I’m sad to say the first time I had a true heirloom tomato was only a month ago. I’d been hearing all of the buzz about them, but it wasn’t until my birthday dinner at Dressler that I finally had a chance to try a stack of heirloom slices with my halibut entree. So, is the hype true? Do heirloom tomatoes really put their standard supermarket brethren to shame? I say absolutely. Not only do they have a superior taste and texture, they look fabulous, with a variety of colors ranging from green with zebra-like stripes to deep purple.
There are hundreds of varieties, but they can all be defined by a few key factors: they aren’t genetically modified in any way, no hybrids, they are the result of open-pollination (natural pollination), and the seeds have been passed down for decades, some saying at least 50 years, while some define heirlooms at 100 years.
I picked up a pint of small heirlooms last weekend at the Union Square Greenmarket from Tim Stark’s stand, however the photos above are from this week’s late day remains from another stand. Recipe-wise, they can be used in all of the ways your standard tomato can, but I think any recipe that overpowers their unique flavors is kind of a waste. I like chopping them into 1/2″ by 1/2″ cubes, tossing with a bit of olive oil and small bits of basil, sprinkling with a pinch of salt, and serving alongside any meat or veggie entree that could use a kick of acidity.
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