Formality might dictate that we call what is happening outside right now “summer” but to me it’s “tomato season” (See also: dirt ruby season; ‘mater time; vine candy days). It’s not hard to glean from previous posts that I’m a veg-centric chick, and tomatoes are the sun around which all other fruits and vegetables orbit in my universe. I love and respect them deeply, grew 12 of my own plants last year carrying them in and outside each day until the night air was warm enough to welcome them, and will spend my life chasing down the perfect recreation of my grandmothers’ summer tomato salad. The excitement I displayed when a fellow Jersey girl informed me that Rutgers had created a hybrid to bring back the perfectly juicy jersey beefsteak tomatoes of our childhood clearly disturbed her California-native husband, but neither of us cared because our sole purpose in life had just shifted to acquiring one of these vines and no judgment could stop us. I don’t even let the grocery guys bag for me for fear of them bruising or puncturing what I spent no less than 5 minutes choosing.
In the course of this love affair, I’ve pushed the envelope of seasonality many times, only to learn my lesson each time (a stark contrast to other arenas in which I’ve pushed the envelope and…well, basically learned nothing except sometimes you can push the envelope). The disappointment I associate with a mealy, flash-gas ripened, flavorless, out of season tomato isn’t much different than what I feel for a gross bottle of “nice” wine (read: over $20, insert see-no-evil-monkey emoji here). As such, I try to keep my tomato intake for the year between the months of July and September, difficult as it may be as this extrapolates to BLT’s and most crostini (a favorite post-work dinner). There’s rarely a day in this ambling season that I don’t eat at least one tomato, and currently have several macerating in a champagne vinaigrette on my counter.
ALRIGHT CLARK WE GET IT YOU LOVE TOMATOES COOL STORY BRUH BUT WHAT ARE YOU GETTING AT??
Right. Yes. The reason we are here is that I want to share some of those good good recipes for those good good dirt rubies. This happens to also be a season requiring the least manipulation of ingredients for an incredible outcome, so none of this takes long at all, and like most of my food, is meant to be shared al fresco with a glass of seasonal grape juice (namely a sauvingnon blanc or rosé).
Sidenote: Babs just texted to let my brother and I know that there was a huge thunderstorm happening in our native NewJ. I made her record me a soundbite that I’ve now listened to 4 times and I tell you what, I am getting truly verklempt missing those hot, humid summer days when wrathful weather would sweep through the hills and across the fields, battering the flower beds and soaking the stones, only to give way to rainbows, glistening golden hours, and the smell of minerals as the rain evaporated off of those sun-heated stones, giving way to warm nights and hoards of fireflies. FUG I MISS MY HOME AND EARNING EVERY GORGEOUS SEASON. The tempestuous nature of east coast seasons resonates so very deeply with my character; this california sunshine is infuriatingly consistent and chipper and I just don’t relate. Maybe I’ll move back if Hill is elected. If Trump is elected…..DUECES FREAKS IT’S ABROAD LIVIN’ FOR THIS BROAD.
Back to our regularly scheduled program, here’s a super simple tomato recipes to class up your backyard bbq’s this weekend, wherever it may have you!
Dirt Rubies & Rosé
- 5ripe heirloom tomatoes of varying colors, sliced 1/3" thick
- 1/2pint Cherry tomatoes, sliced as thin as you'd like
- 1bunch basil, smaller leaves plucked from the stem
- 1/3cup olive oil
- 2tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1teaspoon honey
- 1/2teaspoon sea salt + more for sprinkling
- 5cracks of pepper
- Slice the tomatoes, arrange them on the serving platter and sprinkle them with a bit of salt (as much as you can pinch between three fingers).
- Combine vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and honey in a jar, cover with the lid and shake it like a polaroid until the ingredients look combined. Dump in the olive oil and shake again until it's an emulsified dressing (maybe 5-10 seconds).
- Dress the tomatoes and let sit out at room temperature until serving. The longer it sits (you can cover it with plastic wrap), the more the tomatoes will macerate with the dressing, releasing their juices for one hell of a scarpetta!
- Once you're ready to serve, sprinkle about some of the basil leaves and enjoy!