Plated + Served: Sincerely Yours


This time of year, the tomatoes are sincere.

In other months, they practice their little tomato charade… looking like tomatoes but not smelling, or feeling, let alone tasting, like tomatoes. They are tomato poseurs.

But in these warm, waning days of summer, tomatoes, particularly the luscious and vibrant locally grown heirloom varieties, are bursting with honest flavor. They smell wonderfully tangy, and each variety tastes completely different. Green zebras taste tart and fresh, Mortgage Liters are sweet (and huge!), Cherokee Purple are dense and juicy and Brandywines are deliciously acidic and sweet.

I love tomatoes (can you tell?).

The infatuation began when I was small. I would pick cherry tomatoes out of Papa Daddy’s garden and drown them in salt. But the love affair really blossomed during a summer trip to Italy, where tomatoes always seem to be perfect and ripe and delicious.

What sealed the deal was eating a traditional Italian salad called Panzanella for the first time. This simple salad was made with fresh, hand-picked tomatoes, mild torpedo onions, sharp smelling basil, leftover ciabatta bread with a locally produced fruity olive oil and red wine vinegar drizzled on top.

I ate bowls and bowls every day.

This is still one of my favorite summertime treats (since I rarely buy tomatoes except in the summer). The traditional recipe calls for soaking the bread, but I prefer it toasted and crisp, like big, fat croutons. I find the salad holds longer and the crunchy bread adds a different dimension to the salad.

You can add a variety of ingredients to make this salad your own, like cheese, cucumbers, tuna, Italian olives (cerignola or gaeta for example), leftover chicken… you get the picture.  Just be sure you include plenty of tomatoes—this time of year they are the star of the show!


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2 thoughts on “Plated + Served: Sincerely Yours

  1. C.Chavez

    In a few weeks I will be able to enjoy tomatoes again.
    The salad made my mouth water, could smell the ingredients you
    listed, plus the simpler recipes are always the best.
    Mangia !!

    1. Mama Post author

      Freshly picked tomatoes make all the difference! Let me know what you think of the salad after you make it! ¡Buen provecho!


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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: