Why tomatoes will rule this summer
The other day I witnessed something that made my heart flutter. My three-year-old reached up on the countertop, snatched one of the two Roma tomatoes I had just washed to make a salad and popped it right in his mouth. When he was a tiny tot, I had planted organic cherry tomatoes just so he could walk up to the plants, pick and eat them. Since then, his love for tomatoes has been seasonal, but the important thing is that the seeds were planted early on.
Speaking of seasons, the end of summer signals the beginning of the local tomato season in the UAE and just thinking about fresh, sweet, succulent, organic, local tomatoes makes me go crazy with ideas. And just so you know, I photographed all of these tempting, mouth-watering tomato images right here in Dubai. yes, this is a tomato harvest in the desert at the Greenheart Organic Farm. I pride myself on my work documenting organic farming in the UAE and am overjoyed at how far the industry has come over the years since the very first organic store selling local produce (Naswa) popped up.
I like to plan an entire month of recipes around these gems when vacationing in the Balkans in the summer months where local tomatoes were the pride and joy of so many backyard farmers - and 'ripefully' so. They are truly the star of the season for me - even more than strawberries, mind you. I suppose because tomatoes are in everything and are so widely used, when they are in season and at their prime, they really and truly shine like the starry orbs they are.
If you have ever bit into a whole sour tomato as a child, it is enough to turn you off it forever. Children are naturally drawn to the intense colours of tomatoes and if they are not in season, they can be really sour or off in taste. If they are allowed to pick them in season right off a vine, it changes everything. Even for us as adults.
Organic Tomato & Salted Fish Salad
During the peak of the tomato season, the organic greenhouses at Greenheart Farms are bursting with a variety of sensationally delicious, ripe, red and even purple tomatoes. When the local Greenheart tomatoes are in their prime, they are so sweet, succulent and flavourful that they are best eaten raw. This salad celebrates the tomato in all its glory and is homage to my Jamaican roots. In the Caribbean, we love our tomatoes and they are staple ingredients in a lot of our dishes.
550g assorted organic tomatoes, sliced and cubed
60g salted fish, rinsed and soaked in water to removed excess salt (cod, pollack, haddock)
1 small red onion, finely diced
Habanero to taste, very thinly sliced and without seeds
Salt to taste
A pinch of cracked black pepper
Slice cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on size dice and dice bigger beef varieties.
Break up salt fish into small pieces.
Combine the rest of ingredients and let it sit for two hours.
Serve with slices of avocado sprinkled with sea salt and some fresh crusty bread on the side to mop up the finger-licking tomato jus!