Tag Archives: heirloom

Summer Salad of Fingerlings, Heirloom Tomatoes and String Beans

Summertime has always meant trips to the farmer’s market – from the dripingly ripe tomatoes to the sweetest ears of corn, I couldn’t help but swoon over access to ingredients as flavorful and delicious as these.  Despite my dependence on the convenience of grocery stores, shopping at the market was a reminder of the fact that we can all make a commitment to using the freshest ingredients possible.  Summertime meant easy access to the most incredible veggies, and took the focus off of planning before shopping.  You could go with a blank slate and a lack of a menu, and just resign to be inspired by what was available.  It was liberating, really.

This salad is a winner for the spontaneous and the planners alike – during the summer, heirloom tomatoes are readily available and simply begging to be tucked into.  Green beans are crisp and sweet and ready to snap the ends and crunch away.  You can even access buttery heirloom potatoes for use in this salad that come in just about every shade.  The entire salad is held together by a basil vinaigrette that manages to brighten and highlight all of the flavors of the veggies.  It makes a gorgeous potluck and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, but it’s nourishing enough as a main course and absolutely vegan.  Like I said before, the perfect summer celebration.

Summer Salad of Fingerlings, Heirloom Tomatoes and String Beans

1 lb. of haricots vert or string beans, snipped of stems
1 lb. of fingerling potatoes
1 c. of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 c. cubed tomatoes)

juice of half a lemon
3 tbs. of red wine vinegar
2 cl. of garlic
1/2 c. of basil leaves
1/4 c. of olive oil
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt heavily.  Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain with a slotted spoon and cool with running water.  While the water is still boiling, plunk in the haricot verts and blanch for 1 minute.  Drain and cool with running water.  Add chilled potatoes and green beans to a large bowl.  Add the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside.

In a food processor, add the garlic, basil, salt and pepper.  Blitz to mince finely.  Add the lemon and vinegar and blitz again.  While the motor is running, stream in the olive oil.  Turn off the food processor and pour dressing over the vegetables.  Toss and chill for at least 15 minutes.  Serve.

Sweet Tomato Tart

Tomato lovers rejoice, for now you can celebrate these delicious orbs of sweet majesty at all meals.  This is truly the ultimate tomato dessert given that a) there aren’t too many others in competition and b) it is as simple as it is wondrous.  “Tomatoes for dessert?!?” you scoff.  What better way to enjoy the sweetness of a tomato than in a simple tart brushed with currant jam until a rich, garnet color and then baked just enough to release the natural juices and crisp up the delicious tart crust?  You’re welcome.

Sweet Tomato Tart © Spice or Die

I first had this dessert with my mom at the restaurant Tosca in DC, and after the first bite, we totally understood how commonsensical it was to use tomatoes for dessert, particularly heirlooms.  For those that don’t know – there are two main types of tomatoes: heirlooms and hybrids.  Hybrids are the most common – they grown all year round and produce several crops of tomatoes throughout the growing season.  The tomatoes (and sorry if I am getting dorky here) are created through self-pollination, meaning that a farmer/scientist/botanist/whatever can control what specific traits that the tomato’s offspring will harbor.  This has resulted in hardy, disease-fighting tomatoes that can be enjoyed whenever and wherever.

The rarer heirloom tomato is created through open-pollination, as occurs in nature – bees and other pollinators pass on genetic traits from various types of tomatoes, resulting in wild cross breeds that are hard to genetically track and control.  The tomatoes come in wild arrays of colors, shapes and sizes, and typically only give off a single crop per growing season.  They can be bumpy, even ugly on the outside (some grocery stores actually call them “ugly tomatoes”, but cut into one and you’ll find the juiciest, sweetest flesh that you could possibly imagine.  These are the tomatoes that make people fall in love with them.  They are our oldest tomatoes as well – many of the strains were grown by the indigenous peoples of not only the continent of North America, but also around the world.

For this recipe, I encourage you to go out and find some heirloom tomatoes that look special to you – pick a fun color like the dark purple of a Black Krim, or the sunshine bright Brandywine Yellow.  You could even try one of the striped varieties for a best-of-both-worlds situation.  They’re really worth a trip to the Farmer’s Market just to check them out.  Of course, if you can’t find heirlooms, you can absolutely make this tart with a juicy, meaty hybrid tomato – just find the best ones available and treat them lovingly when assembling the tart.  It’s all good at the end of the day!


Sweet Tomato Tart

1 pie crust (can also use puff pastry)
2 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes (any color, can also use hybrid)
5 tbs. of red currant jam
4 tbs. of raw sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Slice tomatoes as paper-thin as possible (thick tomatoes won’t cook properly) and carefully lay them on a paper towel to dry them a bit.  You’ll want enough slices to cover the pie crust in one even, semi-overlapping layer.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the currant jam.  If the jam has pieces of currants in it, strain them out.  You can actually save these little currant pieces as a topping for ice cream or a sweet treat.  I actually use them like caviar (ha!) on top of a cracker spread with my mock boursin cheese recipe for a little taste of sweet and savory combined.

Roll your pie crust out into a 9″ tart pan, making sure not to tear any holes.  Lay your tomatoes out on the crust in overlapping concentric circles, making sure that the whole thing is pretty and even.  Using a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of the melted currant jam over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle the sugar on top.

Place the tart in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the tomatoes are bubbly and a lovely red, about 15-20 minutes.  Let rest until warm and serve with ice cream – maybe a lovely scoop of basil gelato?