Farmer’s Market Tomatoes Three Ways

IMG_7222I realize I am taking a risk writing a food post about tomatoes.

First, I’m not a chef, food writer, or food photographer. I get that I have no business jumping into this bracket of the blogosphere, even for a good cause like summer tomato season. People who write about food professionally will have their opinions.

Even more so, I’m a Californian transplanted from New Jersey where the tomato happens to be the state vegetable—-and for very good reason. (Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable–but the fruit category was already taken by the blueberry.)

The Jersey tomato is legendary for its roundness, redness, and sweet acidic ripeness. It is probably the only thing about New Jersey that’s no joke.

My extended family, who are also from New Jersey and are legitimate foodies, will most certainly have their opinions about me lauding tomato recipes made with the high-priced heirloom impostors we have on this side of the continent. (Stand down Root clan!)

But a couple of weeks ago, I made a breakfast sandwich from a just such a tomato. Though lacking in just about every trait of even your average Jersey tomato, it was good enough to remind me of the white bread, tomato, and mayo sandwiches I ate standing at the kitchen counter in my childhood home.

After I devoured it (standing at the kitchen counter in my grown-up home), I went on an expensive tomato binge for days until I discovered our local farmer’s market had very respectable, Jersey-like tomatoes at a reasonable price.

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My favorite salsa bowl.

The way I see it, we’re all going to be in the same boat in a few short weeks. Back to bland, thick skinned, football shaped stand-ins, suitable only for spicy pico de gallo dressed up in a pretty bowl.

That’s why I’m going out on a limb to suggest three healthy ways to enjoy these late summer treasures before it’s too late. You don’t even need recipes—-just a high quality serrated knife so that the sweet juiciness of your tomato doesn’t end up in a puddle on the surface of your cutting board.

Good Morning Tomato!

This is the sandwich that started it all. Thanks to skinnykitchen.com and their take on the Panera’s Egg White, Avocado, and Spinach Power Breakfast Sandwich, I have another go-to healthy breakfast! If you’re watching carbs or portion sizes, choose a lighter bagel option or eat half for breakfast and pack the rest along with a piece of fruit for a mid-morning snack.

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Must be eaten standing up!

Classic California Tomato Sandwich

You don’t live in California for as long as I have and not learn that vegetables go on everything. Cucumbers, spinach, and a whole wheat pita elevate the soft white bread tomato sandwich of my youth to a whole new level. Anything but Hellman’s Mayo (Best Foods out here) is a deal breaker for me, but feel free to dress it up with your favorite dressing.

PicMonkey Collage

See my point about the knife?

Paleo-Gluten Free It Is!

Did cavemen eat fresh mozzarella? If they didn’t, they were missing out. You can’t exit summertime without making at least one Caprese Salad. Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar—-there are so many ways to make this salad, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. I think my niece killed it with her version. Here’s a picture I stole from our family Facebook page!

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Way to go, Elizabeth!

So foodies, Jersey tomato experts, and especially my Root family on the other coast—-fire away. I welcome all your comments. But mostly, I’d love a few more good ideas for ending my summer tomato binge on a high note.

Feel good. Be well. Meg

What is your favorite way to eat ripe summer tomatoes? I’d love to know!

Or try this week’s wellness prompt . . .  

IMG_7211Wellness Prompt: Summer brings back so many wonderful food memories for me. What is your favorite one from when you were a child? Take a few minutes to write about it. What thoughts, feelings, and connections come up around those memories? Have you kept those foods alive in your grown-up life today? 10 minute write . . . go!

18 Comments on “Farmer’s Market Tomatoes Three Ways

  1. Meg, for a non-food photographer, you made those tomatoes look awfully good! I am a snob about tomatoes since we have easy access to the Jersey tomatoes, but yours look pretty delicious as well.

    • I was thinking about people like you when I wrote this!!! I am visiting my parents in NJ early in September and am hoping to score a few delicious Jersey tomato experiences while I’m there! Thanks for the photo compliments. What would we do without our iPhone cameras!

  2. I live in California as well and have never had a Jersey tomato. I didn’t even realize there was a difference. Who knew? Home grown tomatoes are always the best but I’ve found some wonderful ones at our farmer’s market. I’ve also eaten that sandwich at Panera except that I always ask for a whole egg instead of egg whites. It just tastes better. I became spoiled for great tomatoes when I was in Italy and went wild for their bruschettas. Yum!

    • Hi Rebecca: Yes, New Jersey has the ability to grow a different kind of tomato–due to the soil and climate. Definitely better some years than others like everywhere. Bruschetta–I forgot about that. That will be next up on my list. Thanks for reading.

    • Gorgeous Caprese, Bonnie! I’m with you with the fresh basil leaves scattered around the plate. There’s not much more you have to do to them at that point!

      • Thanks! Yep, doesn’t take much dressing up (although I was annoyed with myself the other day when I made a more normal-looking one & went to the cupboard for oil & vinegar and oops, no vinegar!)

        So how do California peaches stack up to Jersey peaches? And corn to corn? The summer triumverate. I grew up in Hawaii but my mom’s from Basking Ridge and I have such fond memories of going to this one particular farm stand, Crane’s. Oh those peaches. Oh that corn.

        • Believe it or not, I kind of live in a food desert even though I am in California. I think most of our produce comes from very far away, so it’s hard to weigh in. Gotta head east when I want a real farm stand experience.

    • Somehow I knew that was coming! Thanks for reminder. Must share with the boys so they get both sides of the family’s opinion 🙂 Thanks for visiting Pat!!!

  3. And that is why the BLT is my favorite sandwich! 🙂 Great article, Meg!!!!!! 🙂

    • How could I forget BLT’s! Spoken like a true pig-loving southerner! I gotta go buy me some bacon!

  4. Wonderful post Meg. Thanks so much for sharing my Panera’s Egg White, Avocado, and Spinach Power Breakfast Sandwich. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!
    All the best,
    Nancy

    • Thank you back. It actually is a much better sandwich when you make it yourself—thanks for the recipe!

  5. Meg, we are on the same page about Jersey tomatoes. I look forward to when they are in season, and am a snob about other tomatoes. So glad you wrote about this!

    • A tomato snob! I love it. Many people don’t get or know about the Jersey tomato thing. It’s hard to explain!

  6. Yummy perfect!!! Fresh picked(purchased)bite and savor!!! Don’t forget tomato jam,very easy and let’s you have that great flavor in December.

    • Hi Susan! Tomato jam–I have to look that up. Have been wanting to try making my own jam for a long time.

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