengrocers’ attempt to bring back real tomato flavor to the produce section. Instead of uniform spheroids, they’re lumpy, knobbly, misshapen, weird-looking. Definitely not pretty.

Ahh, but the flavor. Nice and tomatoe-y in a way that people under the age of, say, forty may never have experienced without having a tomato-growing neighbor.

The salad above was simplicity itself, an attempt to recreate a beautiful dish we had had only the evening before at a wedding reception. I cut the tomatoes into wedges instead of the usual discs, arranged them on the platter, drizzled them with olive oil, and threw a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of sea salt over them. (It’s handy having a thriving basil plant right there on our deck.) In the center of the platter went a pile of arugula, dressed with a blend of sherry vinegar and walnut oil and decorated with a handful of toasted pine nuts.

The finishing touch? A scattering of ciliegine: marinated mozzarella balls. Sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella would work just as well here.

Nice to look at... and even nicer to devour.

Heirlooms! Not just for your cedar chest anymore.

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