The Halloween “Pumpkin” Tomato: Trick? or Treat?

Our walk-in cooler is a wonderland! Fruits and vegetables galore. I sound like the Little Mermaid swimming up her cavern full of wonders, but in a way similar. No one would know it’s a wonder except for the person who can appreciate how many kinds of lettuces and salad leaves available, the variety of cheeses and how many kinds of tomatoes there are inside.

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“Pumpkin” Tomato photo©mrg 2016

I found a tomato the other day that looks like a pumpkin. Just in time for Halloween, I guess. Trick or treat? It’s beautiful and quite perfect down to its ribs. It’s called an heirloom tomato, which is a kind of tomato where the seeds are actually passed down between cultivators or gardeners. To be considered heirloom, as a rule of thumb, the seeds actually have to be 50 years old at least. Heirloom tomatoes are pretty unusual. And I mean it exactly how I wrote that. They are pretty and unusual. From their variegated colors to their shapes, one look at these tomatoes and you are immediately drawn to them. I didn’t want to cut into my “pumpkin” tomato, but I needed to in order to make my simple yet delicious version of tomato and olive salad.

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Tomato Salad with Kalamata and Shredded Parmesan photo©mrg 2016

Heirloom tomatoes have quite exciting features that set them apart from the usual red tomatoes we see at the grocery store. They bear names like Brandywine, Gold Rush Currant and Super Snow White which make them sound more like avatars than tomatoes. Their colors are vibrant, ranging from light green to zebra green or from deepest red to golden yellow. Even though seeming unusual in shape and streaks, like the zebra and the speckled Roman variety, the heirlooms are more flavorful in comparison to the everyday supermarket variety. Tasting an heirloom tomato, with their balance of sweet and acidic, one would think twice about buying those red tomatoes stacked nicely into a pyramid. They are bland compared to the taste of heirlooms which resemble what true or original tomatoes tasted like before all these breeding and interbreeding for a better, shippable tomato occurred. For me, it is that nuance of sweet which makes the heirloom tomatoes enticing and inspiring to turn them into a salad. I cut the tomatoes and add chopped parsley, kalamata olives, good quality extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste… a garlic baguette on the side and there you have a meal! Sorry, I didn’t get to measure, but I am hoping that it is at least pleasing to the eyes, like candy for Halloween. Trick or Treat!

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