Those 'Funny Looking' Tomatoes

Summer brings us so many wonderful flavors from the gardens and fields. Peaches, plums, cantaloupe and watermelon fill the farmer’s markets and produce aisles along with tomatoes (which are technically a fruit, but are treated like a vegetable).

Most stores are piled high with your typical genetically-created, hybrid tomato that has been altered to look pretty, resist disease, have a thicker skin to survive long transport times and last longer in the store and in your kitchen.   There’s one problem with that long list of traits – flavor.  Hybrid tomatoes aren’t completely tasteless, but they leave a lot to be desired in the flavor department. Many people don’t like tomatoes and much of that has to do with the tasteless, mealy-like quality of your typical grocery store tomato (that was me, until I ‘upgraded’ my tomatoes).

Are you looking for a tomato upgrade?

Well, now’s the time to try something new.

Of all the wonderful ‘fruits’ of summer, one of the most delicious is the heirloom tomato. 

“A tomato is considered to be an heirloom when the seed has been saved and grown at least 50 years or more and has been passed down from generation to generation.” (

You have probably seen this not-so-pretty tomato in the produce section of your grocery store in a range of colors from green to yellow to orange and red and some with stripes or color variations.  They are misshapen, and some have crevices, but as it is said, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.  Heirloom tomatoes are full of flavor and depending on the color you select, the flavor can vary, one variety even having a lemony taste and nearly all have less acid than hybrids.  (To learn more about the color-flavor connection, visit Tomato Headquarters.)

Try them on your sandwiches, in salads, on pizza or diced and tossed with pasta, basil, olive oil  and cheese. What’s my favorite way to eat heirlooms? I make a twist on the traditional Italian Caprese… I call it the “California Caprese”.  It combines the delicious flavor of an heirloom with the creamy goodness of avocado, fresh buffalo mozzarella and pesto. 

Here’s the easy recipe:

California Caprese

1 heirloom tomato, sliced

1 round of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

pesto (homemade or premade)

Simply layer the ingredients in any way that looks good to you.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper and it’s ready to eat.  Enjoy!