Every summer around August, our vegetable garden is filled with tomatoes that are vibrant with various shades of red, orange, yellow and green. The sweet smell of tomatoes is unique in every way, and we always know that summer is coming to an end when their scent becomes so strong that it starts wafting through our kitchen windows. We plant a large variety of fruits and vegetables every spring, including zucchini, strawberries, carrots and more, but we always make sure we have plenty of tomato plants, because we love tomatoes, and because they’re so low-maintenance. Frankly, you could train a monkey (or a toddler) to grow them.
Our usual selection includes a variety of cherry tomatoes, my personal favorites being Sweet 100s, Yellow Pears, and Sungolds. We love growing these specifically, because most of them are really sweet and they’re extremely prolific. We also grew Taxi tomatoes this year, a medium-sized yellow tomato. We attempt to grow heirlooms every year, but we almost always fail to succeed at this. I think we grew one acceptable heirloom one year but it didn’t taste very good. Why are they so difficult to grow?!
Anyway, there’s always something particularly satisfying about cooking with ingredients that you have grown yourself. Here are a some fresh and simple dishes we concocted with the bunches and bunches of tomatoes we’ve harvested this year!
My Caprese Salad (one of my favorite dishes ever): Fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, basil from our garden, salt and pepper, and my secret ingredient, a splash of white truffle oil. Truffle oil makes everything taste better, in my opinion! This is a great pre-party appetizer too; it’s super quick and is bursting with flavor.
Fresh Vegetable Penne: Brown rice or corn-based pasta with sautéed garlic and zucchini (also from our garden), topped with fresh tomatoes, shredded parmesan, and olive oil, with a pinch of salt and pepper
Our Take on the Personal Pan Pizza: Gluten-free pizza crust, fresh tomatoes, marinara sauce, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, red onion, olives, fresh pineapple, and fresh basil from our garden.
This is one of our favorite meals because we all get to make our own pizza and we let Jackson and Finley choose any toppings they want. Then they they get to spread everything on themselves. It’s a great “cooking activity” for kids because they can practice chopping and slicing certain ingredients on their own (with careful supervision, of course).
Obviously, you have the option of making your own pizza crust, but this is usually a meal we make when we don’t have much time to prep for dinner. Trader Joe’s makes a great ready-made crust and it only needs 6-10 minutes in the oven so it’s quick and easy.
As you can see below, one of my kids is pickier than the rest of us. I don’t want to rat anyone out, but it’s totally Jackson.
I’ll be writing a similar post soon, all about our magnificent plum tree and how it rains plums at our house every year towards the end of summer!
For more about what we do with our garden freebies, check out For the Love of Peonies.
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