Although commonly associated with Italian food, tomatoes were originally cultivated by South and Central Americans as far back as 500 B.C.. When they reached Europe in the 16th century, Italians initially grew them as ornamentals due to their dubious association with the poisonous nightshade family. Today the resurgence of heirloom varieties has brought real tomato flavor back to the local marketplace.
Tomato Varieties and Seasons
Tomatoes are a summertime staple, but in Virginia they can grow late into the fall and even beyond with season extension tools and techniques. We grow a combination of heirloom and hybrid varieties chosen for production, beauty, and most of all flavor. This year’s offerings: Sun Gold (a super-sweet cherry), Green Zebra (tangy salad tomato), Black Prince (Siberian-native, garnet heirloom), and Rutgers (juicing, canning, or fresh red heirloom).
Quick Tomato Recipes
always wash produce before eating
Tomato and Olive Salad
On a platter, arrange 2 lb of sliced plum tomatoes with 1/4 c mixed olives. Slowly pour 2 Tbsp olive oil and top with zest of 1 lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
Toss 4 lb plum tomatoes with 3 sprigs of thyme or (other herbs on hand), 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 45 min. Serve as a side dish, or allow to cool and roughly chop for the base of a sauce or soup.
In a bowl combine: 2-3 diced plum tomatoes, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 chopped red onion, 6 sprigs chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice and salt to taste.