Our heirloom tomatoes make a feast fit for a ... squirrel
We’ve had mixed results with our tomato crop this year.
Wife Beverly and I love tomatoes fresh from our little backyard garden, but so do the squirrels.
It seemed as soon as any of the tomatoes showed signs of ripening, the squirrels began feasting. (They also ate most of our Asian eggplant and our apples, and were joined in their crime spree by slugs who polished off our dill and parsley.)
We finally gave up and plucked all of the tomatoes that had not been half eaten and took them inside to finish ripening.
They’re now all ripening at about the same speed so we’re using them up as quickly as we can.
The only red tomatoes we planted this year were San Marzanos, which are good in salads or in sauces. We also have beautiful German Stripeds, which ripen to a bright yellow with scarlet streaks, and Cherokee Purples, which ripen to a dark brown-purple with green highlights. Both are lovely to behold but also have wonderful flavor.
Over the Labor Day weekend, we ate BLTs for the first time this season, but we used a big beefsteak-type tomato I purchased and which turned out to be a big disappointment.
We’re planning a fresh tomato sauce with pasta for dinner soon as a way to consume several tomatoes at once.
You can make a fresh sauce — no cooking — by puréeing the ingredients in a blender, but we prefer a less homogenized sauce. Here’s a good basic version.
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or skip the peeling and seeding and just chop them)
1/4 cup olive oil
6-10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 lb. pasta of choice
Salt and pepper
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and add the oil, basil, garlic and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and then set aside in a cool place for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and intensify. NOTES: There is no hard and fast rule about ingredients. You might, for example, grate some fresh carrots into your sauce for a little sweetness or add some capers or sun-dried tomatoes or both for piquant highlights. It’s your sauce and should reflect your taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and then cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When it is done, drain the pasta, and remove the garlic cloves from the sauce. Toss the pasta in the fresh sauce and immediately serve with freshly grated cheese on the side.
PHOTO: Our German Striped tomatoes ripening on the window sill.