Planting Tomatoes

      • heirloomsHow to plant?
        • Consensus on tomato plants is that you plant in rows 3 feet apart and 24-36″ apart form each other. You may grow them closer due to space constraints.  Also anticipate need for caging and whether or not the plant is ‘determinate’ ( low height) or ‘indeterminate’  which can grow as long as 15 to 20 feet.
        • Trench or bury method? Neither method is wrong, both work well, I prefer burying.
        • Trenching can be good if your soil is rocky or hard packed, anytime when good depth cannot be achieved.                                                With your spade  carve a trench at least 4 inches deep and  as long as your plant is tall, less 2-3″s. Remove several sets of bottom leaves, make sure you leave at least 3 sets of leaves on top.  Many people pinch them off the day before to allow the main stem to dry and  scar.  Lay the tomato  with the top away from you, with the daytime sun to your back,  and cover with soil leaving the plant head angled out of the soil. Within  a couple of days the top will straighten. Remember when caging or staking, be careful not to penetrate where the root is located  in the soil. Your root stem system will run on the entire length of that now buried stem.
        • Burying is my preferred method,  it allows the plant to stay cool under hot conditions, and find moisture when it is parched.  Strip the bottom sets of leaves as in the trench method.  Dig a hole as deep as the tomato stem that is leafless. I also cage at this time. I place the cage over the open hole, secure it in place with pins if it is an enclosed type.  I then drop the tomato  from the top opening of the cage into the hole.  With an open weave cage you can toss the soil in and cover.
        • WATER LIGHTLY!  DO NOT DROWN.  Watering lightly as soil drys, will aid in root growth. Do not fertilize at least for the first week, until the tomato plant is ‘happy’ in the garden. Roots will form rapidly  along all the micro hairs of the stem that is buried.

      *****Only fertilize once  after planting, Otherwise you will have a beautiful GREEN plant and NO tomatoes******
      Use Tomato Tone ora natural fertilizer like Fish Emulsion or liquid seaweed. They work best. After tomatoes start setting you can do a liquid spray of the same, increase the dilution rate.

OOPS it’s going to get unseasonably cold, what do I do?  Be prepared for an unseasonal low.  A tarp, blanket or sheet will do.  If you already have cages or stakes in place, they will hold the covering from damaging your plants.  I have supported a tarp or sheet with lawn chairs at opposite corners. If you have large pots you can cover individual plants. If cold is coming,  cover as soon as you are able.  **Caution do not cover a plant with a black tarp or black pot in hot sunlight.

Plant Sale and Vendor event-May 18th Saturday-10-1pm

May 18th Saturday-10-1 @ the Community Center Plant sale and Vendor event

1st 250 children receive a Bean Seedling  gb

Yoga Born ‘Stretch & Stroll’ Event

NoRA Cupcake Truck, gluten free and vegan selections 


Red Cabin Restaurant, egg sandwiches and lunch


From the South Windsor Farmers Market Group

Garden Accessories, Baskets for harvesting, spades, gloves, row Markers, Children’s gardening rake and shovel packs

plant a carrot


Heirloom tomatoes Plants

Garden Peach


Principe Borghese

Garden Peach Tomato

Goldman's Italian American@ 2.5 lbs

Black Cherry


  • Garden Peach
  • Principe Borghese
  • Black Cherry Tomatoes
  • Jaune Flammé
  • Goldman’s Italian American Tomato
  • Riesentraube
  • Multi pack all red
  • Multi pack rare
  • Host  and Siberian Iris Roots
  • Rose of Sharon starter trees
  • Japanese Black Trifele
    •  Also Garden Accessories, Baskets for harvesting, spades, gloves, row Markers, Childrens gardening rake and shovel packs

Futtner’s Family Farm


  • Hanging plants
  • Herbs
  • Annuals
  • Vegetables
  • Landscape bedding plants


Colgan Farm, organic cuke colgan Mustard 936578_334639159972832_81612571_n

  • Cucumber plants, straight 8’s and pickling
  • Rutgers and Sarah Black tomato plants
  • Radishes, Daikon & more

Burke Ridge Farms camrea 2 016

  • Memorial Day planters, annuals, vegetables herbs

Master Gardner

Additional vendors are signing on


Featured Tomato-Garden Peach-Plant Sale May 18th

Garden Peach

Garden Peach

Featured Tomato-Garden Peach-Plant sale May 18th @ the Community Center, Nevers Rd. South Windsor.

Plant sale May 18th @ the Community Center, Nevers Rd. South Windsor.

