|Layered Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta and Basil Oil|
In recent years, heirloom tomatoes have caught the fancy of an increasing number of gardeners and local growers. Heirloom varieties which are at least 50 years old are plants that have been grown year after year for generations, handed down from gardener to gardener. These are the tomatoes that people have fallen in love with, and have deemed worthy of keeping.
Heirloom tomatoes have several advantages over hybrids. They have outstanding flavour, come in a variety of colours...pink, yellow, orange, maroon, purple.... may be marbled or striped, have unusual shapes (until the 20th century, tomato varieties were every shape but round) and an extended growing season. However, heirlooms are more prone to disease than hybrid varieties. They have names like Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Kellogg's Breakfast, San Marzano, Yellow Pear and Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter!!!
When I was recently at my local Italian market the owners daughter asked if I would enjoy some of her dad's Roma tomatoes from his garden. Imagine my delight when they were as big as your fist and not the small Roma's you find in a can for your tomato sauce. He brought the seeds over from Italy years ago and continues to grow them lovingly year after year.
Since it is peak tomato season I went in search of the perfect heirlooms. When in Peachland over the weekend I visited the farmers market and made my way straight to the Heirloom Lady who grows delightful varieties like this striped version and Brandywine. They are so sweet and delicious and every colour of the rainbow. The rich tapestry of colors, the diversity and depth of their flavor, and the general beauty of these tomatoes provide an experience that your average grocery store tomato just can't match!!! My next creation I will name "Painted Desert Heirloom Tomato Salad" with every colour of the sunset spread across your plate.
Such special tomatoes deserved a special presentation so I layered them with some feta cheese and topped all with a quick and easy basil oil. Zip, tuck and your done!!! Are they worth the extra cost? I was in heaven and you will be too!!!
**Layered Heirloom Tomatoes with Feta and Basil Oil**
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 red heirloom tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices
3 yellow heirloom tomatoes, each cut into
3 slices1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
Process olive oil and basil in a blender or immersion blender until pureed; set aside.
Stir together shallots and next 3 ingredients. Pour over red and yellow tomato slices; toss gently. Set aside.
Place feta cheese in a large bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in onion.
Place bottom slice of red or yellow tomato on a serving plate. Spread about 2 tablespoons of feta mixture over slice; drizzle with about a teaspoon reserved basil oil. Repeat with middle slice of tomato, feta mixture, and basil oil. Top with stem end of tomato. Repeat with remaining tomatoes, feta mixture, and basil oil. Drizzle tomatoes with remaining shallot marinade and basil oil.
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