Simone Appetit: Tomatoes are finally ripe for the picking | SierraSun.com

Simone Appetit: Tomatoes are finally ripe for the picking

The time is ripe to make a truly flavorful tomato salad and pretend it is still summer.
Courtesy Simone Grandmain |

Man, it’s about time. This year my tomato trials and tribulations could take up three columns. I plant my tomato plants in pots on my deck, and this “summer” I have gone through 12 of them and only scored six tomatoes, all of them this past week.

My plants froze a couple of times in, like, July, so I replaced them. Then, just as it looked like the weather was going to hold and I could look forward to some homemade marinara sauce, the rabbits discovered the plants.

So I moved them up onto a table this past month and still it looked like I was in for another year of fried green tomatoes. Then, voila, this past week they just went off and I had a half dozen fat, fresh, sweet tomatoes.

Apparently the late crop also proved true for my neighbors and friends because I keep coming home and finding bags of tomatoes (way more than my celebrated six) on my doorstep.

Then my local grocer, the farmers market, and Spud’s produce van got in on the act and they started offering up killer tomatoes. Hey! Better late than never.

The tomatoes right now are so juicy and flavorful it does not take much fussing to do them justice. I have been serving up a simple fresh tomato salad every chance I get and, still, I cannot keep up with the supply I am enjoying.

A simple remedy for storing great tomatoes for a rainy day is just to freeze them whole and then, when you are making your spaghetti sauce, just thaw them out, chop them up and add them to it.

Believe me, after the agony and expense of trying to harvest my own crop, I cannot stand to waste a single tomato. Following is a simple recipe for a killer tomato salad, the key being, of course, the tomatoes need to be great.

Now’s the time. Catch ‘em while you can.

Tomato Salad ingredients:

6 ripe, medium-to-large tomatoes, halved and then quartered

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 sweet onion, halved and then thinly sliced

1 avocado, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cheaters Incredible Vinaigrette:

1⁄3 cup Ken’s Steak House LITE Northern Italian salad dressing

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbls. balsamic vinegar

1 tbls. olive oil

Preparation:

In large bowl, toss tomatoes with salt and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Mix in remaining salad ingredients and let sit for about 30 minutes, again at room temperature, before dressing.

For the Cheaters Incredible Vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients in small bowl and then pour over salad while gently stirring.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at simonegrandmain@gmail.com.