It's Harvest Time - What will you Make? July 28 2015, 0 Comments

The tomato farms in the southern coast of Italy are bursting with activity right about now.

The end of July and beginning of August is tomato harvest season in Italy. The tomatoes have reached their ideal ripeness for picking and sauce preparation. The San Marzano plum tomato is known for its chewy skin, lower water content, and strong flavor, making it the perfect tomato for our cooking sauce. But did you know that there are over 7,000 varieties of tomatoes? All of them have different consistencies and flavors, giving each one an ideal use. Here we list just a few of the types and their uses.

Roma: A cousin of the plum tomato, Roma tomatoes also tend to be sweet and acidic. You can make your own chunky sauce with a few of these chopped up and sautéed in olive oil. Sauté until they just begin to wilt, then add a touch of salt, some basil, diced onions, and minced garlic. When all the flavors are combined, add a sprig of rosemary and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove the rosemary right after you remove it from the heat. The sauce will have the flavor of the rosemary, but it won’t be overpowering.            

Cherry: The smaller the sweeter when it comes to tomatoes. These round little salad toppers come in multiple varieties and can be used in lots of ways. Try them raw or crush them into your own garlic marinara. Roast some minced garlic in olive oil until just softened. Add your crushed cherry tomatoes and cook on medium heat until sauce begins to form. Add salt and pepper and a stalk of basil.

Beefsteak:  These are the big, juicy ones you probably think of when you think of a full, round tomato. These uniformly red tomatoes can weigh more than a pound and be up to 6 inches in diameter. Historically, they are great for throwing at thespians after a bad performance. But, more traditionally, they make for delicious capris salads. Slice thick and layer over creamy mozzarella slices and fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt. You can also slice them in salads or eat them alone with a little salt. Just be ready for some dripping!

Heirloom: These tomatoes are colorful and come in lots of shapes and sizes. They’re called “heirloom” tomatoes because their seeds or variety have been passed down for several decades. Heirlooms are special for multiple reasons. For one, they are grown by small-time farmers who handle their tomatoes with great care. In addition, every breed of heirloom tomato is genetically diverse, making them very important for world food sustainability. Their diversity is what gives them their different shades of colors. The typical tomatoes you find in the grocery store have been bred to uniformly exhibit their attractive red color and round or oval shape. Heirlooms can come in yellow, green, purple, or even stripes. These tomatoes are beautiful in a sandwich or salad. But really, as with every tomato, the possibilities are endless. Try one of these recipes from Whole Foods Market.