Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Toe-may-toe, Toe-mah-toe

"You like potato and I like potahto, 
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, 

Let's call the whole thing off"
--Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for the 1937 film Shall We Dance

I am an impatient gardener. Forget starting my tomatoes from seed. I can't stand the suspense of waiting for them to sprout. My seedlings come from the greenhouse. After those seedlings are planted, there is this a.g.o.n.i.z.i.n.g.l.y long period of time when it seems the plants Don't.Do.Anything. Then, they start to grow and grow and grow and grow, but the fruit is meager. When finally the fruit sets on, I want it to ripen NOW. But, it doesn't. And, this impatient gardener is forced to wait and wait and wait. Until FINALLY, I get to savor a beautifully ripe, juicy, luscious tomato from MY garden. Bliss. 

Somewhere during that whole ordeal of waiting for that perfect, first, ripe tomato, I am usually tempted to call the whole thing off. A late frost, a hard and brutal rain, a hail storm, some disgusting bugs, just the maddeningly slow growing process...they all make me want to just rip out the garden and say it isn't worth the hassle. But, those thoughts only last for a second. The true bliss of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes IS worth the hassle of my impatient soul. Every succulent, red (and yellow and orange) bite.


(this isn't so much a recipe as just an idea; play with it; make it your own)
enjoy those hard-earned tomatoes

tomatoes - beef steak; heirloom; cherry; yellow pear; whatever
fresh mozzarella - regular; bocconcini; pearls; whatever
fresh basil
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
balsamic vinegar

Got everything? Now, the fun begins...
If you are using regular tomatoes, slice into 1/4-inch slices.
If you are using cherry tomatoes, leave whole or halve (your preference).
If you are using regular fresh mozzarella, slice into 1/4-inch slices.
If you are using pearls or bocconcini, simply drain.
Separate the basil leaves.
For regular tomatoes and regular fresh mozzarella, layer alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella on a platter. Tuck a basil leaf between each. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Serve.
For smaller cherry tomatoes and pearls or bocconcini of mozzarella, toss in a bowl with torn basil leaves. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Serve.

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