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Tomato season is here

Submitted to The Union


It’s the height of tomato season, and BriarPatch is bursting at the seams with locally grown tomatoes. On offer are slicers, romas, heirlooms and cherries from Feeding Crane Farm, Weimar Farm and Higareda Farm.

Make caprese salad with an assortment of different tomato varieties, locally grown basil from Higareda Farm, fresh mozzarella (we love Burrata from Belfiore Cheese and if you’re feeling fancy, fresh Bufala mozzarella from Rusticone – Euro Pomella). Drizzle with Calolea olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a little salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

“Caprese salads can really make a grand entrance on the table. Sometimes we think of caprese salads as pink tomato slices in a spiral with mozzarella and a piece or two of basil. But if you let loose a little bit and use the very best ingredients, then you take caprese to where it’s meant to be. And it’s just so simple. The ingredients speak for themselves,” said Marketing Manager Rebecca Torpie.

Here’s Rebecca’s tips for making a showstopper Caprese salad:

Chop the tomatoes in rough chunks, and always cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half – it creates a nicer mouth feel and look on the plate.

Build a 3D plate – tuck in basil leaves so they create dimension, allow your tomatoes to fall around the plate. Casual and rustic is a nice look for dinner on the deck.

Substitute your regular mozzarella for burrata, a mozzarella that is loaded with a cream center, or buffalo mozzarella for a little more tang.

Think of your balsamic vinegar as an investment. Purchase the best, oldest you can afford. The older it is, the more syrupy and richer tasting it will be.

Add your balsamic and olive oil right before serving for maximum presentation wow factor.

If you have a collection of sad over-ripe not-so-perfect but packed-full-of-flavor tomatoes lingering on your kitchen counter, never fear, we have the perfect recipe …

Make panzanella! This Tuscan bread salad is traditionally made from stale, dried bread then re-hydrated from a dressing of the sweetest summer-ripened tomato juices, vinegar and plenty of olive oil.

We like this version that adds some mozzarella for richness and cucumber for crunch. It’s an ideal make-ahead dish; the longer the mixture sits (up to 6 or so hours), the better it tastes. Just be sure your bread is thoroughly dried out in the oven to avoid a mushy salad.

BriarPanzanella Salad

½ stale baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp fresh herbs like, rosemary, oregano and/or thyme

2 1/2 lbs heirloom or other deliciously ripe tomatoes, different varieties

8 oz burrata or buffalo mozzarella, chopped into rough 1-inch pieces,

½ medium shallot, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, diced finely

¼ tsp Italian seasoning

3 Tbsp fresh herbs like, rosemary, oregano and/or thyme

¼ cup your favorite cucumber, thinly sliced

½ cup basil leaves, chiffonade

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp capers

Heat oven to 400. Toss bread cubes in a big bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until they’re like croutons- golden and crispy, 6 to 12 minutes. Let cool.

In a mason jar, combine half of the vinegar, mustard, the fresh herbs, Italian seasoning. a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch salt and black pepper to taste. Close the top and shake vigorously to combine.

Chop tomatoes into rough 1 to 2 inch pieces and place into the bowl you used for the bread. Toss remaining ingredients except the bread and dressing in the bowl with the tomatoes and gently toss to evenly mix. Add bread cubes and gently mix again.

Toss with your dressing. Taste, adjust with salt and pepper and more olive oil if needed. Let sit for at least a half hour in the fridge, but you can let this rest for up to three hours in the fridge.

Add bread cubes, cucumber mixture and capers to the tomatoes and toss well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to four hours before serving. Toss with a little more olive oil, vinegar and salt if needed just before serving.

Source: BriarPatch Food Co-op

“Caprese salads can really make a grand entrance on the table. The ingredients speak for themselves,” said Marketing Manager Rebecca Torpie.
Provided photo


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