Summer Marinated Tomatoes, garden grown, are maybe the most delicious thing about summer for our little family. Sometimes it’s layered on that perfectly crafted sandwich and sometimes it’s simply sliced up on a plate slathered with a little salt + mayo. Either way, home grown tomatoes, sweet and juicy, are a valuable commodity around this house.
The recipe I am going to share with you for Marinated Tomatoes was passed down to me from my mother and originated from the mother of an old family friend. I especially love this tomato recipe because it is not only amazing on its own but a big batch becomes the backbone for so many other recipes of which I plan to share with you a few of my favorites over the next few weeks.
Now friends, if you have never tasted a really fresh, well grown, perfectly ripe tomato out of someones garden much less a Maryland tomato…I am here to tell you…it defines the word bliss. You know how you feel when you bite into a perfectly sweet peach and the juice drips down your arm? This is the equivalent on the more savory vegetable spectrum. They are big and rich, light on seeds, juicy and so sweet (Ridge has been known to eat them like an apple).
There is something about the dirt, we’ll call it the Maryland Terroir for you oenophiles. So special, rumor has it that my mother knows of a women who moved down south and after her dream of year round tomato gardening produced sub par fruits, actually had the Maryland dirt trucked down for her new garden in an attempt to recreate the magic that occurs when you put any tomato plant in the ground in Maryland. That people, is completely legit and if I moved close enough to where I could do this…I totally would. That is how crazy amazing the tomato soil is there.
This really did sound ludicrous to me until I moved out west and now I fully understand. Our first attempt at gardening was not for many years until we moved from Frisco to the Highlands neighborhood of Denver (ah, more Highlands tales another day) and we did manage to grow some mile high tomato plants as you can see.
We were so proud. We tended to them day and night, pinching and trimming, watering, admiring…sharing batch after perfected batch of salsa with friends and co-workers. Our plants were like children. We showed them off to everyone who came by (not that they didn’t stand out in our tiny little city backyard). By August they were well over our heads by feet. But in the end, although home grown…they weren’t the same. Good no doubt but small. Sweet but not rich like we dreamed about.
We tried again the following summer sourcing the highest quality heirloom starts from local underground, backyard growers who posted heirloom vegetable ads at the neighborhood Lo-Hi coffee shop like it was a poster for a late night open mic session. I remember the excitement of anticipating the day of the backyard plant sale, walking Hawken’s wagon down block after block. Feeling the litteral buzz from the indie growers, the cool authenticity of the old Bungalo house with the illegal beehives in back and new chicken coop project after the recent approval of backyard chickens within city limits.
It was the beginning of the home beekeeping, chicken movement and we were there on the edge, watching in awe like high school kids at a college party. I’d pre-ordered heirloom anything I could get my hands on. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, hot peppers, long cukes, the would-be cutest round eight ball squash you ever laid your eyes on.
We’d had an even more prolific summer that year and by fall our eight ball squash was left on the vine to over grow to serve as ugly green pumpkins come Halloween. Our tomatoes were fast and furious that season just like before. We loved and protected them from late blight and early mountain frosts. Those plants produced some awesome, beautiful fruit. Sweet and delicious. But still no Maryland-blooded mators. They were small, probably due to the cold nights and sweet but not rich yet again.
The following year we moved back to Maryland. No, not entirely for tomatoes but it was a plus. We managed to produce another child instead of a garden the first year (prob just as much work) and then dug our next garden just feet from the shoreline in the rich, amazing, Tunis Mills/Eastern Shore soil and behold we grew tomatoes. Tomatoes like you have never seen. Stunningly colored in swirls of yellows, orange and red…and each one was bigger than the next. It was the best summer of tomatoes and dreams (lol) and we look back with envy. God I miss those tomatoes.
This marinade is simple and stunning and will knock the socks off your taste buds. Give it good time to set in, overnight is always best and I promise you a plate of the most glorious taste of summer. You will never fully enjoy a grilled cheese without a slice again I swear.
Garlic + Vinegar + Oil + Herbs
Combined to create just the right balance with the sweetness of the fruit turning even the most common tomato into something magical. I think I remember the day I first served these to Ridge and I swear he married me just because of this recipe. I could see it in his eyes when he saw the huge plate with layer after layer of glistening tomato slices.
As I mentioned, there are so many fun things you can do with this recipe. No doubt killer on any summer sandwich, but equally as stunning in this Everything Pizza Pasta as well as this Roasted Tomato Mac-n-Cheese. Both are awesome for feeding a crowd and perfect to create at the beginning of a hectic week and enjoy for the days that follow. Recipes are on the way, stay tuned.
In the mean time, make yourself a jar of this stuff and do a little dance cause good times & happy tomato flavors are coming your way.
Happy gardening – Happy summer folks.