OH! for those end-of-summer tomatoes and the glory days of bygone Augusts when my big worry was what to do with the enormous bounty in my garden. Those days are gone. :(
But back then we ate a lot of tomatoes out of hand, like summer peaches. Fresh-from-the-vine. They didn’t need salt or basil or olive oil. They were so memorably sweet, juicy and wonderful that even my daughter Meredith, who was, at the age of 3 or 4 or so, what we mothers call a “fussy eater,” asked for them as a snack.
But then came the building boom in my hometown, with all the usual consequences. The deer, who once lived in the forests, had fewer places to run and live. So they decided to live near me because we still had some woods at the back of our house.
They found my tomatoes and ate them. And all the tomato flowers that never grew into tomatoes. And tomato plant stems. They ate it all.
I tried again, for two more years. Those deer were smart. You gotta love a fresh tomato off the stalk! And frankly, when I looked out the window and saw them nibbling I couldn’t be angry at them anymore. Deer are beautiful and of course, they need some food too.
These days I buy end-of-summer tomatoes by the bucket at the farmer’s market. I don’t worry about what to do with them. We still eat most of them plain or sliced as a sandwich (Tuscan bread or firm white bread and mayo). But also as a salad and if there’s enough I make fresh sauce for pasta. And soup. Yesterday I made these stuffed tomatoes. They are just wonderfully sweet and tender and make a good side dish especially for grilled or roasted fish or as part of a vegetarian dinner.
Roasted Tomatoes with Cheese
4 large beefsteak tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half. Remove the flesh and seeds, chop the flesh coarsely and place the tomato insides in a bowl. Brush the surfaces of the tomatoes with some of the olive oil. To the bowl with the tomato flesh add the bread crumbs, cheese, basil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Stir in the remaining olive oil and mix thoroughly. Spoon the stuffing inside the tomatoes. Place the filled tomatoes on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the stuffing is golden brown. Makes 4 servings