Top four tomato favorites (plus a bonus!) 7/23/2020

Quick things:

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  • TOMATOES TOMATOES TOMATOES(Repetitive repetition. Can you tell what I’m excited about?)
  • Peppers are filling in: New Mexico green chilies, shishitos, chilacas, jalapenos, Hungarian wax and green bells.
  • New bread debut from McGrath’s Bakehouse: Cheesy Dill Onion. *swoon*
  • Congratulations to Kate, the winner of this week’s order feedback drawing and a $10 R&R gift card! As always, many thanks to all of you who have responded to the slips in your bags — we <3 feedback and we <3 you!

Scroll down for the full list of what we’ll have this week! Check out the website for everything we’ve got right now!

Bonus fave! Pa amb tomaquet, or “bread with tomato”. Rub a garlic clove on a crusty piece of bread (McGrath’s baguettes are great for this!), using the toasted surface of the bread to almost grate the garlic. Then do the same with the cut half of tomato. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt. Eat.

Tomato sandwiches. Caprese salads. Charred cherry tomatoes, their juice bursting into my mouth. I want to eat them every way, every day. And then I’ll go without for the rest of the year.

I always prize the quality and flavor of fresh local food, but this is probably true of nothing more than it is of tomatoes. I’m not an “I hate tomatoes” person (though I’m related to some of those people), but if I get a burger at a restaurant, I always order it with no tomato. In my pre-Radish & Rye days, I would sometimes buy grape tomatoes for the purposes of making my favorite pasta salad (calling it “pasta salad” evokes something so other than what it is…but I don’t know what else to call it!), but I would almost never buy a larger tomato from the grocery store — not on principle, just that I never enjoyed them very much. It never felt worth it.

I’m also not one of those people who had some kind of tomato revelation upon eating a good one for the first time. I think my parents mostly feel the same way I do, and so we just didn’t have bad tomatoes in the house growing up. If I had any realization, it was that most tomatoes…sucked. I just never really had that inflicted on me. So these days, except for the tomatoes we can or freeze, I really don’t eat tomatoes if they aren’t available from our farmers.

But now they are! The quantities are still not enormous, but they’re in stock on the site now, so don’t wait! In no particular order, my tomato faves with a little more detail (you probably know this already):

  1. Caprese salad. That’s CapoMozz cut into slices, torn basil leaves, thick cut slices of heirloom tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, showered with black pepper, and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. It’s a classic, and it’s the perfect no-cook summer meal.
  2. Tomato sandwich. Preferably on McGrath’s Dill Onion, or Cheesy Dill Onion, or Cheesy Peppercorn, or Sesame Original, or Original. A good slather of mayo. Again with the black pepper and the flaky sea salt. That’s it. Bonus: Do as we did on Wednesday evening and serve with a side of blistered shishito peppers tossed with olive oil and salt. This is a newsletter about tomatoes, but I could probably write an entire missive on my love for shishitos. They way they smell! They way they taste! The way they smell! (And for what it’s worth, I didn’t get a single hot one last night, which is just fine with me.)
  3. Blistered cherry tomatoes. Hot pan. Little bit of olive oil. Toss the little guys in and let them char. Prick the skins with a fork first if you don’t want to risk a tomato explosion. Do with the red grape tomatoes or the sungolds. Sprinkle ’em with salt. Serve on the side of anything (toast, sausage, pork chops, chicken thighs, eggs, canned tuna), or toss with pasta and more olive oil, maybe a little parsley or basil; add some feta or shower with Royer Mountain or tear up some CapoMozz. It takes like five minutes, and I’m always amazed at how good it is.
  4. Epicurious’s Orzo with Feta and Cherry Tomatoes. Sorry if you’ve heard this one before (all of these, I know!), but it’s my go-to summer potluck dish, and while this summer might not include any potlucks, I intend to make it at least once anyway. Probably on a grilling night, heaped next to some chicken thighs and grilled zucchini planks. A bottle of rose, I think. If it didn’t look so much like rain tonight — I know what I’d be doing. (FWIW, I usually make this with grape tomatoes, mostly because I think they’re a nice size when cut in half lengthwise, and also because sometimes I think cherry tomatoes make this a little too soupy. If you go with the grape tomatoes, you might want to increase the vinegar and olive oil.)
  5. Like candy. Sungolds, specifically. A bowl on the counter. Pop one in my mouth every time I walk by. Can’t ask for a healthier snack!

I hate to sound like a broken record, going through the same things every summer, or heck, maybe even every newsletter of the summer, but….TOMATOES. Here’s how I justify it: there are lots of things that are in season for briefer periods but are a little more specialized — like asparagus — and I want to eat a LOT of them while they’re around, but I wouldn’t necessarily eat them with the same frequency if they were around all year. Then there are things like, say, carrots, which are around for a pretty significant part of the year — nearly all of it, really — and are a solid workhorse of a vegetable. A staple. They’re great, but I don’t get so excited about them, because I almost never have to do without them. Or peppers, which have a similar season to tomatoes, and which I really love, but I’ll probably only use them as the foundation of a meal only a few times over the season — they’re a side or an accent, but rarely the main event. But TOMATOES — they’re a seasonal treat, but they’re super versatile, and they’re worth building a meal around. I can’t help but rave!


P.S. Speaking of building a meal around peppers: last summer Dusty did a round of smoking/roasting chilaca peppers on the grill, then pureed it with some vinegar and salt and — at a later date — slathered the mixture on some chicken. Everyone who got to partake is still raving about that one, so I think Dusty’s soon going to be under pressure to recreate it. If you’ve got a way to smoke peppers, I highly recommend trying your hand at it, too.

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