Collaborative Tomatoes

First Ripe Tomatoes

First Ripe Tomatoes

The weeks of drought, here in Northern California, have had surprisingly little effect on our tomatoes. A plant fruiting famous for its dislike of over-watering–as well as its love of heat–tomatoes of all shape and size have been displayed proudly in stores and farmer’s market stalls, sold almost as quickly as they alight on the shelves and crates.

Fora small-time urban grower just having a dozen plants can yield more tomatoes than one knows what to do with. The average freezer can only hold so much marinara sauce containers and not many folks posses a dehydrator, let alone the wherewithal to properly dry the juicy, plump rounds to gummy perfection. Nothing quite beats a garden-picked, sun-ripened heirloom tomato on the table, sliced and sprinkled with salt & pepper, bit its charms lessen as the weeks go by. The famous pairing of such with slices of fresh mozzarella and dribbles of pesto have made their appearance of our table, but the price of cheese makes it a rare treat.

The price of meat likewise being high, we began searching for a go-to meal idea that would make the most of the ripe veg of our garden as well as highlight the beauty of our tomatoes to the fullest extent. We found one by accident, or rather by collaborative effort, by making a mixture of Greek, Italian and Israeli summer salads, hitting upon a deceptively simple recipe that easily fills a wrap or tortilla… and fills one with fresh food and a sense of well-being, both. A low-fat-yet-delicious combination of vegetables herbs and the all-important fresh tomato makes this meal fit for lunches or family dinners alike. Enjoy.

‘Mediterranean’ Salad Wraps: (feeds 6)

  • 8-10 large truly vine-ripened tomatoes washed & cut into 1/2″ chunks, or small wedges
  • 1 English/hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 can extra large Black or Kalmata olives (we use California olives), cut in half
  • 4 scallions (green onions) chopped
  • 1 8-oz. package of feta (or Fontina, or Casero) cheese, crumbled
  • 2 TBLS. good-quality EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 6 TBLS. Good-quality Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 TBLS. Caesar dressing (we use Newman’s)
  • Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Warm the wraps/tortillas in the oven, on Low. In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, EVOO, Balsamic & dressing and pepper to taste. (No extra salt is needed in this recipe we’ve found, due to the feta & olives having plenty of their own). After a minute, mix in the onions, cucumber and olives. Set the table. Mix in the feta cheese and serve immediately.

Note: This is a dish that should be consumed the same day; it does not refrigerate or freeze well. While you can add spinach, sprouts or lettuce to your wraps, the charm of these particular ingredients lays in their simplicity and the juicy, messy wraps that ensue. The warmed wrap/tortillas not only contains the salad but gives it a solid ground from which to spring. Our children have never left a bit of this salad behind on their plates. It also can be served atop toasted fresh-baked bread or focaccia.

slender floral divider

L. R. Styles is a organic urban gardener and writer for Belator Books

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