the heat is on

It has been a scorcher with punishing heat. One day, the only reason we got out of the pool, was to make lunch and then dinner.

When the temperature is climbing toward triple digits, salads are a reliable dinner staple. The summer produce is providing some picture-perfect vegetables and fruit. The tomatoes in our garden are a little behind schedule because of a rainy month in June.

What can you do to help the summer tomatoes catch up to the rest of the season after a soggy start? Help them along with a little aluminum foil. Spread some sheets of foil at the base of the plants to help the sunlight reflect back up to double the amount of sun. It will help with sun absorption, which is crucial to the tomato plant, to ripen and produce plump tomatoes.

Our tomatoes are racing to catch up to the rest of the growing season. But, the farmer’s market, that is less than 5 minutes away from us, has gorgeous Jersey tomatoes.

The more-orange-than-red colored tomatoes are ready to burst. They should be paired with just a few ingredients to enjoy their texture and juices.

One method for highlighting a fresh tomato is an adaptation of a classic steakhouse tomato salad. Slice some red onion wafer thin and marinate in red wine vinegar. We like to use a raspberry vinegar for another flavor note. This takes the edge off the aggressiveness of a raw onion and softens the crunch a bit.

The basil is getting bushier every day. Grab some leaves. In order to keep the basil growing at its best, always take the top leaves from the plant. It sends all of the growing energy back into the plant.

Slice the tomatoes and layer on a serving dish. If you don’t plan on serving immediately, hold off on sprinkling with Kosher salt. The salt draws out the delicate tomato juices. Salting too soon will yield sliced tomatoes sitting in a pool of juice. Salt when ready to serve to keep all the juices with the tomato slices.

For a flavor twist, splash a generous amount of Worcesteshire on the tomato slices. Layer the marinated onions and scatter with some chopped basil. The Worcesteshire adds a combination of flavors with some sweet molasses, garlic, and a zip of chili pepper.

We’re looking forward to our own tomatoes too. A tomato, in a dish for the dinner table, still warm from the afternoon sun, is a warm weather treat.

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