Tomatoes, at last. A week or two behind schedule because of the cold spring, but here they are. A rainbow spectrum from vivid green to golden yellow; through bronze, rust, red, scarlet, and magenta. Some gnarled and bulbous — the greenmarket displays are a Hieronymus Bosch still-life celebration of everything good about summer.
“I love tomatoes,” Tracey Medeiros tells the Voice; the author was recently demonstrating a tomato salad from her The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook at the Union Square Greenmarket.
“Ideally, I’ll use a wide variety of tomatoes,” Medeiros says. “The colors and textures really make it special. One of my favorites is Black Prince. They’re oval, almost like a plum, with a beautiful dark glossy skin. They’re so sweet and juicy right now. I eat them hand to mouth, with a bit of salt to sprinkle in. Green Zebras are good to have in the mix. They have a mottled green striped skin, so they look amazing, and a slightly sour-sharp bite that I love.”
Look for tomatoes that are firm to the touch, not squishy. They should have a faint tomatoey aroma, and taut, unwrinkled skin.
Stokes Farm has a wide range of heirloom tomatoes, with names that read like Tolkien inventions: Brandywine, a scarlet monster packed with flavor; Nebraska Wedding, fist-sized, juicy, bright traffic-cone orange; Purple Cherokee, a brooding gothic violet with green shading, and, most poetically of all, Moonglow, a sweet and fragrant domed yellow fruit. Step outside the supermarket plastic carton. Look for the oddest, the most extreme — now is no time for timidity.
Slice, salt, and add some torn mozzarella. Blend with olive oil and use to top garlic-rubbed toasts or steaming hot linguine. Mix with ricotta, an egg, and parmesan, and bake into a pie crust. Thinly slice the best sourdough bread you can find, spread with mayonnaise and top with sliced tomatoes, a glug of extra-virgin olive oil, and a crunchy pinch of Maldon salt. Deseed and roast with a few slivers of garlic. Sauté with fresh corn and finish with pepper and fresh basil. Pile into warm pittas and top with yogurt and lemon zest.
“My tomato salad is a recipe by chef Plum at Plum Luv Foods, a farm-to-table restaurant in Connecticut,” Medeiros says. “I toss a bowlful of tomatoes together with oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and serve it with some crusty bread. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better.”