2016-08-04 / From The Garden

Tasty, Tangy Tomatoes

By Cynthia Gibson

The Lemon Boy yellow tomato is a globe-shaped fruit with a tangy, sweet and mild flavor. The Lemon Boy yellow tomato is a globe-shaped fruit with a tangy, sweet and mild flavor. This is the week many wait for all winter long, when the larger tomatoes begin to ripen. Due to the craze of planting heirloom tomatoes, we have them in every shape, size, and color.

The basics of a masterpiece tomato sandwich include not only the tomato, but also the bread. We are lucky to live on an island with many artisan food purveyors.

Provençale Bakery has great breads, as does Pasta Beach restaurant. Olga’s Cup and Saucer at the farmers’ market sells delicious homemade breads (as well as homemade pizza crust). These blank canvases of bread are ready for your colorful tomatoes.

To make a simple, yet fabulous, tomato sandwich, first select large-sized red, yellow, and green tomatoes. The green varieties are meant to be ripe (not an under-developed red tomato). Green Zebra is a great breed to look for, along with any of the pinkish-red Brandywines. In the yellow tomato category, try Lemon Boy or Yellow Brandywine.

A delicious, tangy salad tomato, the Green Zebra is a chartreuse color with deep lime-green stripes. A delicious, tangy salad tomato, the Green Zebra is a chartreuse color with deep lime-green stripes. Selecting your bread comes next. Loaves of ciabatta bread are excellent, as are all peasant breads. Toast to bring out the flavor and brush with extra virgin olive oil.

Place the tomatoes so they overlap in a decorative fashion, and top with a few fresh-snipped chives. Salt and pepper to taste for one mighty fine fresh tomato sandwich.

Should you care to turn this tomato sandwich into luncheon fare, add either a chilled cucumber or tzatziki sauce. The cucumber sauce has a base of creamed cheese and sour cream, while the base of the traditional green tzatziki sauce is yogurt. If in a hurry, you can now buy it in the deli at Stop and Shop.

For a twist to the all-American grilled cheese sandwich, add a sliced garden tomato for a true winner. The sweetness of the tomato along with its natural acidity is just so good.

Perhaps simplicity is your style and the choice is a squishy white bread. The one I like to buy is Wonder Bread, slathered in mayonnaise, with sliced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and voila! This is the perfect summer sandwich for many. If you belong to a bridge group, take a plate of these along and you will be the star of the day!

Regardless of how you serve your fresh tomatoes, this is the time of year they are primo. The outdoor markets on Wednesday in Newport and Saturday in Middletown are the best places to buy some beauties if you don’t grow your own. A ripe tomato will give a bit if you squeeze it gently with your fingers. Tomatoes that are a bit harder will ripen on your kitchen counter within two days.

But after two days you will be shooing away fruit flies, so eat them when they are perfect and enjoy this classic summer treat.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport.

Garden Tips for Tomatoes

Pruning tomatoes encourages more growth of leaves and flowers, thus more tomatoes! However, you do not have to prune at all if you are happy with the plants' current production. Suckers are the tiny leaves that start to grow between the stem and the branch. Those little leaves can steal water and nutrients from the plant, so it’s best to get rid of them. A quick pinch of the leaf's stem with your fingers will do the trick. About this time of the summer I also lop off about five inches of my tomato plants to encourage new growth and new flowers. Putting this small amount of effort into a plant that produces fruit to make the best homemade spaghetti sauce in the world is worth it.

Cucumber Sauce

Makes six

One 8 oz. package of cream
cheese at room temperature
Two cucumbers, peeled, seeded
and diced
1/4 cup onion diced, (red onion
is optional, but pretty)
2 tsp. fresh dill, finely
2 tsp. of fresh mint, finely
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/ 2 tsp. sea salt
1/ 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Use approximately 1/4 cup of sauce per slice of toasted bread. The sauce can be made a day or two in advance, then use it all. This sauce is a perfect complement to your fresh tomatoes.

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