Weekly Top 5: Ways To Fully Celebrate Tomato Season
My husband texted me on Tuesday when he was on his way to the Farmers Market to pick up some bread and provisions for dinner: “Do you want anything in particular from the farmers market?” he asked me. “I’m heading that way.”
“TOMATOOOOOOES!” was my response, with exactly that many capitalized letter O’s. (Six of them, if you didn’t care to go back and count).
It’s Tomato Season. With a capital T and a capital S, it is hands down my favorite food season of the year. (If we’re talking season seasons though, I’d choose Fall. But maybe you don’t give a hoot. Back to the ‘maters.) During this relatively brief window of time that presents itself right as we enter the deep swells of summer, I do my best to gorge myself on as many of those ruby red, golden orange, deep purple, and vibrant yellow jewels that I can find. I take photos of them in excess, convinced that the few who follow me on Instagram will be wowed by yet another tomato toast, or tomato salad, or striped and squiggled, whole round beauty just sitting atop my counter. I fall asleep at night dreaming of slicing my tomatoes, easy and steady with a serrated knife, and then fanning them across my cutting board, completely saturated with juice and seeds. Then, I’ll come home from work the following day and do exactly that, feeding them to myself like a baby bird, the slice dangling above my face and the juice flicking onto my chin and cheeks as I lower it into my mouth. That right there? That is what tomato season is all about: enjoying every second of it.
Such a season should not be squandered! Akin to the celebratory nature of Christmastime, tomatoes, too should be glorified and honored, so that when it’s all said and done, we’re left fully and completely fulfilled — in-turn utterly turned off by those mealy, off-season, hothouse imitations.
To help you celebrate Tomato Season to its fullest, I’m offering my Top Five Ways to Celebrate The Tomato:
1. Tomato Art Festival
One of the most celebrated weekends of the summer, East Nashville’s Tomato Art Festival is presenting its 16th annual bash THIS WEEKEND! The festivities begin tonight at 6pm, with the Tomato Art Kick Off Concert, and the activities last well into Saturday evening. The slew of events — which range from a Tomato 5k Saturday morning at 7:30, to a Tomato Haiku contest later that afternoon — include a wide array of fun and games that are sure to make a tomato-lover out of you. Don’t miss the vendor area, where tomato-inspired art, local craftspeople, delicious food, and drink a’plenty will all be available to further your celebrations. As their website claims, the tomato is a uniter; not a divider. So gather your friends and family to unite in Five Points this weekend to celebrate the Almighty Tomato!
2. Support Local, Tennessee-Grown Tomatoes
Ok, I’m guilty. I’m guilty of driving all the way across town from my East Nashville home to the depths of Green Hills just to go to Whole Foods and buy a bag full of their pristine produce. But only when I have to. When it’s tomato season? No way. I get them locally. After circling the farmers market a time or two to scope out the stalls and decide which one holds the apple(s) of my eye, I fill my canvas bag with all the heavy, just-shy-of-bruisable, deeply colored tomatoes that I can carry. Not only do locally-grown tomatoes taste so much better — juicier, sweeter, sunnier, earthier, and just overall more tomato-y — but it also feels great to directly support the very farmers who put so much work into creating such a beauty.
3. Can It!
Peak summer tomatoes are pretty much impossible to replicate in the depths of winter. Especially if you want those *extra* delicious Tennessee tomatoes. But you can enjoy the fruits of the summer all year round if you do a little planning ahead. Use your latest farmers market haul to make a big match of tomato sauce, using onions, garlic, and basil — all of which are also readily available right now — or mix your tomatoes together with some spicy peppers to make a delicious homemade salsa. Can them up in your favorite Ball Mason jars and tuck them in the pantry for later use, or better yet, give them as gifts to your sincerely appreciative friends.
4. Make ‘Em Sweet
The fruit vs. vegetable debate has long been a hotly-contested one for our friend, Lady Tomato, but who says she needs to be relegated to one category over another? The savory route may seem more obvious, but these summer sweethearts can really surprise you when turned into something like a dessert. Blend your tomatoes into a popsicle, whizzed together with watermelon and a bit of lemon juice for a cool and sweet tomato-y treat. Put them on the heat with a bit of sugar and pectin, and watch as they slowly but surely turn into a tomato jam. Heck! I think this savory tomato sorbet sounds like a nice way to meet in the middle.
5. Eat As Many As You Possibly Can
Whatever you do…do not, under any circumstances, for any reason sleep on tomato season. Use it to its complete and utter fullness. Fill up your grocery tote, cover your kitchen counter, and most importantly stuff your belly completely full of the summer bounty. It’s the only real way to celebrate. Bon appetit!