July 26, 2015

Cherry Tomatoes

At least once every summer when I was a kid my parents would convince me to try a cherry tomato, often from our own garden, telling me, "they are just sooo sweet!" I would believe it, and I wanted to like them, so I would try one, and gag over it. It took me till adulthood until I really ate tomatoes, and a little longer till I ate them raw. I'm so glad Willem is more adventurous than I was as a kid. The number of cherry tomatoes he eats makes up for all the ones I missed out on. They are indeed one of his favorite vegetables (fruits?). Last year for his birthday dinner we had ribs, corn on the cob, and "orange cherry tomatoes, raw" per request. (This year's birthday it was gnocchi and orange cherry tomatoes, raw. Whenever I go and cook cherry tomatoes he is not too impressed with me.) One time at the grocery store when Willem was about 2, he was in the cart and as we were waiting in line at the deli he was snacking on whole cherry tomatoes; one of them squirted seeds all over the both of us as he bit down on it and him cracked up. So they're fun, too. Cute pic I can't resist from 2012:
They are a staple around here this time of year. I love beefy slabs of full-size tomatoes in caprese salad, on a burger, or on a bagel of cream cheese sprinkled with salt...but we have a special place in our hearts around here for cherry tomatoes. While my tomatoes are doing pitifully overall in the garden this summer, for the last few years I have planted mostly or all cherry tomato plants rather than full-size ones because that is what we really like (and I've had better luck with them getting ripe before being eaten by bugs). They are so little and juicy and perfect. We'll eat them in multiple meals each week.

I love the exuberant mix of colors in the summer. The orange ones are Willem's favorites. Also the "black" (purplish) ones. Eating them one after another like berries on the way home from an awesome farm stand near us recently: "Oh I just had a really good one!-- I don't know what it was. Was it a black one Mommy? Those ones are really good."
I read that good quality cherry tomatoes can be had year-round. I'm not sure if that's true but luckily, it's not a question I have to bother myself about now. Now is the time to seize the day by making all your favorite things that use cherry tomatoes (and corn, blueberries, peaches, broccoli, eggplant, beans, basil, and just about everything else that grows). Some of my very favorite uses for cherry tomatoes other than snacking: this Greek salad is delicious, this favorite free-form lasagne, this Smitten Kitchen pasta salad I've loved lately (I am sure they'd be delicious roasted as she calls for but I actually toss the tomatoes in raw because of time, and because they don't need anything to sweeten them this time of year), super sweet sprinkled on a pizza, scattered over fried eggs with some grated cheese, and for a gorgeous dish to celebrate the bounty of everything right now, Nicoise salad.

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