Savoring the Seasons: Tomato time

  • From left: Stan Bernstein, Barb Bernstein and Rita Butynski at Butynski’s Farm Stand in Greenfield.

For The Recorder
Published: 7/26/2016 4:20:17 PM

Hooray for tomato season! The heat and drought we’re experiencing reminds me a lot of growing up in northern California where it didn’t rain from May to October, or so. In California, it felt “normal” to be dry all summer, and the native plants had adapted to it. That dry heat was great for growing all kinds of heat-loving vegetables, including tomatoes, as long as you kept them well-watered.

In Massachusetts, it feels really odd to be in the midst of a drought — to see Franklin County listed on the national U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu) as experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. I really feel for the farmers in western Mass and surrounding areas, whose already hard work and expenses are increased by the need to irrigate.

And, I’m grateful for all of the local farmers who grow flavorful tomatoes in all sizes and colors.

This past week, I’ve eaten cherry tomatoes as snacks from the box on the counter whenever I walk through the kitchen, sliced fresh tomatoes in my take-for-work-lunch salads in local bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches and in quesadillas made with local cheese, local tortillas and local rosemary.

Tomato season is still young, so I was glad to get these two simple and yummy recipes from Stan Bernstein with an enthusiastic email message about shopping at Butynski’s Farm stand in Greenfield. I asked Stan if he’d get a picture of himself at Butynski’s Farm. He sent me this great photo of himself, his wife Barb and Rita Butynski, who was staffing the farm stand that day.

What are your favorite ways to eat tomatoes?

I’d love to get photos of you at a farm stand, farmers market or picking up your CSA share, and recipes for what you did with the produce you bought — or grew! Please send photos to me at: mmcclinto@yahoo.com as “actual size” or at least saved at 5-by-7 and 300 dpi (pixels per inch).

This week we’re eating…

Mozzarella Caprese Salad

By Stan Bernstein of Greenfield

2 lbs. fresh field grown summer tomatoes

½ lb. fresh mozzarella, ovolini

½ C. fresh basil leaves, shredded and moderately packed

Olive oil for drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

Core tomatoes and cut them into ¼- to ½-inch slices. Lay them flat on a plate. Slice ovolini into approximately ¼-inch slices and place them over tomatoes. Distribute shredded basil over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle olive oil over the whole thing. One of my cookbooks suggests using buffalo milk mozzarella. Serves 3 to 4.

Broiled tomatoes

By Stan Bernstein of Greenfield

4 medium, ripe (but not too ripe) tomatoes

4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

4 tsp. dried oregano leaf

2 tsp. garlic granules

Salt and pepper to taste

4 T. grated Parmesan cheese

2 T. finely ground, unseasoned breadcrumbs

Core tomatoes and cut them in half along the equator. Place each half, cut side up on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle each half with ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp. oregano, ¼ tsp. garlic granules, and salt and pepper. Spread ½ T. parmesan as evenly as possible over the top of each tomato half. Sprinkle each half with ½ T. breadcrumbs. Turn on broiler and place cookie sheet on second position down from broiler. Broil tomatoes for about 15 minutes until they are soft, but not mushy or falling apart. Serve immediately.

Notes: The amounts given above are approximate. Use more or less according to your taste.

Here’s a variation: next time you make a grilled cheese sandwich, use sharp cheddar and add a slice of tomato. Top the tomato as given above, but omit the breadcrumbs. You can use a Foreman grill or a very lightly oiled skillet to grill the sandwich until the cheese just starts to ooze out. Serves 4.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals, and writer/editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to mmcclinto@yahoo.com


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