Sep 16, 2012

Jersey Tomatoes

Living in Southern California affords me the abundance and availability of every veggie and fruit imaginable. Our Farmers' Markets are exceptional and we are fortunate to be able to visit them on a weekly schedule throughout the year. 

One item that is missing from this Californian cornucopia is the Jersey Tomato. I have searched for years to experience a tomato that is reminiscent of those grown in NJ. Alas, none are to be found. That is not to imply that we do not have tomatoes aplenty. We do. They simply do not taste remotely like a Jersey 'tom-tom' as my father called them. 

Daddy would harvest his annual crop in late summer when they were still green. He would then carefully wrap each one in newspaper and store them in the cool and darkened basement in a farmer's bushel basket. Each evening when he came home from work he would go to the basement, select several of his prized 'tommies' (another favorite name which he gave them), bring them up to the kitchen and place them on the windowsill so that they could ripen within a day or two and be ready to eat. Their amazing metamorphosis from green-to-red could be measured on a hourly basis.

My father hated the ending of summer. It was his favorite season. The daily ritual of ripening his tommies on the windowsill long after the season had past enabled him to hang onto summer just a little longer than everyone else.

So, for those of you who are fortunate enough to still have some tommies available, be they Jersey or not, here is a great tomato salad recipe that is quite delectable and at the same time very healthy for you.

Summertime Jersey Tomato Salad

  • 6  red ripened Jersey tomatoes (if you can't get Jersey tomatoes, Beefsteak will do), cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • red radishes, finely sliced
  • red pepper, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I use California olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl. Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve promptly.
Great side dish for chicken.

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