Garden Peach Tomato is an  open-pollinated Tomato/Heirloom . For well over a century savvy gardeners have brought Peach’s little fruits indoors before frost to keep for several weeks.

2 oz. yellow fruits blush pink when ripe and have thin fuzzy skins somewhat like peaches. Early, prolific, soft-skinned, juicy and very sweet.

Garden Peach Tomato

Garden Peach Tomato

Light fruity taste is not what you’d expect in a tomato.

Burpee in 1893 called it “delicate, melting in the mouth like a grape.”

Amy Goldman Author of The Heirloom Tomato,  places its 1890 origins with plant breeder

Elbert S. Carman, owner and editor of The Rural New-Yorker. It was introduced as a novelty in Hallock & Son’s (of Queens) 1890 catalog.

Amy Goldman's Book 'The Heirloom Tomato'

Amy Goldman’s Book ‘The Heirloom Tomato’

Days: 71
Size: Indeterminate, cage well
Color: Yellow with peach blus
Season: Early- Mid Season
Type: Heirloom

Featured Tomato-Principe Borghese-Plant sale May 18th

Featured Tomato-Principe Borghese-Plant sale May 18th @ the Community Center, Nevers Rd. South Windsor.

Principe Borghese

Principe Borghese

In the Tuscany region of Italy, Principe Borghese fills backyards, to be dried and used in sauces and cooking. This prolific little tomato is also well suited for salads and snacking. Dehydrating in the oven or roasting brings out the extra sweetness.

They have very vigorous vines up to 6 feet and produce huge amounts of plum

Principe Borghese

Principe Borghese on the vine in clusters

shaped fruits. The fruits are deep red and have very low water content, making them perfect for drying. They have a wonderful, full flavor.

Days: 75 days
Size: determinate-Low growing
Color: Red
Season: mid- Late-Season
Type: Heirloom from Tuscany

Featured Tomato-Black Cherry-Plant Sale May 18

Black Cherry Tomatoes are GARDEN CANDY. Mahogany colored with a pinkish hue. These tomatoes are a perfectly round cherry with classic tomato taste,with a sweet yet rich complex flavor.

Black Cherry

Black Cherry

The plants are vigorous and prolific and yield abundant crops in huge clusters of 1″ round, deep purple, mahogany-brown cherry tomatoes.  The open pollinated, seeds may be saved.


Mixed Cherry

Mixed Cherry

Days: 65
Size: Indeterminate, cage well
Color: Dusky purrple
Season: Early-Season
Type: Heirloom

A salad full of mixed colors of tomatoes is a delight at any table.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad




Featured Tomato-Jaune Flammé

Jaune Flammé (or Yellow Flame in French) is an extremely prolific French heirloom tomato that has clusters of 6, beautiful, 3-4 ounce round, golf-ball sized tomatoes that are persimmon-orange inside and out. This tends to be one of the earliest tomatoes in the garden.. They are irresistible. You will want to eat them while picking them in the garden.

Jaune Flammé

Jaune Flammé

This orange beauty has a full-bodied tomato flavor that literally bursts in your mouth.  Jaune Flammé is not only decorative in a salad, it is delicious. It makes a great flavored sauce as well.

Days: 70
Size: Moderately Indeterminate , cage well
Color: Yellow-Orange
Season: Late-Season
Type: Heirloom

Featured Tomato-Goldman’s Italian American

Italian paste tomato

Goldman’s Italian American

Goldman’s Italian American Tomato was named by Amy Goldman for her father’s grocery store in Brooklyn after she found this at a roadside grocery store in Cernobbio, Italy.

In Amy’s book she says…”voluptuous, red-ribbed, and very heavy in the hips-makes sauce as thick and rich as any tomato I’ve ever grown.”

Goldmans’ Italian American keeps up a steady production of large, red, pear shaped, paste tomatoes with exceptional flavor and few seeds. Nearly one pound per fruit! Makes one of the creamiest tomato sauces you’ll ever cook. “Excellent, sweet and luscious.”

Goldman's Italian American@ 2.5 lbs

Goldman’s Italian American@ 2.5 lbs

The fruits are generally 1 pound. In South Windsor CT. during the 2010  growing season we had a tomato 2.5 lbs. 6.5 inches across. Seeds were saved for this years plants for 2013. Relaunches Its Mobile App For Finding The Best Restaurant Diskes has relaunched it’s mobile app designed to help people find the best meals in their local area. The app uses social media to let users recommend their favorite dishes. Users have said that they don’t trust restaurant recommendations until a certain number of people have ‘liked’ a particular restaurant or dish.

