I don’t like raw tomatoes. If I order a sandwich, I always say hold the tomato or I pick it off and throw it away. If there are tomatoes in my salad, I always pick them out and give them away or just leave them on the plate. I never eat a Caprese salad.
Except in the summer.
In the summer, I pop cherry tomatoes like they’re cherries. I eat panzanella until I think I will explode. I can’t get enough of anything with the word Caprese as the description.
Because tomatoes in the summer, in season, are a completely different food from tomatoes in February.
When you buy an item in season, and locally, there’s nothing that tastes better. A peach. A melon. Corn. Tomatoes. Butternut squash. These foods are meant to have a shelf life. They’re meant to be enjoyed for a short time. We’ve gotten away from eating what’s fresh and bountiful around us because now everything is bountiful at all times of the year. There’s merit in that, too. I don’t want to imply that there isn’t. I just want to remind you to enjoy those local peaches. And that seasonal corn. And to eat all the fresh, seasonal tomatoes that you can handle.
This Seasonal Ingredient Map from epicurious.com is a good place to find out what is available in your area.
And this Panzanella recipe from Ina Garten is a favorite of mine. I make it at least once every summer and it’s perfect.