It’s summer and peak tomato season is nearing, which means one thing for sure: I am soon to be entirely in the grip of Tomato Madness.
I wait all year for tomato season to roll around, abstaining from buying those cardboard-like, sprayed-with-ethylene-gas-to-make-them-turn-orange facsimile tomatoes through the cold months, biding my time until the (swoon!) heirlooms show up in the farmers’ markets. (I grow a paltry number of them at home but am not yet proficient enough at it to satisfy my appetite for the fruit.) They’re beautiful, aromatic, colored all the way through, and the taste? Unlike any tomato you’ll find in a grocery store.
The inevitable result of this is a tomato binge in the summertime. One weekend last August, our trip to the market yielded just such a thing: in addition to the 2-3-ish pounds I already had in the house, I came home with 6 pounds of my all-time favorite Black Krims (gazpacho, anyone?), along with a whopping 1.75-pound Gold Medal tomato that my favorite farmer gifted me when he saw me going crazy on the Krims (for they are his favorite too), figuring that he’d never be able to sell it because it was so huge. Seriously, the thing was as big as The Wee Baby Om-Nom Sauce’s head.
(Oh, and speaking of Krims: I had a plant in my back yard last summer and I got so excited at one point because I had two beautiful tomatoes on it that were just a few days away from ripeness. I went out there one morning and they were gone. I’m not going to blame the squirrels, or the bunnies, or the birds, or the odd deer that comes through the neighborhood, because I suspect that the culprit was THE DOG. She developed a taste for tomatoes when I was growing black cherry tomatoes in Tucson and I haven’t been able to break her of it: I catch her with MY harvest now and then. And this year? A bunny came through and ate two of my five tomato plants — that’s right, not tomatoes, but the plants. But I digress.)
I came home and immediately busied myself with making my favorite soup (because if cherry-pie-making-day is Mr Om-Nom Sauce’s favorite day of summer, then surely mine is the one when I make gazpacho), but upon finishing that, I had to face the (1.75-pound) elephant in the room: what to do with the Gold Medal? I sifted through lots of ideas in my head and finally settled upon re-making a tomato-watermelon salad I had thrown together on a whim earlier that week for a cook-out. Because after the guests had left, Mister Om-Nom Sauce said “I’m going to clean up the kitchen” and I responded with, “Ok, Imma gonna stand here and eat this salad,” and predictably, the left-overs disappeared with breakfast. So clearly, more of this (delicious, healthy, refreshing, nutrient-packed) salad needed to be made. And if you have any ginormous tomatoes on hand that you don’t know what to do with, send them my way, because that is a problem that I love to have.
Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Adapted from an Epicurious recipe
You will need:
- 1.75 pounds heirloom tomatoes, preferably a sweet variety(ies), to yield about 1 quart when prepared
- A little less than 1.75 pounds watermelon, to yield about 1 quart when prepared
- 1 large cucumber (about 1 pound)
- 2 to 3 avocados
- A handful of fresh basil and/or mint, julienned or minced
- 2-3 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and champagne vinegar
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Chop the tomatoes and watermelon into approximately 3/4″-inch chunks, discarding the watermelon rinds. Peel and seed the cucumber (if desired) and cut it into 3/4″-inch chunks too. Combine in a large bowl.
- Halve the seed the avocado, and cut it into slightly smaller chunks than the other ingredients. Add it to the bowl, and add the herbs, olive oil, champagne vinegar, and salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and let sit, covered, for an hour or two to let the flavors blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature, and use within three days.
- To add a bit of tang, toss in a handful of crumbled feta.