Tag Archives: heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta

I have an inkling that the more global and connected our lives get through technology and new communications platforms, the more valuable hyper-local experiences are becoming.

There’s nothing quite like the sensation of browsing your neighborhood farmers’ market on a Saturday, where you run into friends, colleagues and artisans who know you by name. And yes, I mean “neighborhood farmers’ market,” because it seems I’m discovering new markets every year – we have, what, five in my city?

On my recent visit to the Old Salem Cobblestone market, I picked up a bunch of colorful tomatoes that I wanted to eat immediately. They had those green striped “zebra” tomatoes, your classic red heirloom and a pretty yellow variety called Lillian, like my sister!

Once I picked out my basket-full, I hurried over to the goat cheese stand and almost had to fight a woman to get the last 5 ounces of feta goat cheese. But I won! And I don’t feel bad.

What came later was a delicious lunch for two that would also serve well as a summer appetizer – I’m calling it a twist on my typical tomato/basil/mozzarella salad.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large tomatoes, or equivalent smaller
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 5 oz. feta
  • Sliced baguette
  • 1 garlic clove
  • EVOO
  • S&P to taste

Preheat broiler. Place enough bread slices for two people on baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until lightly toasted, then rub toasted sides with raw garlic. Place on platter.

Meanwhile, thickly slice your feta and tomatoes.

Place tomato and feta slices equally on bread, then scatter platter with basil leaves. Sprinkle with cracked pepper (you probably won’t need more salt if the feta is super salty). This was an excuse to use a beautiful new platter we got as a wedding gift.

Now, all you have to do is enjoy! The bread soaks up all the tomato juices and the feta adds a seasoning all its own. Eat with your hands.

So fresh, so simple, so yummy.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Oh, the ways to use tomatoes

Heirloom cherry tomatoes

The quality of tomatoes down here never fails to woo me. They are big, they are beefy and they come in a rainbow of colors.

At least three times per week, I make the simplest of lunches or snacks: sliced tomato, salt and pepper, layered with fresh mozzarella and basil clipped straight from my garden. Finally, drizzle with olive oil. Sometimes, I make toasted baguette slices rubbed with olive oil and garlic to catch all the juices.

And then there are the BLTs. My favorite summer sandwich. Simple and easy to jazz up with avocado, spicy lettuces and the best bread you can find. The secret is really in the bread. Here’s how I made mine recently:

  • Two thick slices of sourdough bread from Ollie’s, toasted with a little butter
  • Thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, peppered
  • Sliced avocado, salted
  • Two thick slices of bacon, crisped
  • Mixed greens (I just used leftover salad from the bag)
  • Mayo (add a little lemon zest for fun)

While the bacon is cooking, make yourself some iced tea. This was a combination of black tea, raspberry tea and fresh ginger (plus Kentucky mint from my garden!). Sweetened softly and served with lemon wedges.

Layer up your sammich, pour yourself a drink and dive in, my friends! I like the peppery arugula from the salad mix cutting through the richness of the avocado. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy and the bacon was smoky and salty. Just wonderful. And oh, the mayo and butter are key.

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! Mine involved baskets and baskets of peaches…xoxo

A perfect Sunday…

…would go something like this: sleeping in, then getting a lavender latte at Krankies Silver Bullet. Then, getting bagels and The New York Times and consuming in a sunny breakfast nook.

Later, a nice jog through the Wake Forest trails and then a stroll through the Reynolda Gardens, where the roses are going crazy. Next, maybe throw in a fruit smoothie to encourage the healthy living.

Later, maybe you feel inspired to go to the Piedmont Triad Farmers’ Market, where you will be blown away by all the produce ripe for the taking. Buy a fig tree because you’ve always wanted one. Add a blue hydrangea plant to the mix because they make you dream of having a home in The Hamptons (East Egg or West Egg?). Let someone else figure out how to fit these into a sporty car while you check out the heirloom tomatoes, which are “ugly,” just the way you like them (and only $2.50 per pound)…

These are always different colors when you cut into them

Next, you’ll look at the basil, which cost a shy$1 per bouquet. You’ll buy three, just ’cause.

Can you smell that?

Now you have lunch planned: scalloped tomatoes with white wine. But something is missing…oh yes, flowers. Accept a bouquet of bachelor’s buttons in blue, purple, pink and white. They will look perfect on a kitchen table, or in your newly decorated bedroom.

Those paper-like petals with the sage stems make me want to dance barefoot in a soft cotton sundress…

Along the way, you might also want to pick up some scented geraniums, because they ward off mosquitoes during the warm summer evenings. And, of course, a full gallon bucket of freshly picked strawberries, right off the back of a farm truck, weeping with juice and perfuming your car with that intoxicating sweetness.

I just love the mismatched baskets of these ruby beauties, some of them no bigger than the tip of your finger and others worth a couple bites. Most grocery-store varieties are huge, but taste like water.

Strawberries are a story best told with rhubarb … and the beginning of a new challenge I will be announcing shortly…

More to come, friends! xoxo

Scalloped tomatoes

Summer flavors baked together

Cari has made it known that these things are true: she doesn’t cook; she doesn’t consider herself a foodie; and she doesn’t like watching “The Food Network.”

I don’t know if East Coast living has influenced her, or her cat or what … but my party-girl college friend has started getting a little more Write Gal in her. 🙂

For example: yesterday, we got up late and watched FN while I made cranberry-orange scones. While we watched, we saw Ina Garten make an easy-enough “scalloped tomatoes” dish, which looked like a panzanella salad baked with parmesan cheese.

We thought this would be a nice, quick lunch for us two gals. I had homemade focaccia that I needed to use or toss. All we needed to buy were a few heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil.

This dish is simply delicious. Perfect use for leftover bread – it would be great with any chicken or fish, as a first course or appetizer. We both helped ourselves to two servings (and then somebody finished it off at around 2 a.m.) and it was perfect with a crisp glass of white wine.

We looked for the recipe online, but it wasn’t posted yet. So here, we present:

Flipflops and Write Gal’s scalloped tomatoes

Ingredients

3-4 good quality tomatoes, cut into wedges or big chunks

10 basil leaves, shredded

Four thick slices of good bread, cut into cubes

Olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 c. Parm-reg, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T olive oil and add the bread, tossing to brown. After 2 min., add garlic and stir for 1 min. Add tomatoes and stir for another 2 min. to combine and cook the garlic. Off the heat, add the basil and season with S&P to taste. Pour into a baking dish and drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle over all the Parmesan.

Bake until the cheese melts and the bread starts to brown, 15-20 min. You really can cook it as long as you want – we liked the bread still soft, but the cheese crispy.

Cut into squares and serve hot or at room temperature. There is no bad way to eat this.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo