Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes - What's Old Is New Again

While taking a stroll through my local farmers market, I discovered a wide array of tomatoes.  Some are red and round, red and oblong.  There yellow, orange, green and purple tomatoes.  Through visiting the farmers markets, I have discovered a whole other world of tomatoes. 

These “new” tomatoes have been around for quite some time.  It’s just that many heirloom tomatoes are not necessarily good for shipping.  Therefore, they don’t show up at your local supermarket.  However, local farmers grow for flavor and taste.  Long distance shipping is not a major concern for them.  This frees up farmers to grow what they like and most importantly, what we like. 

Local farmers are more likely to grow what is referred to as heirloom varieties.  An heirloom variety is generally a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family.  Many heirloom varieties are pre-Columbian and some are pre-European.  Some heirloom varieties can be traced back to Africa and Asia.  Heirloom vegetables come in a myriad of shapes, flavors, textures that are so different from commercial varieties seen in large grocery stores. 

This tomato salad recipe is a perfect place to show off heirloom vegetables.  If you like, capers, olives and a cheese, such as goat, or blue can also be added.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 6.


6 ½-inch thick slices crusty bread
1½ Tablespoons red-wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
3 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces


1.    Slice and toast the bread.

2.      Whisk together vinegar, salt, mustard, and pepper.  Add oil in a slow steady stream, whisking until dressing is emulsified. 

3.     Add onion and tomatoes.  Toss gently to coat.  Season with salt and pepper. Place bread on plate.  Top with tomatoes and serve.

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