After uncooperative spring weather, it’s time to enjoy ribbon-quality tomatoes

The old saying “a day late and a dollar short” applies, in a way, to the lack of ripe tomatoes to enter in the Mesa County Fair’s open class on July 19.

Only in this case it was “three days late and ribbons short” for me and even longer for my husband Fred.

Three days after the fair entry deadline, I had six beautiful, ripe, ribbon-quality tomatoes.

Unfortunately, many gardeners have shared in this dilemma, since there weren’t any tomatoes entered in the open class and very little fresh produce overall because of uncooperative spring weather.

But wait, I have good news.

If you recall, last year I expressed to Fred my belief that his garden spot in full sun (as opposed to mine with limited rays) was the “real” reason for the size and numbers of his tomatoes, resulting in his winning our 2009 Tomato Throw Down.

He claimed victory was because of his fish emulsion, calcium and other secrets. To prove this, he insisted we switch spots for 2010.

He was so boastful, he needed a larger shirt size.

Well, my friends, we have come to the end of the 2010 Tomato Throw Down. It’s mid-August, and Fred has caved in the contest. He meekly whispered, “its location, location, location. It’s full sun.”

Ahhh, sweet justice (but no ribbons) has come my way.

Note: Don’t forget the Peach Recipe Contest set for Saturday. For contest details, go to palisadepeachrecipecontest.com.

Now is the time to enjoy fresh tomatoes along with those peaches.

Jeff Oppenheim’s Tomato Salad

This peach contest winner also loves tomatoes.

Simply mix chopped tomatoes, cubed cheddar or snack cheese, diced red onions, capers, garlic, mayo, a little Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Fred’s favorites:

Dixie’s fresh tomato salsa: diced tomatoes, jalapenos, red or sweet onions, lime juice, pinch of sugar, minced garlic, sometimes bell peppers and cilantro. Hint: Try adding diced fresh peaches.

A tomato and a salt shaker out in the garden.

Midwest treat: sliced tomatoes, onion, lettuce and mayo on white bread.

Friend Jill’s Minnesota traditions:

Light mayo and lemon pepper on sliced tomatoes. Or turn into a sandwich with a really good bread (must be toasted).

Quick “put up” frozen tomatoes: peel, cut in half, scoop out seeds; single layer in freezer bag. This fall/winter, just pull out of bag and use in any sauce, soup, etc.

Spectacular Summer Squash Recipe

This is a tomato twist on my daughter Cynthia’s recipe

5–6 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced (I use yellow zucchini also)

1 large onion (or more) thinly sliced

Kraft Sharp Cheese Singles

2 medium tomatoes thinly sliced

Fresh basil

Salt/pepper to taste

3 tablespoons heart healthy margarine (she says butter)

1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener

Saut&233; squash and onion to slightly tender. Melt margarine, add sugar, and toss with saut&233;ed vegetables. Place a layer of vegetables in a casserole or square baking dish ending with sliced tomatoes and a little basil. Tear up 2 or 3 slices cheese over the layer; continue with another layer or two, depending on baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes or until bubby and a little brown on top.

Tip: Experts think eating these gems with a little fat (olive oil) may enhance absorption of the healthy lycopene in tomatoes.

Dixie ideas:

Add one cup fresh sweet corn kernels to a frittata recipe; cook to over half done; adding tomato wedges on top, finish cooking. Serve with sour cream mixed with fresh basil or fresh tomato salsa.

Top fresh corn chowder with chopped tomatoes as well as other casserole or soup ideas.

Add diced tomatoes, fresh basil and/or other herbs to prepared rice mixes plus other diced fresh vegetables and a little olive oil if desired. Or, just cook up brown rice or your favorite pasta for this.

Broil or grill. Top with shredded parmesan/Romano cheese.

Fresh tomato sauce.

If a dish has vegetables in it, tomatoes will most likely go in it, on it, or along with it.


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