Our tomato plants (should I say, trees?) are absolutely loaded with tomatoes this year. We put in (4) plants each of Brandywines, and heirloom roma-style and chocolate cherry. But I have to confess – I have never been much of a tomato-eater. I like them cooked into things, or made into sauce, but aside from very, very thinly sliced on a BLT, I don’t really eat a lot of them.
These Brandywines have changed my mind, 100%. Our love for heirloom tomatoes actually began three years ago, on our honeymoon. My husband and I treated ourselves to a super-fancy, all-out dinner while in Sonoma Valley, CA. It so happened that in the area we were, they have this massive heirloom tomato festival every year, which had just taken place the week before our trip. As a result, the area was loaded with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and all the local restaurants had taken them and incorporated them into their menus.
One of the dishes my husband ordered that night was a blackened scallop, served on top of a grilled heirloom that had just a touch of salt on it. It looked intimidating to the non-tomato lover, and I wondered how he could just eat half a tomato like that. But he devoured all of them and swore they were the best tomatoes he had ever eaten. I made a note and now we finally have the space to indulge and try out some new tomato varieties.
Brandywine tomatoes are a popular heirloom variety, they produce large, beautiful tomatoes that have a lot of meat, and a rich, sweet flavor. I have never been one to enjoy large chunks of raw tomato, but I have to tell you – these tomatoes have changed my mind!
My husband made a quick salad this morning with a Brandywine and cucumber, rough chopped and tossed in a little Italian dressing. For dinner, I decide to expand on that, and made this lovely Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber salad, with some fresh avocado and a touch of minced jalapeno, for a little heat. It made a wonderful topping on some blackened fish, and even my one-year old daughter ate chunk after chunk of tomatoes and cucumber!
Now, even if you’re a hesitant tomato eater, like I was just hours before, you have to try this. The important thing is finding a good, quality tomato. If you aren’t growing them, look at local farmers’ markets, farm stands, etc., anywhere you can find a beautiful, organically grown heirloom variety that is going to have that true-tomato flavor. They are really amazing to eat!
This recipe makes about 1.5 cups, enough for two servings.
(2) Brandywine tomatoes (or other heirloom variety)
1/2 medium cucumber
1/2 small jalapeno
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (or more, if desired)
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cube up your tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado. You can make these as large or fine as you like.
- Mince the jalapeno. I suggest using the bottom half of the pepper, so you don’t have to worry about seeds. I just wanted a touch of heat in the salad. If you want to skip this, go ahead, or if you want a really spicy salad, mince the whole pepper!
- Add all ingredients to a bowl, and toss together gently. It’s important not to get too aggressive when mixing, so that you don’t start mashing the avocado up. You just want to mix everything enough to mix up the veggies and get them evenly coated in the balsamic.
This salad is refreshing, delicious and goes great with so many things. Use it as a topping for fish or chicken, add to salad greens, or serve with a toasty grilled cheese! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!