Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tomato Trio Salad

Two years ago when it was tomato-planting time, we knew that later in the summer several grandchildren would be in the garden and swimming in the pool. I planted a "Grape" tomato bush thinking that it would be fun for the kids to pluck the 1-2" fruits for snacks.

It turned out to be quite a resource to have right in the back yard, miniature tomatoes that were nearly all perfect, and all very sweet and flavorful. They appeared in large clusters and ripened quickly. Not only that, they came off their stems with the slightest nudge, and a clean break. Any meal I prepared seemed to benefit from a few of these pretties on the side of the plate or filling a bowl of their own.

The top pic is of the "Grapes" in 2007. The grandchildren didn't particularly like to eat them. But Grandma ate tons--well, maybe just bushels. And I planted another "Grape" last year with equal success and savor.

This spring there were no Grapes to be found. Oh, there are various cherry-type tomatoes that grow in clusters like grape clusters. But on all the long wooden shelves at the best nursery (I finally made the drive after several nearby were found lacking) no one could help me find the plants with that proper name and the oblong shape of a Thompson Seedless grape. The kind that make the fruits we buy in little cartons at Costco, and again this year they are for sale there.

I found many interesting tiny-tomato plants, but was so disappointed I couldn't think straight to decide which one would be the sorry substitute. So Ibought three. They are Juliet F1, Sun Gold, and Green Grape.

On the right are some Sun Golds just getting ripe last month. They are tangerine-colored.






It has turned out to be fun indeed to have three colors of little love-apples. Sun Golds are definitely the most flavorful. Juliet F1 is so big, it's on its way to being a Roma. No great flavor there. The Green Grape has been o.k....it's just hard to know when it's ripe! The fruits get a bit yellowish, and then you know.


We also have some large tomato varieties this summer, Early Girl and Mule Team. The mules are a very slow train, just now starting to pink up. And the Early Girl plant is a runt, with few baby girl fruits. Our reputation as awesome tomato farmers has gone down the drain the last couple of years.






This week we got some hot weather! Yay! Down with fog, Up with sunshine! That means plenty of cherry tomatoes, and a hankering for salads. So I made a tomato-basil salad tonight.


Started with the tomatoes, as many as B. and I could eat, because this salad won't keep. As soon as I cut the green ones in two I began to be fond of them just for their looks.

Early in its growth I just pinch the flowers off the basil every week or so, to make it get bushy. Tonight I pruned it above new buds, and then used scissors to get the leaves off, before chopping. If I were making pesto I wouldn't be concerned about getting a bit of stem and flower. I didn't know how much to put in--maybe it ended up being about 3 tablespoons?






Some goat cheese went in, in little gobs or crumbles, whatever form I could manage. They all sort of melted into the tomato juice in the end.













And I toasted some pine nuts to put on top. Didn't use half of these in the end, so I put most of them away in a jar in the fridge.



The biggest challenge for me posting pictures of food on my blog is finding a place to stage the picture. The kitchen is a complete mess, and the table has the wrong color of placemats on it. The living room is too dark....At least tonight, I could be glad it was salads I was photographing (ah, yes, I made another one I'll tell you about later) so a hot dinner didn't get cold while I scurried around trying to set up a nice environment for my creations.

Husband B. really liked the salad, and so did I. He sprinkled a vinaigrette dressing on his but I take mine neat.

6 comments:

Jeannette said...

Salad...maybe tommorow your pictures will have inspired me to make a lovely salad. We are eating some nice red peppers from the farmer's market. Ours in the garden are small and green.

Pom Pom said...

The pine nuts are a sumptuous addition! Your tomatoes look perfect to me. All your photos are "cookbook worthy" and maybe I'll make some salsa!

Anita said...

The salad looks delicious and photographed beautifully. I love grape tomatoes!
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Gumbo Lily said...

Now that's my kind of eating, Gretchen. I have the grape tomatoes and several other varieties too. Don't you love the shapes and colors? MMMmmmmm.

Jody

Gigi said...

Oh my goodness -- that salad looks soooo good! I never think to use pine nuts but love them? We had terrible luck with out tomatoes this year, well, every year ;-).
Blessings,
G

she who must be obeyed said...

looks fabulous! I love using all of the fun colorful tomatoes -