August 20, 2008
I have news, friends. Do you remember how I told you about my grandfather and his pretty spectacular green thumb? Heck, the man’s thumbs are probably both green. Well, what I failed to mention is that, sadly, I did not inherit this trait. It must be a recessive gene that didn’t make it’s way into my quadrant of the Punnett Square. Despite great effort, our flowers struggle and our herbs wither. It’s a sad thing. Even knowing this, my grandparents generously entrusted us with a tomato plant when we were in Minnesota at the end of July. I guess they supposed that even I could not reverse a half-summer’s worth of nurturing.
And, oh how I tried. First, there was the matter of the storm I mentioned a couple weeks back. The tomato plant did not fare so well, though it fared better than our deck furniture, much of which blew away completely. After that blustery night, we nursed the tomato plant back to health. Even so, days after the storm I’d keep finding still-green orb blown into one corner of the deck or another—debris from the storm. This induced a constant lower-lip-jutting-out on my part, which in turn induced Kevin to suggest we buy the plant a proper cage to support the wooden stake that was then (half-heartedly) holding up the plants’ limbs.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
We did this and put it together, learning, shall we say, as we went along. The final product was not pretty, but the plant—wonder of wonders—began thriving. And, slowly but surely, the orbs have brightened from lime green into a fire-engine red. I’ve been plucking a couple ripe tomatoes off the plant each day and I feel as though I’ve won the lottery each and every time. Here’s a peek:
The tomatoes on our plant are not as big as the green, yellow and red lovelies pictured in this post. Those were purchased at the farmers’ market last Sunday, but their fate—prepared simply and enjoyed heartily—is the same as the fate of our home-grown harvest.
When tomatoes are at their peak, like they are right now—be it from the garden, grocery, market or CSA share—I simply cannot get enough of them. My favorite preparation, hands down, is to slice them into thick rounds, sprinkle them with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper, and dig in with a knife and fork. A very close runner-up, though, is setting the salt-and-peppered tomatoes on a slice of toasted bread, allowing the tomatoes’ juices to soften the toast’s crispness ever so slightly. Today’s recipe—a tomato goat cheese sandwich—is just a gussied up version of my stripped-down favorite. I added coins of goat cheese, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a few basil leaves. And I can’t wait to try it again soon with our homegrown (!) tomatoes.
Tomato & Goat Cheese Sandwiches
4 slices multigrain bread, toasted
1 large tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup basil leaves (loosely packed)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle salt and pepper on the tomato slices. Divide the tomato slices, goat cheese and basil leaves between two slices of the toasted bread. Drizzle each topped slice with half the balsamic and oil. Top each topped-and-drizzled slice with one with one of the remaining slices of toast. Serve whole or sliced in half.