Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
01 Monday Sep 2008
I have virtually given up on tomatoes. The ones from the supermarket are bland, flavourless faux tomatoes and are hardly worth buying. Grape tomatoes are about the only ones I bother buying any more because they still seem to have some tomato-y taste.
As a kid, summers were spent with my grandparents on one of the Gulf Islands. They grew their own tomatoes and I would eat them off the vine, warm from the sun and bursting with that summery taste. I loved too the green, fresh smell that came when I brushed up against the dark green plants. Years later I bought a perfume from Demeter called Tomato that has somehow recreated that smell of the tomato vines. When I put it on, I’m transported back to my grandfather’s garden with its tall chicken-wire walls to keep the deer out.
So, when I saw a package of Heirloom Tomatoes at the farmer’s market recently, I ignored the price tag and put them in my basket. It was an odd little collection of cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, some purplish ones and pear-shaped ones.
When I got home, I started eating them right out of the cellophane package, some straight up, others split in half and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt.
Most tasted like tomatoes, with the exception of the Green Zebra.
While I could have eaten them all just standing at the kitchen counter, I decided to make a very basic salad with just tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and some reduced Balsamic vinegar.
I know I have already mentioned my love of all things vinegar, but reducing Balsamic gives it a sweeter, more syrupy consistency. Which makes it great for this type of salad because then you don’t need to make a full vinaigrette. It’s also great on sliced strawberries or on tomato tarts, among other things.
Making a Balsamic Reduction is super simple. Just pour a cup of the vinegar in a saucepan, put it on medium-high heat and let it reduce until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Some recipes suggest adding some sugar, but I have always liked my dressings tarter than not, so I don’t bother.
Drizzle over cut tomatoes and then add a bit of olive oil.
This would also be great on a more traditional Caprese salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.