While the app currently only works in New York and San Francisco, the company is planning to expand to other cities in the future.

How Tenderized Beef Could Make You Very Sick

If you enjoy a nice juicy steak when going out to eat, be sure to read this article.

Apparently the process used to tenderize and marinate steaks can actually lead to more bacteria inside the steak then would normally be present.  And if the meat is not properly cooked, as often happens at restaurants, people eating it could get very very sick.

Hollow needles are sometimes used to inject flavorings, or what the industry calls “digestive agents.” Marinades also may be added to meat, which can add to contamination risks.

Surveys of beef producers by the USDA found that most use mechanical tenderization to improve quality.

A large percentage of mechanically tenderized meat – the industry produces at least 50 million pounds a month – winds up in family-style restaurants, hotels, hospitals and group homes.

But a more recent study published last year in the Journal of Food Protection found that bladed and marinated steaks were two to four times riskier than those that had not been mechanically tenderized.

For example, some in the beef industry acknowledge that they do not test their mechanically tenderized steaks for E. coli, as they do ground beef, because they believe the risk of illness is lower.

Plants that do test meat must make results available to federal inspectors if asked, but they are not required to alert the government of results that are positive for pathogens.

Don’t eat undercooked meats and when in doubt, throw it out. Or ask the chef how the meat was really prepared.  It’s your life and it’s too important to risk it on bad food.

Want To Live to Be 90? Eat Like a Greek Islander!

On the Greek island of Ikaria the residents are twice as likely as the rest of us to live to be 90. How do they do it? A healthy diet and laid-back lifestyle apparently does the trick. And what islanders are eating is different then in the West:

[A] breakfast of goat’s milk, wine, sage tea or coffee, honey and bread. Lunch was almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion or a spinachlike green called horta) and whatever seasonal vegetables their garden produced; dinner was bread and goat’s milk. At Christmas and Easter, they would slaughter the family pig and enjoy small portions of larded pork for the next several months.

Islanders also enjoy a warm beverage which translates as “mountain tea,” “made from dried herbs endemic to the island,” a rotating, seasonal list that includes wild marjoram, sage, mint, and dandelion leaves. They also drink a lot of wine and coffee, and eat far less meat then we do.

Their diet does not include processed foods that are a common staple of our western diets. They also take naps in the afternoon, stay up late, and sleep in on most mornings.

If this is what helps get people to age 90 or beyond, we’re all for it. Sign us up for a Greek Island cruise!

Grilled Watermelon with Feta & Balsamic Drizzle

This seems like it would be unappetizing, But it is incredible delicious and light. For lower calories, skip the olive oil and go for fat free feta.

Watermelon  cut 1″ thick

  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil or Pam spray
  • A pinch of Salt optional
  •  fresh  greens
  • Feta or goat cheese crumbled,Fatfree Feta for low calorie option
  • Pepper to taste

Pam Spray or lightly oil watermelon before Grilling. Grill on hot grill pan or BBQ for 1-2 minutes until grill marks appear. Place on bed of greens, sprinkle with  cheese, and drizzle your favorite aged balsamic, salt and pepper to taste.


Glitter’s Miracle Rice with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Rice and other Goodies

From my friend Anna O’Brien the super weight-loss blogger


Glitter’s Miracle Rice

  • 1 C Whole Grain Brown Rice
  • 1 C Lima Beans
  • 1.5 C Chopped Mushroom
  • One Half of a Large Spanish Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Brummel and Brown
  • .5 Tsp Cumin
  • A Pinch of Garlic Powder
  • One Cube Chicken Stock
  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts

Chop mushroom and onion into medium size pieces (there is likely a fancy cooking term for this. Sadly,  I am unbearably unfancy)

Cook whole Grain according to the directions on the package With Broth, substitute chicken Bouillon for Veggie for a Vegetarian option. Add Lima beans, mushroom, onion, Brummel & Brown and seasonings into the rice once it reaches it’s initial simmer.

Halve Brussels sprouts and then cut them into thick slivers. Using a hot skillet and the wonders of Pam, saute the sprouts until they are light brown, set aside.

When the rice mixture is completed cooking, fold in the Brussels sprouts. The resulting yield is 4 servings at 297 calories a pop. Put on your crown and enjoy this rice like the Carb Queen you are.

