When I was young, my family would drive from Colorado all the way to New Jersey every few years to see my Grandparents and go “down the shore”. We loved the seashore. The red sun setting over the bay, the clatter of the seagulls in the morning, the smell of the grass on the dunes, the feel of my dad’s skin – too coated with suntan lotion to hold on to – as he chucked me into the waves. I remember it all so vividly because I was young. And still to this day, I remember the taste of the New Jersey roadside-stand tomatoes as being like nothing else. You could just chomp into them like a squishy, messy apple. To me, that is the taste of summertime, of vacation, and of my youth.
Now, in Colorado, it’s early Spring and the tomatoes in the store have looked like nice, red, juicy tomatoes but they just don’t have that taste. If you close your eyes, they taste like the reminder of a tomato. They have the texture… but it’s just not all the way there. They’re like pretty, red, tomato stand-ins, holding a place until the real thing can come along.
Well, in our house, the real thing is here.
These guys are that different species of tomato that is the Summertime Tomato. It’s red and it’s real and it tastes like sunshine. But weirdly, these tomatoes grown in my little indoor garden have never actually seen the sun. It’s kind of strange to think about. I wasn’t sure how they would taste, being grown in a completely indoor setting. I thought they would be like the red imposters at the grocery store. But, after just one squirt-y bite, I was immediately back in New Jersey…sunburned and about 10 years old.
We’ve been enjoying fresh, indoor tomatoes all year, but these are definitely the biggest, tastiest and happiest tomatoes we’ve taken care of so far. I know you’re all probably waiting with bated breath for my more formal TubtoTable Tomato Indoor Growing Guide, and I WILL get to that in a later post. (We do have some tips and tricks to get the best out of your indoor tomato harvest that I’d like to share.) But for now, we are just going to revel in the success of this indoor tomato harvest. Accordingly,
- I’ve included some gratuitous tomato shots,
- I’ve waxed poetic (or as poetic as a doctor can try to be) on how much home-grown tomatoes mean to me, and now, to end this celebration…
- I’ll wrap it up with a decadent vegetarian version of the classic BLT that I literally couldn’t resist long enough to take photos of, and therefore had to make a second one.
So, let this whet your whistle, and maybe convince you to convert a bathroom into a garden and grow some tomatoes of your own…
Tomato-palooza Recipe Part 1
The MLT – aka the Vegetarian BLT
Before we became vegetarians, we used to love classic BLT’s. What’s not to love? The mayo marinates with the tomato, the lettuce soaks up all the juices. and the bacon makes it hearty and gives it that savory finish. A verrrrrrrry good vegetarian substitute for that bacon is a portobello mushroom. It just needs to be sliced thin and cooked for quite a while. Add a little oil, salt and pepper, then let it sit (and sit) in heat until it has almost the consistency of a potato chip. Right at the end, toss it in a tiny bit of syrup for that maple-bacon heartiness. I and my husband, were surprised at how authentically” BLT” it tasted.
Vegetarian BLT, the classic MLTCourse: LunchCuisine: Vegetarian, AmericanDifficulty: Easy
A vegetarian take on the classic BLT. This sandwich delivers big flavor and satisfaction!
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
3 portabello mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 large tomatoes, sliced about 1/2″ thick
4 slices white bread or texas toast
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp quality mayonnaise
1 cup shredded lettuce
- Heat oil over medium heat In a cast iron skillet, until shimmering. Add mushrooms in a single layer, turning occasionally until they are crispy and a deep, maroon color, about thirty minutes. (Add salt to taste about fifteen minutes into cooking time.) Add 1 Tbsp maple syrup, toss to coat evenly. Continue over medium heat about 1 minute to caramelize the sugar being careful not to burn the mushrooms.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, slice the tomato, salt and pepper to taste. Shred the lettuce. This allows it to really soak up the juices and flavors!
- Heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Butter both sides of bread liberally. Working in batches, brown the buttered bread.
- Construct the sandwich. Add the lettuce, approximately 1 Tbsp of mayo, the tomato and top with the mushrooms. (For added decadence, add a fried egg. Mercy!) Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!