The tragically short season for heirloom tomatoes is upon us. I delightedly picked up a few pounds of these inbred fruits at my local farmer’s market. I actually had never tried heirloom tomatoes before, so I decided to do a little research as to why foodies, locavores, and naturalists have all deemed the heirloom tomato superior to its much cuter cousin, the regular tomato.
Heirloom tomatoes lack a genetic mutation that makes a round, uniformly-colored fruit. However, the genetically-mutated “pretty” tomato has lower levels of carotenoids and a decreased ability to make sugar within the fruit. That means that it’s less healthy AND less tasty! The “food industry” started favoring the mutant in the 1940s. Sounds a lot like the waxy, unappealing red delicious apple, right? It kind of makes sense that the food industry wanted the more dull tomato, as the heirloom tomato not only has a short season, but they are prone to bruising and have an exceedingly short shelf life.
I picked up a variety of these non-mutant tomatoes–“brandywine,” “grandma’s pick,” “Indian Cherokee Red” and a few others. The more I learn about the heirloom tomato, the more beautiful they become. I wanted to enjoy these tomatoes in all of their splendor, so I settled on a simple ricotta toast. I picked up a loaf of multi-grain bread at the farmer’s market as well, which made the perfect companion for my tomatoes.
- 2 heirloom tomatoes
- 4 pieces of high-quality, fresh multi-grain bread
- ¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 16 basil leaves
- olive oil
- Thinly slice the tomatoes. Place the sliced tomatoes in a colander and let them drain for 15 minutes. Remove them from the colander and lightly sprinkle with salt.
- Toast the bread, then spread a layer of fresh ricotta cheese on top. Add the basil leaves.
- Layer the sliced tomato on the ricotta toast.
- Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper. Add salt to taste. Garnish with any additional basil leaves.