Eat Well, Pregnancy Vegetable Comparison Edition: Heirloom Tomatoes

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
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One of Rebecca’s reader's (hi, Sydney!) suggested that each week we feature the vegetable or fruit that Babycenter uses to compare the weight and size of her “womb mates.” I love that idea so I am going to give it a try. I have missed 18 weeks of veggies and fruits, but will start this week and we’ll see how I do. It will be a bit challenging so bear with me!

I am rejuvenated and bursting with ideas after attending a beautiful wedding in Grass Valley, California where an unbelievable five course vegetarian meal was catered by Magpie Café in Sacramento. You can only imagine how gleeful I was when I heard that the dinner was sans all-things-animal, and when the courses kept coming, each one more amazing than the one before, I was like a little girl in a candy store. I took copious notes on the ingredients of each course, but stupidly didn’t take pictures to share. Suffice it to say, if you live in a 100-mile radius of Sacramento, you must try this restaurant. The one completely new idea that I took away from the dinner was cooking with pea tendrils, the tender young leaves and shoots of pea plants. Magpie Café made a Fettuccini dish with the pea tendrils and it was absolutely to die for. I am so excited to try some recipes with these next winter, as my pea plants have been long replaced by my summer garden and are now fully composted.

At 19 weeks, the babies are compared to heirloom tomatoes, and although it is a little early in the season to be finding them in abundance in farmer’s markets, I have started to see them in the grocery store. It is also time to plant them in most parts of the world, so I thought I would talk a little about growing them as well as using them in recipes. (See my last summer’s post for a few more tomato recipes).

According to Wikipedia, “an heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) heirloom cultivar of tomato.” Basically this means that they are older varieties of tomatoes that can pollinate by themselves through natural means and are not cross-pollinated with other species of tomatoes. This can lead, however, to some problems such as susceptibility to diseases and to cracking which we all have seen on heirloom tomatoes. Basically if you are going to grow them in your garden, find out which varieties do well in your area by asking other gardeners. I have had mixed luck growing them in my garden but have found two types that grow really well for me and give me a great harvest: Brandywine and Momotaro. Here is a picture of my Momotaro tomatoes last year.
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And here is my Brandywine plant this year…tomatoes are already forming which is a really good sign!
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Heirloom tomatoes should NEVER be refrigerated as it makes them go starchy. So, leave them on a counter out of the sun until you need them. They keep for several days, even up to a week, at room temperature unless they are badly cracked. Then they need to be eaten up rather quickly.

I eat my heirloom tomatoes raw. They are usually too juicy for cooking unless you are using them for a sauce or a soup. You can also freeze tomatoes for cooking by putting them whole in a plastic bag and then putting them into the freezer. I used them all winter in my recipes and it was so fun to have my delicious garden tomatoes reminding me of summer.

There is nothing like an open-faced hummus sandwich topped with a thick slice of heirloom tomato, fresh basil or arugula, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This is my go-to lunch most summer days. And then there is salsa and bruschetta (pronounced [brusˈketːa]. Home made, they are so much better than anything you can buy and are so easy to make. Make sure you use vine-ripened tomatoes, the sweeter the better. If local vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t available in your stores and farmer’s markets yet, look for Campari tomatoes sold in plastic boxes. They are delicious, very sweet and work great for both.
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Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

2 large heirloom tomatoes, 3-4 medium vine ripened tomatoes
(or a box of Campari tomatoes)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup finely chopped sweet onions
½ seeded finely chopped jalapeno (leave out if you like your salsa mild)
½ lime, freshly squeezed
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop tomatoes and let the extra juice drain out of them. Combine with the other ingredients and serve immediately. Serve as an accompaniment to any Mexican dish or serve with chips.
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served on a bean tostada

NOTE: You can adjust the quantities of the ingredients to your liking. I never measure and just keep tasting it until it tastes right to me. You can use any onions but I am a big fan of sweet onions.

NOTE #2: The salsa will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator but it will become watery.

Tomato Bruschetta
2 lbs chopped tomatoes
½ chopped onion (I like sweet)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 bunch chopped basil
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Toast thick slices of Italian or French bread (or cook on a grill). Rub bread with fresh garlic clove and top with the tomato mixture. Serve as an appetizer.
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VARIATIONS:
1.You can drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top if you want.
2. Add extra olive oil, 2 more garlic cloves, omit the onion, and serve on cooked pasta for an easy dinner!!

