The $64 Tomato
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
Need an entertaining book to read while you wait for those tomatoes to ripen? Want to learn about gardening while laughing out-loud? Read, "The $64 Tomato", by William Alexander.
"How one man nearly lost his sanity, spent a fortune and endured an existential crisis in the quest for the perfect garden."
You may not want to read this book if:
1. You are gardening to save money.
2. You are planning on expanding your garden to include two-thousand square feet.
3. You don't enjoy reading hilarious books.
You can order this book and thousands of others on gardening free from The Mesa County Public Library. Just go online to mcpld.org and click on the search books button and search the Marmot Global system. The library will have the book delivered to the library of your choice for you to pickup when it is available.
The book also has a few recipes. I am just waiting for my first tomatos to ripen to try this one.
30 fresh basil leaves, washed
1 lb medium shells or other pasta
4 or 5 heirloom or other vine-ripened tomatoes, about 2 lbs.
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Go out to the garden or farmstand and pick 4 or 5 of the ripest good-size tomatoes you can find and about 30 leaves of basil. If you have parsley, grab a few springs.
2. Start a large pot of boiling, salted water. Slice each tomato in half across the equator and, over the sink, scoop out most of the seeds with your fingers. Don't worry about getting all of the seeds out. Chop the tomatoes to medium dice and place in a colander for a couple of minutes to drain the excess liquid. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl. Chop the basil and parsley.
3. Cook the pasta. We use medium shells for this dish, because they hold the thin sauce nicely. While the pasta is cooking, slice the mozzarella into 3/8" cubes. Grate the Romano.
4. Smash a clove of garlic and saute very gently in 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat. Take care not to brown the garlic. Remove the garlic and add the warm oil to the tomatoes. Add the basil and toss.
5. When your pasta is almost cooked, season tomatoes with a pinch or two of kosher salt and pepper. (If you add the salt too soon, the tomatoes will render too much juice.)
6. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain quickly (do not rinse) and return to pot, off the heat. Add the tomato mixture and mozzarella. Mix well and cover tightly. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir again. The heat of the pasta should have partially melted the mozzarella. Spoon into pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsly and half of the Romano over top and serve with remainder of Romano.