tomato season—andy mueller—sept 2020
For tomato lovers, September is prime tomato time. It's time to take advantage of all the farmer's markets and roadside stands and back yard gardens that feature nature's big red candy. Any tomato lover will tell you there is no comparison between a fresh picked, fully ripened tomato from the ground vs. one that's travelled across the country in a truck.
The reason for this difference boils down to one major factor - sugar. Tomatoes have a good amount of sugar that develops as they ripen naturally. The longer you wait to pick the fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit), the more intense the natural sweetness comes out. If, on the other hand, you pick the tomato still green and let it ripen on the counter or in transit, it may "ripen," by definition, but the sugars won't develop any more. You end up with a red color and not much flavor.
Back to the fruit thing. Botanically speaking, anything with a seed is considered a fruit. Tomatoes, peppers etc., are all fruits. They ripen like fruits and develop sugars and sweetness like fruits that we're more familiar with. That's why it is so important to let that big red candy ripen as long as possible on the vine, and eat it immediately. If you're not going to eat it, leave it on the vine for another time. Try this simple vinaigrette that compliments the flavors of tomatoes in a Caprese salad –
Fresh, fast and full of flavor - Enjoy!
For the vinaigrette -
In a mixing bowl add:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of salt
Whisk ingredients together. While whisking, drizzle in:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
To make the Caprese salad:
Slice two, medium-sized ripe beefsteak or Roma tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Slice one, 8 ounce log of fresh mozzarella cheese into 1/4 inch slices then layer tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate. Pull 8 fresh basil leaves from the stem and lay them on top of each other. Roll the basil like a cigar and slice it very thin to make a "chiffonade." Drizzle the vinaigrette over the tomato/mozzarella layers and garnish with the chiffonade of basil over the top.