Tomatoes are my favorite food in the entire world. I eat them in handfuls and bite into them like apples--no salt needed. My earliest memory with tomatoes involves my Grandpa Sam. When I was little, my brother and I spent a lot of time at his house. While my brother remembers refrigerated Milk Duds, I remember bowls of chopped up tomatoes and cucumbers with a bit of Italian vinaigrette. This is still one of my go-to snacks. What makes this memory so poignant is the way I used to make him prepare my tomatoes. See, I was the only granddaughter, and thus Queen of the World. I could get that man to do anything for me, including peeling my tomatoes. Yes, I made him take the peel off of raw tomatoes because while I liked the inside, the peel bothered me. Luckily for everyone involved, I no longer require peeled tomatoes. However, I do have two strict rules: tomatoes, if served raw, should be at room temperature, and they should be firm yet ripe. Mushy and cold are against the rules (this is why I did not prepare and refrigerate this dish, but many people do).
So, what are my favorite kinds of tomatoes? I have a hierarchy, because that's simply the way I roll. My favorite are cherry tomatoes, because they are bite size and have a great flesh-to-goop ratio. We grow a variety called Sweet 100's that literally produce hundreds of tomatoes and boast a great taste. Next, I really enjoy those hot house tomatoes they sell on the vine--in any color. Then come heirlooms and beefsteak for when I seek a slightly different flavor and lots of color. Grape tomatoes and Romas are my least favorite, as they boast too much flesh and tend to be blander in flavor.
Now that I have let you in on one of my obsessions, I will provide you with one of my favorite things to do with tomatoes. I don't really use a set recipe, as this is one of those dishes that demands Adjustment By Taste. Sometimes I like a lot of basil, sometimes I don't. Regardless, I am always up for a little bruschetta with a caprese (basil, tomato, mozzarella) topping.
Ingredients (2 sides, 1 meal)
3 medium sized tomatoes, cup up into small pieces (approximately 2/3 cup)
1 clove of garlic
Fresh mozzarella (I didn't want to pay $6 at the store, so sliced up some string cheese. So gourmet.)
Small bunch of basil
Salt & pepper
French or sourdough baguette/bread (I just cut up a big slice of sourdough)
1. Chop up your tomatoes, garlic, and as much mozzarella as you want to use. Start with about four chopped basil leaves, as you can add more.
2. Mix in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. If you want a fresher taste, add more basil. If you want it saltier, I hear that some people add capers.
3. Slice your bread and brush it with olive oil. Toast until it is crispy and hard.
I use my bread to scoop up the topping--anything to get out of washing one more dish.