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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 . . .
Wellness 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!