The Most Honorable Way To Eat a Jersey Tomato

Having just gotten back from Matt Hassett’s funeral I was hungry, and I needed something to jar me out of my depressed state. I couldn’t handle anything heavy as the weather is still pretty brutal, so Rachel cut up one of the big tomatoes we got from Ploch’s Farm in Clifton, picked a bunch of nice basil leaves from our garden and made us a nice Caprese Salad. Here’s how she does it:

Make only in the summer with vine ripened, preferably home grown, tomatoes! This can be made fresh, layering it on the serving plates, or do as I do and prepare it 30-60 minutes ahead, allowing the juices to develop.

1   Large Tomato
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella
1/3 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil (best quality)
    Fresh Basil leaves
    Crusty Bread (for service)

Take a big juicy home grown or farm stand, locally grown tomato (to be fair to those not in New Jersey). Frankly, this really isn’t worth doing with store bought tomatoes unless they are really ripe and in season. For one large tomato you’ll need one small (or half a large) ball of fresh mozzarella. Slice both into 1/4 inch slices. Pour some salt & grind some pepper into a small mise en place dish, taste the mozz. If it is salty, then use equal proportions of salt to pepper, if unsalted, use about 2:1 salt:pepper. You’ll need about 1/3 cup of best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and several sprigs of basil, fresh from your garden.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a tall container, I use a quart size deli/soup container. Add a small sprinkle of S&P and a basil leaf or two (tear the big ones, leave the small pretty ones whole) and lay on a slice of tomato. Sprinkle of s&p, drizzle of oil, basil, slice of mozz. Spinkle of s&p, oil, basil, tomato. Continue until you use everything up. If you have leftover oil, pour it on. Put an airtight lid on the container.

Allow to marinate while you get the rest of the meal together. Turn the container over occasionally. Serve, layering the tomatoes & mozz, pour on a little of the oil/juices, eat with a slice of crusty bread. You can sprinkle on a bit of vinegar at service, I prefer a mild one, like Sherry Vineger from Spain, or maybe a good red wine vinegar over Balsamic. Mmm, summer on a plate.

In my mind, there’s no more honorable way to treat a Jersey Tomato.

7 Responses to The Most Honorable Way To Eat a Jersey Tomato

  1. gifted gourmet says:

    That is one beautiful Caprese salad! Making me miss those Jersey tomatoes my aunt in Deal brought home in the summers when we went there on our vacations …the juice bursting forth as they were bitten .. red glorious tastes of the Jersey sun!

  2. kristin says:

    That is the only way to eat ANY tomato worth a damn!

  3. […] In any case, the heat wave was good for one thing, and thats growing garden produce. Our cucumber plants have been producing like crazy, and we’ve already got a few jars of pickles going in the fridge. The Jersey tomatoes have been absolutely fabulous — so good that we’re just using them for insalata caprese, sliced up and put on top of bagels with cream cheese, or eaten in very simple sweet onion, tomato and cucumber salads, as below. […]

  4. […] Besides Insalata Caprese another good way to honor an excellent tomato is the BLT sandwich. On Thursday I picked up the nicest, biggest Brandywine heirloom tomato from the Teaneck Farmers Market. Tonight, just before heading out to Rascal’s Comedy Club in Montclair, we made ourselves a big BLT (with bacon we bought at Kocher’s) on two big thick slices of toasted challah bread. […]

  5. Lisa says:

    Jersey tomatoes are the best and this is the BEST way to eat them.

  6. […] not requiring large tomatoes per se, insalata caprese (see August, 2006 post) is probably one of the best uses of summer tomatoes, period, if you’re not sandwich […]

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