Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms

Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms a.k.a. Why Regular Tomatoes Suck |

Why all the tomato hating? 

It's puzzled me for years how anyone could dislike tomatoes. They're sweet, sometimes savory, and compliment an endless variety of dishes. I figured it was a texture issue for most people. Too squishy, maybe? 

I never judged, though, cause I have my own weird food no-nos. I steer clear of mushrooms because I hate their rubbery texture. Can't do it. Love their flavor, though, especially in sauces. Seems weird, right? 

Someday I hope to incorporate mushrooms into my diet. I don't enjoy turning my nose up at mushroom laced recipes. If anything, being a picky eater is a nuisance. But, it's not unforeseeable that I may, in time, let curiosity lead me to noshing on a tasty mushroom or two. 

After all, I'm obsessed with onions and blue cheese: two things that I loathed only six-ish years ago. 

Keep an Open Taste Bud

And I've heard that your taste buds change every seven years. That might be an old wive's tale, but I choose to embrace it. Doing so forces me to try new things and give certain ingredients a new chance. 

Speaking of new things, I recently tried Heirloom tomatoes for the first time. For years I snubbed them, assuming they were just expensive tomatoes catered to the hipster variety of foodies. 

BOY WAS I WRONG! And what was my punishment for the reverse snobbery? 

Years and years of missing out on tomato ecstasy. Cause that's the best way to describe it. An ineffable, world shaking, ├╝ber conscious, soul wrenching bite of organic bliss. 

Heirloom tomatoes are THE HOLY GRAIL of tomatoes. 

Skeptical Reader: hey, that analogy doesn't work. There are lots heirloom varieties, but only one holy grail.
Me: Excellent observation, but shhhhh...
Skeptical Reader: But, wouldn't...
Me: You know, there can be lots of grails, like in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
Skeptical Reader: Yeah, but those are all fake. There is only one authentic grail.
Me: Are you suggesting there is a single tomato out there akin to The Holy Grail?
Skeptical Reader: No, I was simply arguing that...
Me: Good. Now, shush.

Yes, folks. They are so amaze-core (one of my own weird adjectives comparable to awesome/amazing...don't judge, it's fun to say) that you can eat them all by their lonesome. Chomping directly into a plain heirloom is perfectly acceptable. 

But maybe you want a tad more seasoning. Okay. Try liberally sprinkling a slice with salt & pepper. "Moar seasoning," you cry. (Your neediness is affecting your spelling). Take it a step further by drizzling with EVOO & balsamic vinegar or spicy maple balsamic vinaigrette, then toss it with fresh torn basil. But stop there...NOW EAT IT! Isn't it absolutely glorious? 

My Theory For Why Tomato Haters Still Exist

Which brings me back to the original issue: tomato hating. I now understand this phenomenon (to some degree). And I blame it on one thing: hybridized tomatoes. The perfectly round, vibrant red, never-a-blemish-on-them tomatoes that you find in the supermarket year round. They all look alike and taste the same--bland, unexciting, lackluster. These are not the tomatoes I know and love. They are a bastard offspring bred for a one purpose: to withstand pests and shipping.

Who Cares What They Look Like? Taste is All That Matters! 

Real tomatoes have blemishes. They are diverse in shape, color, size and taste. Yes, taste. What you've been eating in the off season (late fall, winter and early spring) is void of these qualities, which is why you should only eat them in season and use canned tomatoes for the rest of the year. 
Check out this 272 page book full of mouthwatering Heirloom tomato pictures, facts about each unique tomato, plus 50 recipes.
I highly recommend that you take a trip to whatever market sells heirloom tomatoes near you ASAP. Grab some grape & cherry tomatoes while you're at it, too. While tomatoes are still in season. They're a bit more expensive than that god-awful hybridized variety, but it's worth it. Try them anywhere you would normally enjoy tomatoes, but keep it simple. You want the flavor to shine through, so don't pair it with overpowering ingredients. 

Heirloom and Cherry Tomatoes with Cottage Cheese |
Black Cherry Tomatoes, Sunburst Cherry Tomatoes  and Grape Tomatoes with Cottage Cheese, Pink Himalayan Salt & Cracked Pepper. Sliced Bradbury Heirloom Tomatoes included in recipe but added after picture was taken. 
Heirloom and Cherry Tomatoes with Cottage Cheese
Sweet, juicy sliced heirloom and cherry tomatoes paired with cottage cheese and liberally sprinkled with sea salt & pepper make a healthy, but flavorful side dish or appetizer.
Serves: 1 (you can obviously double, triple, quadruple it if you feel like sharing)

10+ cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or left whole, if tiny 
1/4 of an heirloom tomato, cut into chunks
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
Sea salt (fine grain), to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Portion cottage cheese into a bowl or onto a small plate. Cut tomatoes, leaving a few small ones whole so they burst in your mouth when you eat them. Add tomatoes to the cottage cheese. You can stir them in or leave them on top. Sprinkle everything liberally with salt and pepper, to taste. Take a bite and savor it, my friend. Tastes like summertime. 

More Posts From The Rising Spoon:

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Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms a.k.a. Why Regular Tomatoes Suck |

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite variety of heirloom tomato? 

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks! 

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