Sometimes, the government bodies that approve food holidays are way out of whack. Fresh Tomato Day is April 6th. National Tomato Day is June 1st. October is National Tomato Month.
In California and Florida, the two states that grow the most tomatoes, you can probably get a fresh tomato in April and most certainly in June. But people in the majority of the U.S. will have to make do with cherry tomatoes or less flavorful locals or imports until the peak summer tomatoes arrive.
Everyone knows that the most lush, juicy, locally-grown and freshly-picked tomatoes are available nationwide in August. So why promote tomatoes when the best ones are out of season?*
Thus, for the first time, THE NIBBLE is declaring its own food holiday. For us, August is National Tomato Month!
Whatever the time of day, there’s something delicious to be made with fresh tomatoes—even cocktails.
There are lots of recipes that do well with canned tomatoes. Don’t waste pricey fresh tomatoes on them. Instead, go for uncooked or lightly cooked recipes, where the fresh tomato taste sings.
Our summertime favorite is a simple combination of heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (a Caprese salad with chèvre instead of mozzarella).
Tomato crostini, with both red and yellow tomatoes. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Gaea Olive Oil.
But this Saturday, we’re going whole hog (whole tomato?) with tomatoes in every dish of every meal. We put together this recipe list, and will decide exactly what to make on the big day. We know that a tomato tart will be on the list.
FRESH TOMATOES FOR BREAKFAST
Diced and marinated fresh tomato with plain yogurt and/or cottage cheese (add fresh dill or basil)
Omelet with diced fresh tomato, herbs and green onions
Poached eggs on toast with sliced tomatoes, or on a thick slice of tomato instead of toast
Shakshouka, spicy poached and baked eggs (shakshouka recipe)
BLT, with a luscious T
Grilled cheese with a big slice of tomato and fresh basil (try grilled mozzarella, tomato and basil—a grilled Caprese; if you don’t like basil, try arugula)
Pasta salad with diced fresh tomatoes
Pizza (top the sauce and mozzarella with sliced tomato) or flatbread topping
Sliced egg and tomato sandwich
Sliced on a burger (try one slice above the burger and one below)
With assorted cheeses and baguette slices
Sandwich or salad with fried eggplant and tomato slices and provolone or other favorite cheese
Tomato sandwich: sliced tomatoes, arugula or watercress, sprouts, sweet onion and any other veggies you like with flavored mayonnaise or compound butter, on good bread (we also toss on some capers and fresh-cracked black pepper
FRESH TOMATOES FOR LUNCH
Caprese salad or stack (stack the ingredients into a small tower)
Gazpacho or hot tomato soup
Multicolor heirloom tomato salad with vinaigrette (we pair wedges cut from larger tomatoes with halved cherry tomatoes for a nice visual)
Tomato, watermelon and feta salad with with basil mint
Tomato, watermelon and peach salad with crumbled cheese (basil or mint also welcome)
FRESH TOMATOES WITH SOUP & SALAD
Fresh tomatoes and peaches, grilled with cheese. Photo courtesy Eat Wisconsin Cheese.
FRESH TOMATOES IN FIRST COURSES, SIDE DISHES
Broiled or roasted tomatoes with blue cheese, chèvre or feta
Tomato basil garlic butter (compound butter) for bread spread and cooking (it’s very freezable)
Fresh raw corn and tomato salad with herbs
Fried green tomatoes: they’re what to do with tomatoes that fail to ripen before the first frost
Marinated tomatoes and fresh herbs, as a side or as a first course in an avocado half
Panzanella, summer bread and tomato salad (panzanella recipe)
Salsa—see how much better it tastes with great tomatoes
Tomato crostini or bruschetta (recipe below)
Tomato juice, seasoned for drinking or spiced for Bloody Marys
Tomato-stuffed endive leaves
Tomato tart/tartlet or galette with tomato and cheese; tomato, onion, eggplant and other summer vegetables like zucchini; or Greek style with feta and black olives
FRESH TOMATOES FOR DINNER & DESSERT
Diced tomato garnish on mac and cheese, rice or grains
Fresh (uncooked) tomato sauce for pasta (you can also cook fresh tomatoes into a sauce)
Pasta with diced heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh herbs
Dessert: strong cheeses with fresh tomatoes and crusty bread
Dessert: tomato ice cream or sorbet (tomato ice cream recipes)
RECIPE: SUMMER BRUSCHETTA OR CROSTINI (PHOTO AT TOP OF PAGE)
Bruschetta and crostini are popular hors d’oeuvres that are easy to make. They also can be served as a first course or a light meal, with salad and/or soup.
The difference between them is the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting. Bruschetta is made from a loaf of bread that’s three or four inches in diameter; the bread is then grilled. Crostini are cut from a loaf about two inches in diameter and toasted rather than grilled.
Can you toast a larger slice and grill a smaller one? Go for it!
Optional: fresh goat cheese
Heirloom tomatoes, yellow and red
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground pepper
1. CUT the tomatoes into triangular pieces (see photo at top of page) and place in a bowl. Chiffonade the basil leaves and add to the tomatoes. Season lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus salt to taste.
2. SPREAD the goat cheese on plain or lightly toasted baguette slices. If not using cheese, brush the slices lightly with olive oil. Top with the dressed tomatoes and basil. Finish with a grind of fresh pepper.
*The answer: This happens with quite a few fresh foods. Companies and trade associations are eager to get publicity for their products and don’t want to wait for an appropriate month. The government officials who approve the holiday, from local to federal, just rubber-stamp the petition. Sometimes, producers especially want publicity in the off season when their products don’t sell well. That’s why June is National Turkey Month and February 6th is National Frozen Yogurt Day. These two are no big deal because you can get a good turkey or frozen yogurt anytime. But apricots are a summer fruit, so why is January 9th National Apricot Day? Why is February Berry Fresh Month—and so on, and so on? When we began THE NIBBLE in 2004, the concept was to match our content not just to American holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) but to the hundreds of officially sanctioned daily/monthly food holidays. We also chose to promote food seasonally. But on an out-of-season holiday like National Apricot Day, all we can promote are apricot jam and apricot nectar!