Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes Season

Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes

I was 21 when I tried my first heirloom tomato. This marvel was plump, juicy, tangy, sweet, and bursting with a savory quality that I didn’t yet have the words for (I wouldn’t learn about “umami” until much later). It was gorgeous — golden yellow, variegated with oranges and reds. My heirloom tomato was as satisfying to eat as a perfectly cooked Ribeye steak, and yet as refreshing as a cool drink of water. It was light years away from the dry, mushy, pinkish grocery store beefsteaks from my childhood dinner table.

I felt as though I had been lied to my whole life. Up was down. Black was white. THIS was a tomato?? I converted right then and there. In fact, I no longer balk at a $7/lb price tag during heirloom tomatoes season of late August. When I see a perfect pile of multi-colored heirlooms on display, they are destined for my shopping cart. Since heirloom tomatoes are at their peak for such a short season, we can go back to paying less for a lesser product come October.

The exorbitant grocery store price  makes more sense to me this year since I started cultivating [read: failing to cultivate] my own crop. Results have been… mixed. Unfortunately, it’s September now and my tomatoes are still green.

Green Heirloom Tomato
The Patient Personal Chef

While I wait for my garden to ripen, I have the privilege as a personal chef to prepare recipes for my clients that showcase these beauties in all their glory. I love sharing ideas with my clients and “geeking out” over new recipes each week. Gazpacho, caprese, savory tomato tarts, and more. A few weeks ago, I prepared an heirloom tomato salad recipe for one of my clients. The next morning, I received this photo with the caption “Breakfast of champions!” 

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Recipe Recommendations

I have chosen just one recipe idea for you to try before this precious and brief season ends, but there are dozens that I could recommend. See below for some tomato recipes. A perfect heirloom tomato is a meal in itself. All you need to do is slice it and sprinkle with salt and pepper! Here’s one more idea that I’m sure you’ll love: Tomato and Peach Panzanella Italian bread salad. It allows for — no, REQUIRES — stale bread, and uses what I consider to be a quintessential vinaigrette recipe that you should have in your back pocket at all times. Guaranteed, Panzanella is the breakfast, lunch, or dinner of champions. Enjoy!

– Stacey

contributed by Chef Stacey O’Farrell

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho Soup Recipe
Tomato Peach Panzanella Recipe
Heirloom Tomato Peach Panzanella Recipe
Heirloom Tomato & Cheddar Tart Recipe

Sign up to receive the 2021 Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen List!

Sign up for our newsletter to enjoy seasonal cooking inspirations, tips from our chefs, and for updates on company activities. When you sign up, you will receive a free download of this year’s Dirty Dozen list. Our newsletter is sent out once per month at most.
We hate SPAM, both in emails and in cans, and promise to keep your email address safe. Here is our Privacy Policy.