Tag Archives: cherry tomatoes

Summertime Bliss: Sun-Warmed Cherry Tomatoes

6 Jul

Few things beat the taste of a tomato that’s come straight from the garden. And cherry tomatoes offer that extra, satisfying little pop as you bite into them. The photo below shows our first harvest of the season, but the tomatoes in this bowl won’t make it into any recipe; these sun-warmed beauties are all going to be eaten just as they are–as a snack straight from Nature. However, there is a reason these tomatoes are called Sweet 100s: before long, I’ll be wondering what to do with all of them. I see lots of salads on the horizon, as well as our favorite Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil. And cherry tomatoes would also work in Roasted Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic with Basil–though I’d start cooking the onions and garlic first, adding the cherry tomatoes toward the end of the roasting time. I detect a common theme in both recipes: basil. And now that I recall, last I saw it, our basil was in danger of being overtaken by the flowering oregano that has run riot in the herb garden…. Time for some triage in the name of good eats!

 

Bay Area 2: Fruit and Vegetable Envy

25 Jul

While in Berkeley,  I was able to spend a lovely day with long-time family friends, and admire (ok, envy) their garden. It is a productive one–full of fruit trees and tomatoes and other vegetables–with not a rampaging dog in sight. The fruit trees–apple, fig, pear, persimmon, and plum–were all bearing fruit or on the verge of doing so, and the tomatoes were glistening. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, the birds were chirping–and everything I saw appeared jewel like. The contrast to my own garden was stark: the sun shines here, too, but the air is hot and thick, the neighborhood birds chirp only when the dogs are inside, I have no fruit trees, and my tomatoes have run wild (along with the zucchini plants–after just one week away, I came back to discover that two finger-sized zucchinis I had left behind were suddenly longer and thicker than my forearm–or anyone else’s forearm for that matter). Sigh.

But back to our friends’ garden. The photos below are of Satsuma plums, Seckel pears, and Sungold cherry tomatoes. This year was the first bearing year for the Satsuma plums, so jam making is on hold until next year when there is more of a crop. But how our friends will manage to set aside any plums for jam making is beyond me–I’d barely be able to get the plums from the tree to the kitchen without eating all of them. Perhaps when there are many, many plums to be had, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and people find the willpower to think longer term….


Satsuma plums

The Seckel pears also looked gorgeous, though I did not taste one since they were not quite ready to be picked. Last year was the first bearing year for the pears, so our friends ate what they harvested, gave some away, and did not have any left to store. This year, they will have a bumper crop and are trying to come up with a plan for what to do with them. Canning suggestions? Recommended pear recipes? We usually just eat them as they are or cut them into a fruit salad drizzled with a light honey-lime syrup. (Now that I think of it, I haven’t made that in a while; it would be perfect for a summer weekend brunch.) But I’d be happy to expand my pear repertoire if any suggestions come in.


Seckel pears

The Sungold cherry tomatoes really caught my eye. With multiple orbs of various colors (from green to gold to deep orange) hanging on each vine, they looked like garlands. There were also some Principe Borghese tomatoes in the garden, though I didn’t get a good photo. Those tomatoes are destined for sun drying — by pulling up the whole plant at the end of the season and hanging it upside down to dry in the sun. Our friend has not tried this before, but is counting down the days until she can conduct this natural experiment.  I’m counting down, too, since I’d like to know how that experiment works. My own non-cherry tomatoes have exploded (did I mention the 90+degree weather?), but my plants are not nearly as neat and tidy as their Berkeley counterparts because I didn’t know what I was doing when I planted them. The stakes I put in are not nearly tall enough, the space the tomatoes are in is too crowded (and there are roses there, too–a very bad idea of mine since thorns make tomato harvesting a tricky proposition). But, I may still try to sun dry some of the Romas, if I can get my act together and build a black box with glass lid in which to put them. Our neighbor in Australia did this every summer, and it worked like a charm.

 
Sungold cherry tomatoes

Until then, I will live vicariously through our friends, and wonder whether I can squeeze in a Satsuma plum tree somewhere in my own garden….

Recipe: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil

18 Jul

This dish has two advantages: First, it is another fantastic meal for hot summer days since the only part of it that requires cooking is the pasta. Second, it is a very nice way to use up some of that bumper crop of cherry tomatoes or basil from the herb garden.

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil
Serves 6

1 pint cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or Roma cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
freshly grated black pepper, to taste
1 7-8 oz. container bocconcini or ciliegine (baby mozzarella balls), drained
1 large clove garlic, very thinly sliced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. finely shredded basil (can use an entire .75-oz. pkg from the store)
1 lb. trofie, gemelli, or any spiral pasta
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese

Cut tomatoes in half and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add sliced garlic and olive oil; mix well and let marinate.

Cut the mozzarella balls into quarters (bocconcini) or halves (ciliegine). Add to tomatoes, folding in gently. Stack the basil leaves, roll them up tightly lengthwise, and slice finely, starting at one end of the roll and continuing until all the basil is nicely shredded. Sprinkle the basil on top of the tomato/mozzarella mixture.

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add a sprinkle of salt and the pasta and cook according to package directions just until pasta is al dente. Shortly before pasta is ready, remove about 1/2 c. of the cooking water and set aside.

Call all guests to the table; pasta waits for no one.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour tomato/mozzarella/basil mixture over drained pasta in pot and mix in the Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese. If pasta seems dry, add reserved cooking water, 1/4 c. at a time. Check seasonings; add more salt/pepper if necessary.

Serve immediately.