Summer Harvest Time For Winter Squash

It’s that time of year again, Winter squashes are making their way to Farmer’s Markets, Farm Stands and supermarkets. Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, and Delicata. Great baked, boiled or Microwaved. When the weather gets chilly theirs nothing like a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Summer Harvest Time For Winter Squash

Farmers Market Cornucopia

  • Best way to peel a smooth winter Squash.  prick with a fork on all sides, microwave for 2-3 minutes, remove, easier to peel easier to cut. From here you can
  • cut in half diagonally, and roast whole for 45-50 minutes @350 degrees , skin side down, or up, make sure you  use non stick spray either way
  • cube and roast @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes,  serve mashed or as savory soup see recipe
  • cut in large chunks, boil for 25 minutes, or until fork tender, drain, and mash, use your favorite herbs, and a hint of brown sugar optional if low calorie is not mandatory

Ribbed Small squashes like acorn and delicata, pierce  with fork,  microwave 2 minutes, cut in half and seed

  • microwave 12 minutes on high for 2 halves, face down, remove from microwave, serve 1/2 per person,  for  a  nice presentation,  fork fluff, add a topper of caramelized onions and apples, a  center filled with rice,  the  ideas are endless
  • Roast in oven the same way as above for 45 minutes at 375 to prepare for whole, cut off the stem and 1″ of squash to use as a lid, scoop out seeds. If you are baking a small whole squash per person, cut a little flat spot on the bottom, Serve as a whole baked,  maybe with a surprise under the top, such as rice,  cooked apples, caramelized onions
  • cut in 1″ wedges and oven roast like oven fries. Use cooking spray on top and bottom to brown to save calories or drizzle olive oil  to crisp, 25  minutes at 375.

Large Squashes, like pumpkin and spaghetti

  • A jumbo winter, like Hubbard or pumpkin,  prepare as other squashes above, roasting whole will be an hour or more, due to size. Cutting in half and seeding speeds cooking time. Squash is done when fork is able to penetrate easily
  • Spaghetti squash is an adventure, to microwave whole, pierce deeply all over microwave on high for 20 minutes, steam should be apparent, pierce  to see if tender,  cook another 4 minutes if necessary, let sit  for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut in half, remove seeds,  pull strands into a serving bowl, for a low cal pasta meal, serve  as a pasta replacement or a 50/50 swap. 1/2 seeded squash can be treated the same way,  for oven roasting cook 1 hour at 350. To with Parmesan for a quick side dish

pleas submit your favorite recipe, for Steffie to add!

Spaghetti Squash Guilt Free Pasta Alternative

I just heard a big thunk, I guess I didn’t poke a big enough knife holes in the Spaghetti squash. The microwave will need another cleaning tonight. Puncture a spaghetti squash deeply with a fork or knife. Microwave a very large squash for 20 minutes. Steam should be coming out of the holes at the end of this time. If not, microwave for another 4 to 5 minutes. Let squash sit in the microwave for 10 minutes after cooking. I did an extra small for 8 minutes. Pull threads into a bowl, and dispose of seeds, toss with your favorite sauce or butter 42 calories per cup. You can purchase at farmer’s markets for a pretty low price. Yummy Yummy. For  more quick ideas follow us on facebook!

Mcdonald’s Under 400 Calorie Menu

This is the new menu that will appear at Drive ups and Counters at McDonald’s

restaurants. The long and the short, they say that 80% of their selections are UNDER 400.

I know its hard to believe! The one thing missing is the FAT,  If something is 200 calories and mostly from fat,  that will not impact your body the same way as 200 fatfree calories will. Many thanks to Hungry Girl for posting on her website.

Buyer beware. For more Cook Me This, Follow us on facebook.


Fresh Corn on the Cob vs Canned-The Cost Myth

Decobbing and freezing is the way to go.  Buy the Fresh Corn on sale throughout the summer. 2012 is the year of the cornfield drought in the Midwest. Currently  the media is saying it will drive up prices on not only corn but other products derived from corn.

All summer long through October’s final harvest, corn on the cob ranges in price as low as 10 cents an ear to $5.99 for a dozen for Farmer’s Market native. Corn is made into Ethanol for fuel, Corn Syrup, Corn Meal, Popcorn, you get the idea.

