So if you have a garden or you happen to frequent your local farmer's market, you'll notice, that tomatoes are everywhere; romas, red rounds, a host of heirloom varieties; green zebras, Cherokee purples and black brandy wines, just to name a few.
When I was growing up, this time of year marked not only tomato season, but something so much more. Every week during the summer months, my grandparents would go out to the garden to survey their prospective tomato crop; they'd water, clip and tend to their beloved tomato plants. Usually by the end of July they would start collecting the ripe tomatoes in large bowls and baskets until they had enough. Enough for what you might ask? SAUCE The process goes like this: First you pick the tomatoes, then you blanch them, then you put them in ice water so they're cool enough for you to handle, then you remove the skin, then you run them through a sieve to remove the seeds and then you can them. It is an arduous and time consuming process that seems to have been lost on my generation, especially with the variety of ready made sauces you can find at your local market, but you see for Italians, tomato season is so much more than just throwing a few tomatoes on top of your salad; it's our life. Tomato season marks the end of the summer and the heading into fall with a well stocked basement or pantry of canned tomatoes that will ensure that you've got enough sauce to get you to next season. We use sauce for everything; pasta, pizza, stuffed zucchini-you name it! Sauce to an Italian Nona is not something that comes out of a jar with some Italian-sounding name on the label that's been made in some industrial kitchen by machines; it's an art! It's something that takes time, experience and patience to prepare properly. If I may be so bold; it's a philosophy on life.
I know that many of us just don't have the time to wait for the tomatoes to be ready. We have jobs, kids, spouses, traffic jams, emails and the like. It's so much easier to just buy a can of already made sauce from the store. Well, that may be true. But don't let tomato season pass you by without the chance to savor the flavor. Here is a quick and easy recipe that will ensure that you get to taste all the sweet and delicious flavor our summer friend can offer.
2 lbs. farm fresh tomatoes (any variety will do)
1/2 lb. firm organic tofu, marinated
1 C. fresh basil, roughly torn
3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Olive oil
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt/Pepper to taste
Combine marinade ingredients in shallow baking dish. Dice tofu into 1/2 inch squares and toss into marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse off tomatoes and cut into large chunks and place in large bowl. Gently tear or cut basil into course pieces and toss in with tomatoes. When the tofu is ready, drain from marinade (a little left over is just fine) and toss in with tomatoes and basil. Mix together olive oil and balsamic and pour over salad. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!