Not even I have been able to kill the tomato plant that is thriving on my patio. God clearly works in mysterious ways. I planted what was on offer at Home Depot months ago (shame on me but I cannot remember the variety) and now I am flooded with tiny, juicy and incredibly sweet cherry tomatoes that keep on coming faster that I can pick them.
As you all know how hard it is to find tomatoes that actually taste the way nature intended, I am selfishly not sharing any of this bounty, ramming tomato dish after tomato dish down my throat a few times a week.
What is it they say about not messing with a perfectly good tomato? True. These little jewels are like candy and perfectly good on their own – still, I was getting tired of the same variation on a salad so I resorted to a tried and true dish I used to make in college and to the suggestion of my friend L, who recently shared with me a simple appetizer that works very well with good cherry tomatoes.
Tomatoes are at their ripest just about now so stock up at your local farmer’s market. You want tomatoes that haven’t travelled far as, part of the tasteless tomato problem, is that they get picked off the vine when they are not yet ripe and are not given the chance to develop their full flavor.
For a pasta dish, lightly mash small cherry or grape tomatoes with olive oil, thinly sliced basil, a smashed garlic clove (or small diced sweet onion), olive oil, salt and pepper. Let rest while you are cooking a short pasta such as shells, rotini etc. Dice some good quality mozzarella and, when the pasta is cooked, pour it in the bowl with the tomatoes, add the mozzarella and stir. You might want to remember to fish out the garlic clove.
As to the appetizer, drop the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Strain them and slide the skins right off. If the tomatoes are too small, you might want to briefly sautee them in a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, just heating them without breaking them. Buy some burrata or buffalo mozzarella, slice it and lay on a platter surrounded by the warm tomatoes. Drizzle with oil, salt and oregano. Dig in.