I have a confession.
I’ve never really been a fan of tomatoes.
Is that a bad thing to say?
And not just tomatoes, I’m just not a huge fan of anything that contains tomatoes either. Be it marinara sauce, ketchup, tomatoes on my salad, sliced tomatoes in a caprese, nada.
It’s just…well…how do I put this…they taste like pink sponges of water to me. There, I said it.
This is only because the tomatoes that I’ve grown accustomed to eating here in the US have been mass-produced to the point where they are no longer tomatoes, but mere vestiges of them.
Italy definitely taught me a thing or two about what a real tomato should look and taste like. Tomatoes should be bright red and sweet and juicy. Not tasteless, and spongelike.
Well, all my previous notions of what a tomato has become in a consumerist society were all shattered when I discovered dry farmed tomatoes.
These things are like nature’s candy. Rich in flavor and intensely sweet, colored in a deep vibrant red.
So what are dry-farmed tomatoes?
Well, they are tomatoes that have never been watered. Never! So what you get is a tomato that has been so highly concentrated in flavor and sweetness, with no excess water to dilute the flavor.
How does the plant survive?
Because the tomato plant has no access to water, dry-farming forces the it to grow its roots deep down further into the soil in order to access moisture. This technique has been popularized because farmers can conserve water. A popular varietal of tomato that is well-suited to dry-farming is the Early Girl Tomatoes, which are quite abundant within the Bay Area.
If all tomatoes tasted like these, I definitely wouldn’t be such a hater. But unfortunately, I’ll have to continue my boycott when tomato season ends soon. Which is why I brought 2 pounds home with me.
Here’s what my week looked like with dry-farmed tomatoes:
Being that tomatoes are the main star of this classic dish, using dry-farmed tomatoes is the perfect way to amp up the flavor. I layered each slice with some mozzarella and a basil leaf. Then I drizzled everything with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
Simple. Clean. Fresh.
Caprese Salad Sandwich
Placed between two slices of toasted sourdough bread. An easy and light lunch for the office.
I whipped up some basil-mint pesto pasta with some sweet end of summer zucchini…and yes tomatoes. In order to maintain the integrity of the flavor and texture of these tomatoes, I made sure not to actually cook them.
After sautéing my zucchini, I simply tossed my sliced tomatoes into the hot pan just until they were warmed through, with the heat on the stove turned off. No need to blister these precious gems.
Made an impromptu salad while working from home consisting of basically everything I had in my fridge.
Butter lettuce, kale, sliced red onions, roasted cauliflower and fingerling potatoes, and toasted almonds tossed in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The tomatoes added just the right amount of sweetness to the mix.
…now I have all but one last tomato left…which I will quickly devour after writing this post.
Although the season is now over, I shall refuse to settle for mediocre tomatoes. From tomato-hater to tomato-snob, my discovery of dry-farmed tomatoes has transformed me.
Until next year my sweet juicy red cherubs, I shall wait for you.