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It’s time for fresh tomatoes

Cathie Campbell/For The Madera Tribune Enjoy some healthful fresh tomatoes, preferably from a home garden.


The day before writing this, I picked two tomatoes off the one plant on my deck. It was the first harvest and I wasted no time in making a sandwich with slices of tomato, red onion and avocado.

Talk about delicious! If I had not been in such a hurry, I would have cooked a couple of strips of bacon to add to it. I just haven’t found any tomatoes in grocery stores that can compare to a vine ripened homegrown one. There are some good ones (a few, especially heirloom ones), but they are not as good.

A couple of weeks ago a deer got onto the deck and ate many of our plants, so a gate was put in. But that tomato plant gets taken into the house every night just for added protection. That is because one year squirrels got all my tomatoes at night. They jumped down from the trees to the roof to the picnic table where the potted plants were kept. At least the squirrels had a nice picnic!

But I am not so generous this year.

I hope that if you have some garden plants, they are well protected. Enjoy! I know I will. Today is my birthday and I will request another tomato, red onion and avocado sandwich rather than going out for dinner.

Tomato sandwiches with cucumber spread

Adapted from Southern Living. 1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened

2 cucumbers, seeds removed, diced (about 2 cups)

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

2 teaspoons well drained chopped pimentos

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon white wine or seasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

6 slices of your favorite thick artisan bread slices, toasted

3 large fresh tomatoes (can be a mixture of heirloom), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Thinly sliced chives 1. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cucumbers, red onion, dill, pimentos, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper until well combined.

2. Spread about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture onto each slice of the toasted bread. Top each with 2 to 3 tomato slices, and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle tomatoes with chives, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. Marinated tomatoes and spaghetti

8 ounces thin spaghetti

About 2 pounds assorted tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 shallot, minced

4 medium or 3 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/2 to 1 cup small mozzarella balls 1. Cook spaghetti as directed on package; drain well and return to pot.

2. In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, shallot, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to marinate for 2 hours, tossing occasionally. Stir in basil leaves and parsley leaves. Add desired amount of vinegar and oil. Add mozzarella balls, toss to coat and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Bacon, lettuce and tomato salad

For croutons:

2 1/2 cups cubed white bread (or any kind you prefer)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

For dressing:

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar

For salad:

About 12 ounces Romaine lettuce hearts, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 pounds assorted fresh tomatoes, sliced

6 to 8 slices crisp cooked bacon, chopped

Italian parsley and fresh, torn basil leaves, for garnish 1. Preheat oven to 375. For croutons: In a medium bowl, toss together cubed bread, melted butter, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.

2. For dressing: In a medium bowl, place shallot and vinegar and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Mix in buttermilk, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and sugar.

3. For salad: On a serving platter, arrange lettuce. Top with tomato slices and chopped bacon and drizzle with 3 tablespoons dressing. Add croutons, parsley and basil. Serve immediately with remaining dressing on the side. Makes 6 servings. Corn, tomato and avocado salad

6 ears of fresh sweet corn

2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1 large avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or your favorite kind)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper 1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook corn until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse the corn with cold water or dip into ice water until cool.

2. While corn is cooling, mix tomatoes, onion, avocado and basil in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients to make the vinaigrette, whisking until the mixture is well blended.

3. With a sharp knife, cut kernels off the cooled ears of corn and add to salad. Pour in vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Makes 6 servings.


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