Tomatoes, Basil and Fruit. Oh My!
by Lesley Stiles
Jul 29, 2013 | 467 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In ancient times August was known as Weod Monath, which also means weed month, when growth crescendos with lush plants of all kinds and peaks along with as many varieties of weeds as Carter has pills. Known as the hottest month of the year, August is traditionally the biggest vacation month too. An old English saying is, “If the first week of August be warm, the winter will be white and long.”

August is also Water Quality Month, but more importantly August is…drum roll…National Goat Cheese Month! Leading into one of the month’s largest crop – tomatoes! Tomatoes can astound a person on many levels. After many murmurous conversations between bees and plants, gardeners should have an abundance of pollinated flowers producing huge crops of looming, multi-colored fruits. Thick slices of said tomatoes pair swimmingly well with goat cheese slathered on slabs of lovely bread sprinkled with sea salt and chopped, fresh emerald leaves of sweet basil that is, hopefully, cohabitating peacefully alongside your tomatoes. The long standing favorite salad Caprese is always lurching in the wings, begging to be first on the menu. Truth be told, it never gets old, especially when you are using amazing cheese. Make it a mission to search finer cheese shops for Burrata cheese. It is fresh mozzarella on the outside and pure cream in the center, so it kinda smooshes with the tomato and basil, forcing you to catch your breath and calm your excitement after taste buds register the velvet. Try grilling tomatoes, which brings out sugars you never knew existed to give lush complexity to scrumptious summer concoctions.

To those who know me, it is no surprise that Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are one of my longstanding favorites. My garden partner Stephanie and I go crazy over them and make sure to get a lot planted at the College Park Organic Garden every year. Students love how sweet they are and very few make it past the pickin’. For those that do make it inside, conjure up a beautiful salad using Sun Golds cut in half, fresh corn cut off the cob, baby arugula, fresh crunchy chopped cucumber and crumbled feta. Drizzle excellent olive oil, squeeze lemon juice, crack sea salt and mix gently. It’s the salad you will live on for the rest of the summer.

Stone fruits swollen by sun are peaking this month as well and are bursting with natural sugars. Slice onto a piece of puff pastry and egg wash the dough. Pull it up around the fruit, sprinkle with a dash of raw sugar, and bake at 400 until the pastry is brown and the juices are bubbling. Eat this free form tart hot with melting vanilla bean ice cream and create a luscious sauce around your plate (to be licked up later when only loved ones are present.)

Mercury has been a bit high, but it is those evenings we live for when the sun gives up the fight and the gentle summer breeze off the bay rolls into our little valley, making it one of the finest places on earth to call home. Get out on the trails early and hydrate lots. Mangia.

Corn Fritters with Sweet and Sour tomatoes is the most popular item I prepare for folks all summer long, hands down. A little bit of work, but it will guarantee you a spot at any party, a lot of suitors and even several proposals of marriage.

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