Can I tell you my favorite way of eating tomatoes? Actually, let me qualify that question, because I think we can all agree that eating in-season tomatoes is a distinctly different experience from eating ordinary tomatoes.
I think tomatoes are the emblem of summer cooking, the absolute pinnacle in fact. When produce is as good as this, I use the term ‘cooking’ loosely. What I mean is, in-season tomatoes are perfect just the way they are. Raw. Juicy. With the least amount of distraction possible.
My favorite kind is the miniature variety: cherry tomatoes. They are the essence of tomato, bottled in very compact packaging. Way more potent, and to be eaten like candy. Or popcorn. You know, whatever you like to stuff your face with.
In fact, my mom used to buy pounds and pounds of these ruby droplets every week at the farmer’s market. She’d come home with brown paper bags stuffed full of them, and leave them on the counter for us to gorge on. Which we did.
I’ve continued this tradition into the years since I started buying my own groceries. Except now I have the Union Square Greenmarket to pick from. It’s not a terrible thing, to be faced with so many choices. The other day, I saw tomatoes as big as my head, NO JOKE. Well, actually, my head is kind of big—they were the size of normal human heads. That’s quite a sinister thought, considering the fact that some of them were oozing juices.
I love the ridged kinds. They remind me of pumpkins and are SO juicy. There’s also a variety that’s shaped like a peach. Amazing. And while I’m sure not all heirloom varieties taste like crack, Green Zebras are quite delightful.
Of course, I’ve got tomato recipes in my “repertoire” as well. I use the term ‘repertoire’ loosely, of course, because caprese salads don’t actually count as recipes, do they? Do they? They’re more suggestions, a recommended tossing together of beautifully complementary flavors.
Personally, I like my caprese salads simple. Simple doesn’t need a recipe.
Tomatoes, the freshest and loveliest you can get your hands on
Mozzarella, preferably fresh
A handful of fresh basil
Olive oil, the finest you have
salt & pepper
Cut up your tomatoes. Into slices, wedges, whatever you like and however much you want. Cut up the mozzarella, into slivers, slices, whatever you like and however much you want. Tear up your basil. I like to chiffonade myself. Combine them. Dribble olive oil, salt, and pepper on top to taste. I won’t dare issue amounts. One’s tastes are sacred.
My only suggestion is to let the salad sit for awhile, 10 minutes maybe. The flavors need to fuse together.