Will the price of frozen and canned corn go UP?  Definitely! Even if we had a bumper crop, the production costs to harvest, frozen and canned most likely will never drop. Decobbing is the Frugal, healthy way to go.  Buy the Corn on sale throughout the summer. Here’s the reason why? A can of Niblets, drained says it has 3.5 servings, 1/2 cup each or One & 3/4 cups total.  A bag of Steamable vegetables says it contains four  servings of 2/3 cup. The math is hard but its Two and 2/3 cup.
Four medium ears of fresh corn yields just about 2 1/2 cups when taken off the cob.
When corn is  $6 a dozen or below it’s the ultimate bargain. Cheapskate mathematics; 12 ears=7.5 cups or the equivalent to 4 1/4 cans or 2.8 bags of Steamable frozen.  The corn on the cob is the Better choice, its fresher, tastier and Cheaper than prepackaged supermarket items.. It wasn’t so long ago frozen corn was 99 cents and cans were 3/$1.  Last I checked it was $2.19 for frozen bags and up to $1.59 for a can of Delmonte. If you don’t catch it on a weekly sales ad in can really be expensive. Frozen veggies still pop-up on sale from 99 cents and cans often are 2/$1 for store brand. When the pricing is low DO stock-up. .

BUT! Kids love to peel corn!!! Its portable food. Why not have summertime all year round at the table? The USDA  says the average ear of corn is 80 calories 17 carbs 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of protein.

You can freeze ears whole, cob chunks, or de-cob and bag the kernels.  To strip corn off the cob, first peel and rub off the corn silk, use a sharp knife or decobbing tool. Hold the cob upright with the tip in the air, and slice downward. Prepare a large pot of boiling water for blanching and a bowl of ice water for chilling after blanch. It’s suggested that sweet corn should not be salted while preparing. To blanch, plunge the corn in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, remove corn and immediately place in an ice water bath. Blanch and chill times should be equal. Drain and seal in Ziploc type or a vacuum bag. Portion by your family meal size. Eliminate as much air out of the bags as possible for freezing. To reheat, boil or steam for 5 minutes, or microwave for 4 minutes. The blanching process has already partially precooked your corn. You won’t be just saving money; you will be enjoying the freshest taste and nutrition. If you’re lazy like me, toss peeled corn or kernels in bags without blanching and freeze, it’s still going to taste better than canned.

If you cannot take advantage of freezing from fresh, take advantage of sales on frozen and canned, stock up then. It applies to all veggies not just corn. Also be generous, don’t forget to donate to the local food bank, when the prices are low.

The choice is clear, when the seasonal veggies are abundant, buy fresh and freeze, when the stock-up sales at the grocers pop-up, take advantage.


Gluten Free Cornbread or Muffins

This recipe can  be made with regular flour if Gluten Free is not a necessity. Flours are available at most grocers, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and now Walmart  Online.  I tried this in a Silicone Muffin Pan

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Use nonstick spray on large muffin tins, or 8×10 metal, silicone or foil shallow baking pan.

To make Muffin/bread batter

  • 1 cup Gluten Free cornmeal, all corn meals are not created equal
  • 1 cup alternative Gluten Free Flour, Bob’s Redmill Pancake flour adds a lightness. Rice Flour, Amaranth, Quinoa flour, Chick Pea flour will do. A combo flour like Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free has a better than average outcome.
  • 1/2 cup sugar or alternative, Agave and Honey reduce to 1/3 cup
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder-gluten free
  • 1 cup liquid, Milk, soy, almond or apple juice/cider
  • 2 eggs fork beaten or 1/2 cup substitute of egg beaters or whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil, avoid margarine
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • Options can include, Raisins, cinnamon,  dried fruit, pumpkin pie spice,  ginger.
  • Mix all dry ingredients well, for a grainier more hearty muffin  use a 1 1/3 cups corn meal to 2/3 gluten free flour
  • Whisk in wet ingredients, mixture should not be lumpy
  • Add optional spices and fruits

Fill muffin tin equally, or spread into non glass baking pan. Bake 22 minutes, makes 6 large muffins, or one small tray of 12 pieces of cornbread when divided. For small muffins reduce time to 18 minutes

Serve warm, or cool and store. Freezes well.

301 each calories based on using agave method and apple juice.46 carbs  11 fat, 5 protein

******This is a gluten free recipe, not diet friendly



Grilled Balsamic Sundried Tomato Pesto Chicken

This entire dish is less than 350 calories. Waist line friendly, taste bud joy!

Flecks of basil and sundried tomato cling to the chicken after grilling. The Balsamic vinegar sweetens as it grills. We served it with 3/4-1 cup of Steamfresh Brown & Wild Rice. Undressed heirloom tomatoes on the side, balanced out the meal.

