An Ode to the Tomato

By We Olive Culinary Projects Editor Emily Davis

On the rare occasion that I encounter someone who does not like tomatoes, my first thought is that they’ve clearly never had a good tomato. And let’s be honest people, there are A LOT of bad tomatoes out there. I’m talking about those orangish, mealy, out-of-season atrocities that should be banned for sale or at least renamed to something more appropriate. Like Yuck Fruit. Yuck Fruit would be a great name for those things because they are a crime against the actual tomato.

The tomato I’m talking about appears only in the summer months in most parts of the country. It is brashly red and smells like the vine from which it was plucked. It beckons the beholder to take a bite, not unlike the apple that victimized Snow White. It is juicy and bright and hits the back of the cheeks with a jolt when bitten. It is best accompanied by a small bowl of flaky salt to sprinkle the next bite.

If you’re not up for eating a tomato like a Granny Smith, there is still a multitude of ways to honor the tomato. If you, like me, love and savor the tomato, this list is for you. If you are a tomato naysayer, I beg you to reconsider; this list is for you too. Without further ado, here are my top 3 picks for best performance by a summer tomato.

  1. Simply sliced and minimally doctored. Sliced tomatoes appeared at nearly every summer meal at my childhood dinner table simply sprinkled with salt. I’ve taken that tradition and drizzled a robust extra virgin olive oil all over it. It is absolutely one of the best things I can imagine eating. Occasionally I’ll scatter some fresh herbs over the tomatoes or whatever soft cheese I have in the fridge, but tomatoes, olive oil and salt are a combination that feeds my soul.
  2. On a sandwich. Tomatoes are the leading cause of soggy sandwiches IF you use the wrong bread. Good crusty bread slathered with aioli, layered with thick slices of ripe tomato and sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper can be divine. The juice from the tomato seeps into the bread making it the perfect combination of crusty but tender. My other go-to is, of course, the the BLT. Here is where plain white sandwich bread shines. The key is a good toast on the bread and juicy tomatoes. To make your own aioli with We Olive EVOO, click here.
  3.   In a drink. I’m not talking about juicing here. I’m talking about taking your Bloody Mary to the next level. It’s like drinking a garden. All juicy, tomato flavor, no cooked or canned undertone. Get my recipe here.

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