Tomato season has begun in Zone 7! I have two new varieties this year: the yellow are Coyote, and the red are Matt’s Wild Cherry. The Coyote are super sweet and easy to harvest, falling right off the stem with a touch. Matt’s tomatoes have a complex, semi-tart flavor, but the skins like to tear when they are picked, so they have to be cut from the plant. Both plants are trellised with the Florida Weave and are cranking out the fruit in great quantities.
What to do with all those tiny tomatoes? Try a paella. It’s a lovely way to start the season. Serve it with those Romano beans that are also coming in right now.
I also made a classic tart, but I changed it up a bit, mish-mashing two recipes when I found my leftover pesto in the fridge was no longer worthy of being spread on a crust. Mustard went in instead, then a layer of a few of the cheeses I found in the drawer, shredded or crumbled, then the little tomatoes, each one cut open to let water evaporate in the oven. Here is the recipe I meant to make, and still plan to try before tomato season ends.
If you aren’t sure how many tomatoes will fit in your crust, do a dry fit in the pan before you wash them.
Playing with one’s food is highly encouraged.
I also tried something new in the convection toaster oven, and placed the tart pan on a black, metal baking sheet to try to get the crust browner on the bottom. Success. Dried thyme (home-grown) was sprinkled over the top.
Finally, I highly recommend the burst cherry tomato pasta recipe from America’s Test Kitchen because it is phenomenal with home grown tomatoes. I changed up a couple of things: no anchovies, and the breadcrumbs were replaced with pre-cooked sawa millet (Echinochloa frumentacea). I have found that quinoa also can be used instead of breadcrumbs, adding a nice nuttiness, and a bit more nutrition. Tiny grains and seeds take on seasonings very nicely, and they crisp up beautifully, retaining crunch even after hanging out as leftovers in the fridge. It’s an especially good way to go if you have to cook for people who need gluten-free options.
This one is going into the summer “must make” list along with the creamy sweet corn pasta from Melissa Clark. It was gorgeous enough that I wish I had taken more time to style a plate to convince everyone to make it. Really. Go make it. It’s amazing. The slightly bitter but bright lemon zest, the salty capers, the rich tomatoes, the edge of fresh basil, the mixture of textures… And unlike a lot of the ATK recipes, this one is not behind a paywall, although I made sure I printed out a copy to keep on hand. It’s a lot of tomatoes if you are growing the tiny ones, but well worth the effort. Enjoy!