We’re in the height of tomato season and the assortment of heirloom tomatoes are showing up in specialty food stores, local farmers markets and backyard gardens. I love to use heirlooms in a variety of fresh dishes because of their unique colors and shapes. They have a shorter shelf life than commercially grown tomatoes which is ok with me since they are quickly devoured after I bring them home.
This recipe for heirloom tomato salad combines the fresh summer flavors with my new favorite cheese, Burrata.
Burrata is a type of mozzarella stuffed a creamy center. Imagine fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream and butter. It’s not cheap. An 8oz container which has 4 large balls of Burrata set me back $10 at Fresh Market recently but was totally worth it.
What makes a tomato heirloom?
Heirloom seeds have been handed down from generation to generation with some varieties dating back over 100 years. By definition heirloom tomatoes must be open-pollinated meaning pollen is spread naturally by bees, insects, wind and other natural means. This results in the unique shapes and colors seen in heirloom varieties. Seeds can be harvested and used the following season but may look different than the parent tomato. In general heirloom tomatoes are more prone to disease and insects and require more attention than hybrid tomatoes.
Most commercially grown tomatoes are a result of hybrid-pollination where pollen from different controlled strains are combined to create a tomato plant which shares the best traits of the two plants. This results in uniform tomatoes which are less prone to disease. Using seeds from previous crops of hybrid tomatoes will not produce the same result. It is best to use transplants or seeds from packages.
Choose several colors and shapes of Heirlooms to add variety to this fresh dish
Core and cut each tomato into 7-8 wedges and toss gently with oil, vinegar and basil in a bowl.