Thursday, August 12, 2010

Frightfully Delicious Tomato Salad

I reached into my CSA bag and dug through the piles of leaves, each of which emitted a different scent which stirred the corners of my forgotten memories. My hand brushed against something cool and smooth, and I pulled out a bright green cucumber. I dug a little deeper and pulled out something dry, with deep grooves. It was purple garlic. I reached in a final time. That's when I discovered the thing I have been waiting all season for. It was my biggest reason for signing up for this particular CSA. Heirloom tomatoes.

Fresh heirloom tomatoes are such a rare seasonal treat for me that it is hard to imagine that there was once a time when people considered them inedible, dangerous even. It was once believed that eating tomatoes would cause the body to fill up with oxalic acid, and result in immediate death. It is true that tomatoes contain small amounts of oxalic acid, but then again so do potatoes, peppers, and spinach.

Eating tomatoes today has such associations with health that it is hard to imagine that their was once a time when people believed that tomatoes caused cancer. There was a sort of mass "contempt prior to investigation" of tomatoes in America until the mid 1800's. It was then that a Colonel in Salem, NJ stood on the front steps of the courthouse in town and ate an entire bucket of tomatoes in front of 2000 spectators just to prove that it could be done. He surprised them all by not dying.

My excitement escalated as I pulled out the blood red, deep green, orange, and purple heirloom tomatoes from my CSA bag. I was certain that I would be able to get a picture that would be nothing short of impressive of today's salad, but then...

"ugh, those colors are scary!" Christina said, looking over my shoulder. "What are those?"

"Tomatoes" I replied, staring back at her in shock. Those who don't grocery shop will never know what a treat it is to have heirloom tomatoes appear in your kitchen without having to be weighed and priced in a checkout lane first. "Try one" I said, and I handed an orange slice of tomato over to her on my knife.

"it's so sweet" she said.
"I know, the orange ones have less acid in them, so they taste sweeter. The dark ones are more tart. The red ones, in my opinion, taste like tomato sauce." I said as I cut up the tomatoes and threw them in the salad. Christina stared down apprehensively at the drab colored plate in front of me.

"You'd better blog about the tomatoes. If people don't know what they are, they might get scared that you are cooking with rotten food." She said.

"Okay, good idea" I replied "I think I will."

Frightfully Delicious Tomato Salad
2 small cucumbers, sliced
4 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
1/2 fresh green pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese
mix together and serve.

Christina's vote: "A little fear in every bite"

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