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Enjoy vine-ripe tomatoes now

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:06AM



Plucked straight from the vine, a garden tomato ripened by the summer sun of August is one of the sweetest tastes of the season.

It needs no salt, no added seasoning. To stew it would be a crime. It is perfect in its vulnerable state of undress — a fruit of the gods.

Now, as the plump beauties are bursting from the backyard vines, the time comes to gobble them up before they rot away with antiquity.

A prized variety, the Super Sweet 100, is a hybrid renowned for its sugary flavor. These cherry-sized scarlet jewels grow in magnetic clusters, ripen at mid-August and propagate until the first killer frost.

So sweet are they that they rarely make it from garden to kitchen without first getting devoured. However, in the off chance there is a cup or two of this garden variety left in the kitchen, it is the ideal accompaniment for a cheesy medley of ricotta, parmesan, basil and oregano.

Some gourmands whip up this mixture, stuff it into the hollowed-out cavities of their prized Burpees and then bake them in the oven until the center is molten.

An avid tomato enthusiast, I prefer to avoid baking my garden’s pride and joy simply because it means having a slightly soft tomato. Part of the enjoyment from this fresh crop comes from the firm bite, that little bit of crunch — a huge difference from the soupy mess inside of the tomatoes sold at grocery stores.

But halved and plated together with just the right amount of cheese and herbs, this concoction makes a delicious cracker topper or side dish. The taste is clean and simple, yet so full of flavor.

Not only does this dish highlight the sweetness of your garden tomatoes, but it also allows you to pair them with the output from your herb garden.

A smattering of panko gives it crunch, while a drizzle of olive oil propels the dynamo that truly makes this a dish fresh with summer flavors.

Super Sweet 100s aren’t in your garden repertoire? No worries. The fruity flavors of any of your homespun crops will make this dish something special.

Ricotta and
Tomato Salad

2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or 4 tomatoes, quartered

1 cup of ricotta cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon oregano

Italian-style panko crumbs

Olive oil

Mix together ricotta, parmesan, basil and oregano together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in chopped tomatoes and sprinkle with panko crumbs. Serve as a side or on top of crackers or crusty bread. Drizzle with olive oil.



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