This season I’ll be joining forces with local urban farmers, Green City Growers. Each month, Green City Growers will feature a new fruit or vegetable on their site, along with tips for growing and caring for it. I’ll bring that same fruit or vegetable into my kitchen and show you how to turn it into something delicious!
There are few things I love more than a fresh, juicy summer tomato. Just the tangy green scent of a tomato vine is enough to send me into a daydream of the lunches, dinners and snacks that lie ahead.
A good tomato doesn’t need much apart from a sprinkling of salt to bring out its sweet, bright and acidic flavor. But if you’re looking to experiment a little, the versatile flavor of a well-seasoned tomato is as welcoming to fruity olive oil as it is to sweet honey or the creamy yolk of a hard-boiled egg.
Over the past few weeks, I visited two urban farm sites (tended and managed by Green City Growers), both of which are brimming with fresh tomatoes. They’ve got red, orange and yellow tomatoes, both for slicing and popping right into your mouth the moment they’re plucked from the vine.
To commemorate these gifts from the summer sun, I visited GCG’s headquarters in Somerville, MA, armed with a cooler full of my favorite tomato-pairing ingredients. I set up a spread so the team could snack—and hopefully become believers in my summer tomato creations:
Tomatoes with Oil & Salt
Hands down, my favorite way to eat tomatoes, ever since the first time my dad made it for me. Slice the tomatoes in halves or chunks (depending on their size) and toss them in a bowl with a glug of good olive oil and a liberal sprinkling of salt. Let them sit for about 10 minutes so the juices can run and form their own little dressing. I like my tomatoes with oil and salt with a little chill, so I usually put them in the refrigerator for an hour to overnight. The way I see it, the longer they sit, the better.
Tomatoes with Bacon, Hard-boiled Egg, Mayo & Dijon Mustard
Sweet tomatoes pair beautifully with creamy, fatty mayo and tangy Dijon mustard. Add a little hard-boiled egg and salty bacon to the mix and you have yourself a meal. As someone who takes sandwich architecture as seriously as sandwich ingredients, here’s what I recommend:
Slice a beefy tomato parallel to its equator and lay it on the cutting board with a sprinkling of salt. As the tomatoes “marinate”, toast a couple of slices of sweet, spongy potato bread. Slather the mayo and Dijon mustard liberally on both sides. Put the seasoned sliced tomato on one bread slice so the bread and condiments catch its juices. Put the sliced hard-boiled egg on the other bread slice so the mayo and mustard meld with the egg yolks. Bacon goes in the middle for a salty, smoky bite. Basil’s good in there too, if you have any.
Tomatoes with Blue Cheese & Honey
Tomatoes are a fruit, so why not treat them that way? Find some delicious crusty bread and layer it with your favorite blue cheese. You can slice it or spread it—whatever you prefer. Drizzle the bread and cheese with sweet, sticky honey. I recently became aware of avocado blossom honey, which is thick and nutty, and well-suited for sweet-savory combinations like this one. Slice a beefy tomato parallel to its equator and lay it over the blue cheese and honey. Add another drizzle of honey on top of the tomato, and sprinkle it with coarse Maldon salt, or any other fancy schmancy variety you’ve got on hand.
After sharing these creations with the Green City Growers team, they seemed most surprised and excited about the tomatoes with blue cheese and honey. I was happy to learn this, since I’ve found the combination to be a tough sell on paper.
By plating the ingredients in small separate piles, a few new combinations were born. Bacon and honey got together, and so did the hard-boiled egg and blue cheese. I had a lot of fun watching the team experiment with new tomato pairings, where I learned quickly that I was in the company of a group who loves eating tomatoes as much as they love growing them.
Visit Green City Growers for more information on how to grow tomatoes.