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(These two tomato salads are so easy and are my favorite ways to use fresh tomatoes.)

Heirloom tomato salad
5-6 cups heirloom tomatoes
(you can use several colors for a fun presentation!)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 T balsamic or red wine vinegar
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes into large chunks. Add basil. Pour vinegar and olive oil over tomatoes and basil and mix well. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve or refrigerate for several hours.

Caprese salad
Buffalo mozzarella or other FRESH mozzarella
Heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
Fresh basil leaves, sliced
Salt and pepper
The finest olive oil you can find

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices. On a large platter, arrange the tomato slices with a slice of mozzarella on top. Sprinkle basil leaves all over the slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve.
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These easy recipes bring out the full flavor of fresh vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and all can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. to meet your needs.

Enjoy!
Love,
WWW

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ED: GGC now has a search function (see right sidebar) so anyone needing to search specific recipes or archived posts, you now can! Sorry it took me six years to implement such a function. Big love to all!

16 comments:

Angie | 9:29 AM

Thanks, WWW! This small town Canadian girl adores your recipes!

avb | 9:38 AM

I love heirloom tomatoes and cannot wait to try making the salsa.

I created a riff on the caprese salad last year that has now become my go-to summer salad: I slice an heirloom (the Cherokee Chocolate ones are my fave) and put the slices on a cookie sheet and warm them in the oven. When warm, remove from oven and top with a little bit of goat cheese and basil chips (make basil chips by drying the leaves in the oven).

Sarah | 9:39 AM

This pregnant mama is now starving! Just found out I am about 14 weeks behind you GGC!

flyrish | 10:03 AM

Ooh, so excited for my heirlooms to grow! I'm glad that Brandywines do well in California, since we randomly selected those this year (as well as Abe Lincolns). Your hummus and heirloom sandwich sounds divine.

Lisa | 10:06 AM

This Canadian girl also loves your recipes!
I have 7 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the garden this year. (had 9 last year!)
I'm looking forward to my favourite summer breakfast: a toasted English muffin with butter and a slice of fresh tomato.

When we make bruschetta, we chop the tomatoes, put them in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt; let sit and stir a couple times. The salt draws out the moisture. Very tasty and less soggy.

ssm | 10:23 AM

Totally jealous of California summers. Seattle won't have heirlooms until late July, but it will be worth the wait to make caprese salad. Is it..."capris" or "ca-pray-say" or...er, I never know how to pronounce it! Whatever, it's delicious.

Martini Mom | 10:41 AM

Every summer meal I had at my grandpa's house as a kid included a sliced up tomato as a side. Nothing more to it than that - just a sliced up tomato. I thought it was odd at first, but it sparked a life-long appreciation for a perfectly ripe tomato. I practically live on caprese salads and sandwiches in the summer. LOVE!

dietplaid | 4:24 PM

Thank you for including the correct pronunciation of bruschetta. I am eternally grateful as that always drives me nuts!

Wendy Woolf | 4:46 PM

SSM, it's pronounced "ca-PREH-zeh" http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=caprese&submit=Submit

Katie | 7:42 AM

This is excellent!! Thank you!! And just in time too ;-) as I am just beginning work on my new garden patch wheeee!!!

Jill | 9:30 AM

Thank you for the recipes! Someday summer will come to Illinois (I guess we skipped spring this year). These will keep me going until the sun and warmth arrive. I'm too much of a chicken to grow heirlooms. Yours looks to be off to a good start.

Sydney | 9:54 AM

Ooooh! Very excited to see this post.

Those heirloom tomatoes are ENORMOUS!

Homemade salsa is one of those foods that you cannot replace with store-bought. I can't to wait to make some when the rain goes away here.

cd | 12:58 PM

Sacramento reader here! Magpie is AMAZING! Were any of their chocolate chip cookies served? If not, you must immediately return to this area and have one. They are . . . they are . . . no, I can't do it. Just eat one.

The Mommy Therapy | 7:08 AM

I am drooling over these! Our garden just started producing tomatoes and I can not wait to try these!

Thanks for sharing!

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