A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a friend of mine who is a cook at restaurant here in Chicago that specializes in locally sourced foods. Over a couple of BLTs, we talked about how fantastic August tomatoes are, and how unfortunate it is that they don’t stick around for longer.
As summer steams its way into fall, and before we’re back to white crunchy ‘tomatoes’ from the other side of the world, I thought I’d share a great tomato recipe from one of our classes and take a look where to find the best ones before they’re gone.
First we’ll start with the recipe, a really nice one, that comes from our Farmer’s Market Fare demonstration class.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Market Cheese and Basil
Yield: 4-6 servings
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 40 minutes
4 beautiful heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste
1 cup fresh market cheese such as goat or feta, crumbled
1. Gently mix together the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Allow for the flavors to blend for about 30 minutes.
2. Serve on a platter topped with the crumbled cheese.
This is a really simple recipe that showcases fresh tomatoes. Even more than a farmer’s market, the best place to find the ingredients for this recipe would be your garden - tomatoes and basil are fairly easy to grow (even in the city).
Of course, not many of us grow the multiple varieties of colorful heirloom tomatoes that would really make this recipe shine. So hit the markets and while you’re there, pick up some great fresh cheese. Most farmers markets here in town will have a dairy vendor. I’ve seen them at markets in Lincoln Square, Andersonville, Green City and Daley Plaza.
For more information on farmers markets here in Chicago, click here.