heirloom tomato platter

The next two posts will feature the reigning queen of New Jersey farm stands, and perhaps, the most notable variety of Jersey fresh produce: the gorgeous and flavorsome “Jersey” tomato.  As I made my way through the market this week, a spectrum of sun-ripened heirloom varieties in assorted shapes and sizes danced out of the farmer’s crates, flaunting their bold colors like proud peacocks, and instantly winning a place in my basket.  When tomatoes are this fresh, local, and ripe, I prefer to take a “no fuss, no muss” approach and showcase them in their natural juicy state.  With that in mind, we had a few friends join us for wine before heading over to our favorite local spot, Tre Amici, and I decided to put this platter out alongside a cheese board, kalamata olives, and Moroccan nuts.  To my amusement (because you never know if people are going to embrace the idea of a healthy raw produce appetizer), the crew dove into these tomatoes headfirst and left the plate bone dry.  Overall, a smashing success.

The nature of heirloom plants is beautifully inconsistent with modern industrialized agriculture in that most of these plants’ ancestries dates back several decades and, in some cases, even over a hundred years.  The tomatoes you see in the supermarket were cultivated and genetically altered to be uniform, grow on a large scale, withstand mechanical picking, and hold up during travel.  In contrast, heirloom tomatoes, as the name implies, have been passed down from farmer to farmer, year to year and reproduce through open pollination, resulting in greater biodiversity.  They are unique, flavorsome, and colorful ancestral varieties of tomatoes allowed to be their extraordinary selves.  They have adapted to the climate and soil they’ve been growing in for years and magnificently resist extreme weather and pests on their own.  Imagine that:  Nature resolving its own problems without the involvement of dangerous chemicals and mad scientists.  Food for thought, people…

The tomato season has just kicked off, so you have the rest of the summer to head over to your local farmer and see what varieties he’s serving up.  This dish serves as an attractive side or appetizer in the summertime without any sweat on your part.  And, please, consider today’s post a serving suggestion, rather than a recipe, as this interpretation of tomatoes is hardly rocket science.

 Heirloom Tomato Platter

3 lbs.  of heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
6 – 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Arrange the tomato slices in overlapping layers, varying the sizes and colors.  Drizzle olive oil evenly over the tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with basil.  Serve immediately.

A few notes:

  • Buy as many different shapes, sizes, and colors as possible for an eye-catching presentation.
  • Consider weaving fresh mozzarella, ricotta salata, or your favorite cheese into this platter.
  • Olives or capers would be a welcome savory adornment.
  • Substitute your favorite fresh herbs in place of basil.  Oregano or parsley would work fine.
  • Consider drizzling with a balsamic glaze for more kick.
  • This platter can be prepared a few hours ahead of time if you hold the basil.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, drizzle with more oil to gloss it up, and then top with basil.



6 Responses to “heirloom tomato platter”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Claudie says:

    That’s one amazing-looking platter. I love the colors!

  2. Pam says:

    The photograph is gorgeous! And I love tomatoes, so this looks unbelievably delicious. Thanks.

  3. This platter is so beautiful!

  4. Julie says:

    Those tomatoes were so delicious, that I even gobbled them up! This is a fun, colorful, tasty, and EASY platter that is perfect for this time of year. I think I will make this for a small BBQ that we are headed to this weekend 🙂


  1. […] Contact ← Heirloom Tomato Platter […]

  2. […] conclude my two part tomato feature, I bring you a bowl of chilly gazpacho, certain to keep you cool and hydrated as summer winds […]

Leave A Comment...