Posts tagged Heirloom tomatoes
Insalata Caprese

Do you have an abundance of tomatoes right now? The best recipes from the garden are the simplest--letting natural flavors shine on their own. Insalata Caprese is all about fresh, natural flavors of summer. If you have a plethora of tomatoes now, try this Insalata Caprese recipe from Red, White, and Greens : The Italian Way with Vegetables. It is also available online through epicurious, Insalata Caprese.

Created on the island of Capri, Italy sometime in the 1950's at the Trattoria de Vincenzo, it is a simple, yet sensational tomato and mozzarella salad. This salad demands the freshest sun-ripened tomatoes, cow's milk mozzarella, and the finest extra virgin olive oil. It is as divine to bring to your table, as it is to taste. It just doesn't get any better than this.

I used my ripe summer heirloom tomatoes, Kellogs Breakfast (Orange) and Black Carbon (Smoky), from tomato plants I started this spring. Out of my herb garden, I picked fresh basil leaves. I drizzled my favorite Trader Joe's extra virgin olive oil sparingly over the salad. I purchased fresh mozzarella from Costco, conveniently pre-sliced in 1/4" rounds.

Please comment if you have made Insalata Caprese before. Please share what you make with your abundance of tomatoes from your garden this time of year.

Gear Up for Heirloom Tomatoes

The Best Treat of Summer VintageGardenGal Notable: Last month I mentioned getting a jump start on purchasing your heirloom tomato seeds, and starting them for spring. I'm not the only one with tomatoes on my mind.

In the March 2010, "Special Gardening Issue" of Martha Stewart Living magazine, Martha features an article on "Winners From Our Tomato Tasting". Martha and a panel of "Heirloom Tomato Experts" weigh in on their heirloom tomato favorites from last summer.

VintageGardenGal's heirloom tomato seed sponsor, TomatoFest, happens to carry three favorites: Big Rainbow, Black Cherry Tomato, and Green Zebra, mentioned from Martha's article, and about 600 more varieties to choose from.

If you want to have beautiful mouth-watering delicious tomatoes this summer, and maybe your own "tomato tasting party", click on TomatoFest, or their ad on the right-hand side bar and order your heirloom tomatoes seeds for this year. You're in for a treat.

Please share an heirloom tomato story with us. Please comment if you grow heirloom tomatoes every year.

Italian Grilled Panzanella Salad

Grilled Panzanella Salad This classic Italian summer panzanella salad oozes with fresh flavors of summer, and takes advantage of your ability to jump in the garden and harvest bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, fresh assorted herbs, and the last of your summer squash. I usually see panzanella salad with tomatoes, crusty bread, and mozzarella cheese, but like the twist of these added grilled summer vegetables.

I do think this is a very special salad, and one that is a crowd pleaser. There is some preparation time involved with quite a bit of chopping, grilling, and assembling. All of it, well worth it in my opinion.

I found this recipe at, from Bon Appetit Magazine, August 2005, Grilled Panzanella Salad With Bell Peppers, Summer Squash, and Tomatoes. Although this recipe includes recommended Italian white wine pairings. I think a nice Sangiovese wine would be enjoyable, as well.

What recipes do you make with your summer vegetables? Have you made Italian panzanella salad before?

The Character of Heirloom Tomatoes

Beautiful Just-Picked Tomatoes For me, the prize out of our kitchen garden each summer is always heirloom tomatoes. In the spring I plant as many different types as I can, and baby them along through August. I seek out tomato plants I have read about, tomato plants that have funny names, tomato plants that bear certain tomato colors, and even tomato plants with a story behind them.

Heirloom tomatoes have so much color and character. They have fun names like Mortgage Lifter, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Purple Cherokee, Pineapple, and Abe Lincoln, to name a few. Heirloom tomato names rival in stature the gifted quirky race horses names we all love like Dolly Daggers, Platinum Stiletto, Wink and Nod, Bling Star Dream, and Six Pack Abs, (borrowing a few horse names running at the Del Mar Race Track this season).

Heirloom tomatoes have longevity, these seeds have been passed down from generation to another, and with their genetics intact. They come in a rainbow of colors, and at first glance, an heirloom tomato is usually never perfect, but characteristically funny with bumps, creases, and what some people might call blemishes. I call them perfect, and absolutely heaven to your taste buds.

Heirloom tomatoes are so perfect in taste, slicing and adding a pinch of sea salt is all you need. If you would like to go a step further, slice fresh heirloom tomatoes, place on top of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, add a few leaves of your summer basil from your garden, and lightly drizzle fabulous fig vinegar on top. Delicious. Of course, heirloom tomatoes are a cook's bonus to summer pasta, pizza, salsas, sauces, as well

Some of my heirloom tomato plants do not always grow well for me. I am the first to admit, living close to the Pacific coast might make me tomato-challenged. But I have persevered, and now our heirloom tomato harvest is usually abundant.

The last two years I have tried growing the "Julia Child" heirloom tomato, and with no luck. The plant grows, but does not produce many tomatoes.  Yes, besides a rose, and probably many other unknown treasures to me, Julia Child has an heirloom tomato named after her. Wouldn't you know it, this tomato plant is unusually tall with potato-type leaves and with pink 4" fluted tomatoes at harvest. How appropriate for Julia. Guess I will try again next year, because I'm sure the tomatoes are "Bon Appetit" tasty.

I usually purchase my tomato seedlings locally, but I noticed on the web a nice heirloom tomato website, Tomato Fest, with a wonderful selection of heirloom tomato seeds, including "Julia Child".

What heirloom tomatoes do you grow and recommend? What do you think is the biggest difference between heirloom tomatoes and commercial hybrid tomatoes?