Tomato love is in my genetic make up, passed down through a long lines of tomato lovers. Cherokee Purples top my list of slicers and then come a group of baby-size, sweet-as-candy ones just right for popping into your mouth. Bite into them and they burst with flavor.
My friend Sherry Riggs has grown the all-time big tomato this summer. She brought one by recently that weighed more than 2 pounds. It was 5 to 6 inches through the middle and 5 ½ inches tall. It looked like a heart and was worth a photo as you probably couldn't grow one like it if you tried. It was like two very large Beefsteak varieties that decided to cuddle up and grow together. It made the other big slicers ripe with envy.
The heat may soon curtail what has been a good year for tomatoes as the blooms don't pollinate well when temperatures rise. If you can keep them going, there could be a chance for more into the fall. A good tomato year has you thinking of all sorts of ways to use them.
Sliced for breakfast, lunch and dinner they are wonderful. Just a tiny sprinkle of kosher or sea salt and a generous grind of pepper is my favorite way to enjoy a good tomato. Then, of course, there is the cottage cheese and chopped tomato with green onions and chunks of avocado.
The BLT classically prepared with fresh sliced tomato, mayonnaise, leafy green lettuce and crisp bacon all sandwiched together with white bread is hard to beat unless you bring on some avocado again.
Too many mini tomatoes on hand? Slice them in half and add them to a saute or roast them with sliced new potatoes and onions. Sprinkle on a bit of coarse salt and some fresh thyme if you have it. To oven roast: Spread on a baking sheet prepared with a silicone mat, parchment or nonstick foil in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until mixture begins to brown slightly and potatoes are done. This dish makes a great side for grilled entrees.
Tomatoes themselves are lovely when roasted. Try roasting quartered tomatoes to use in your favorite salsa recipe. This little bit of caramelization gives a great boost to the flavor while concentrating the juices and bringing out the natural sugars. This pre-roasting can add zest to most any sauce recipe made with fresh tomatoes. I like to mash caramelized tomatoes together as a base for homemade pizza. They make memorable spaghetti and barbecue sauces.
There are a variety of fillings both hot and cold to use for stuffing tomatoes of any size. Use a small melon baller if you are hollowing out cherry tomatoes to serve as appetizers. Remove the stem end along with a small slice of tomato so the tomato will sit upright when filled. Fill with Pimento cheese, tuna or chicken salad to serve cold.
Your favorite macaroni and cheese makes a yummy filling to serve warm in a cherry tomato or as a side dish in medium-size tomatoes. Hollow out larger tomatoes using a reamer or larger-size melon baller.
Make gazpacho, a cold tomato soup with quick blender-chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers and onions.
Tomatoes add the crowning touch to salads whether they are mixed into leafy greens or carefully seasoned pasta or mixed-vegetable marinated ones.
Tomatoes pop with color and flavor especially when they're the season's best garden fresh vine-ripened Oklahoma tomatoes.