Ingredients for dinner for Four

  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, Purdue breast slices are best
  • Prepared pesto or  make fresh pesto
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, preferably not packed in oil which increase calories
  • 4 tablespoons sundried tomato

To prepare chicken other than thin slices, butterfly open to flatten, or pound to 1/8 thickness between 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap. The back of a large metal spoon works great. If you substitute other bone in chicken, take into account the longer cooking time.Remember chicken should never be served until it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees as recommended by the USDA.

The day before or at least one hour before grilling, use one tablespoon of pesto per breast. Due to salmonella concerns do not handle raw chicken unless you wash your hands prior to handling other ingredients. I use a rubber spatula to spread pesto on both sides.If using prepared pesto, mince sundried tomatoes fine, add to pesto and mix. Sundried preserved in oil adds 100s of calories to your dish. Dry-packed sundried tomatoes are  generally stocked in the produce department. Cover and chill one hour or overnight.

While grill is heating, drizzle 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar per breast. All balsamics are not  equal, an aged Balsamic has a sweeter taste. Investing in a good premium bottle is well worth it. You may find a premium balsamic can replace dressings on salads.

Grill and serve. Grilling times vary per BBQs.

The leftover chicken is great served in sandwiches and salads.


Diet Changes & Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Hot Flashes

A new study from the Kaiser Permante Women’s Health Initiative has shown that dietary changes and modest weight loss helped significantly ease the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats in study participants. Of the over 17,000 post-menopausal women studied, those who ate a low-fat diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and also lost weight during the year-long study experienced the highest reduction of their symptoms.

While previous studies had shown that weight gain and high body weight were most associated with increased symptoms like hot flashes, this was the largest survey to date that attempted to answer the question of whether eating a healthier diet could help women reduce the level of symptoms they experienced.

“Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause,” said Bette Caan, DrPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the senior author of the study.

“Weight loss, especially loss of fat mass but not lean mass, might also help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats,” according to the study’s authors.

Other studies have shown similar symptom reductions in breast cancer patients when weight gain is prevented after their initial diagnosis.


Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pesto

Heirloom tomatoes are my obsession!

There is nothing better on a hot  summer day than a lunch or dinner with a great tomato salad. This particular picture was an entry for a fundraiser cooking contest. The salad was an honorable mention, and is featured in the Rockville Bank 150th anniversary charity cookbook.

White, striped, pink, & green tomatoes are all represented on this plate. Markets  such as Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods carry heirlooms year round. If you are unable to find in your local market, try summer time farmers markets. Not only will you find colorful tomatoes, but purple potatoes, fresh herbs, local melons, unusual squashes and delicious native corn. The flavors of local summer veggies is outstanding compared to super market fare. A red perfect tomato from the supermarket is grown for beauty and durability for transport, The taste and nutrition had been bred out! Scientific American had a recent report on how taste has become diminished.

What you need

  • 1 lb or more various tomatoes, cherry to beefsteak, caution do not refridgerate
  • Fresh log of mozzarella cheese like BelGioioso cut into 1/8″ slices
  • A Bunch of fresh basil about 4 cups of leaves, washed and all stems removed, you can combine Sweet Italian, purple or Thai depending on taste preference. Save  some leaves for garnish.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil or other neutral preferred oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional squeeze of lemon to preserve Basil’s color
  • Garlic  cloves optional
  • Pine (pignoli) nuts optional or Walnuts if pine nuts are unavailable
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Combine fresh basil and optional garlic and nuts with 1/2 of the olive oil and pulse in a food processor. Add oil as needed to create a paste. If leaves do not grind it is an indication you may need more oil, you may need to use a spatula to move all leaves into the blade. If paste is runny add more basil. The paste should be green and smooth. I do not add salt until after adding cheese. When pesto is smooth add Parmesan and pulse gently.  over processing can COOK the cheese. The ratio should be 8:1, Basil to oil.

Slice  Beefsteaks, slice or quarter all your medium tomatoes, leave cherry tomatoes whole or halve. Remember do not refrigerate fresh tomatoes if it can be avoided.

Just before serving, assemble your platter with larger tomato slices at the base, separate slices with mozzarella. I tiered my salad with 3 layers of  beefsteaks and decorated the platter with  alternating colors and sizes. Garnish with basil leaves.

Drizzle pesto on salad or serve on the size. Serve Balsamic as a side as well.

This salad does not need to be dressed, the olive oil in the basil  combined with balsamic to taste, is the perfect dressing.

This is my Favorite summer time meal!