Also included: Why an organic gardener’s tomatoes are better and what Organic Gardening Magazine didn’t tell you about oils.
In spite of the drought and also getting a late start with tomatoes this year, we are enjoying an adequate but not abundant amount.
Recently we had special guests come for dinner. To start off with I used a cucumber and tomato as part of my appetizer dish and our guests just raved about the flavor of both. They told me the tomatoes and cucumbers they had been getting from farm stands had absolutely no flavor and they had been unable to eat them. They wanted to know why mine were so good. I feel sure the answer would be obvious to almost any organic gardener.
We’ve had severe drought which has effected even organic growers, but I’m sure it is much worse for conventional gardeners and farmers. Their fields are bare ground. No organic matter to speak of to feed a plant. Chemicals are used to force the ground to produce something. And drought to top it off. Is it any surprise that their vegetables are dry and have no taste?
As you can tell by the conversation with my guests, my tomatoes were already a hit to begin with, but I wanted to elevate them to gourmet status for the salad course of the meal. The recipe I am going to give you is so simple and so easy that you probably won’t believe how delicious it is until you try it yourself.
A couple more comments about the ingredientsbefore I begin the recipe:
As you know from my last post, I recently received an email from Organic Gardening Magazine. They were talking about tomatoes and one of the interesting things they mentioned was that pairing tomatoes with olive oil makes the tomatoes even healthier. They went on to say that “the monounsaturates in the oil will help your body absorb the red pigment in tomatoes called lycopene, a compound that may protect you from cancer and heart disease.”
What they didn’t say was that most seed/nut oils have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (another good fat) in them.
Walnut oil is one of those oils. In addition the oil is high in omega-3 fats, which have been linked to many health benefits. So are the walnuts. They are a good source of manganese and copper and contain antioxidants. Thus, walnut oil and/or walnuts paired with tomatoes makes them even healthier.
I use whole organic English walnuts that come from NutsOnline to insure freshness and avoid bitterness that is found in many purchased walnuts. Especially when serving the guests I mentioned above, I would only use the organic English walnuts that come from NutsOnline, because one will not usually eat walnuts since she finds them bitter. But when she’s here and I serve fresh walnuts fromNutsOnline she eats every one!
English Walnuts – 3 or 4 broken walnuts per guest – preferably either from NutsOnline or your own fresh fallen
Feta Cheese – If you can get organic it is much better. (As mentioned above, my guest has discerning taste buds. She does not care for feta cheese so when I use regular feta cheese she leaves it. When I use organic feta cheese she leaves nothing!)
Garlic Chives – chopped
Prepare each salad plate with 3 thick slices from the most beautiful part of the tomato. (If I’m fixing it for myself I’ll use the “unattractive” parts as well.)
Break up 3 or 4 walnuts over the tomatoes on each plate.
Crumble a slice of Organic Feta cheese on top of each.
Sprinkle with chopped chives.
Drizzle each salad with Walnut Oil and serve.
IMPORTANT – Be Aware: A lot of folks —-myself included, until I tried this recipe — think tomatoes are not tomatoes without salt. TASTE THIS SALAD FIRST AS IT IS. The oil and the combination of flavors are delicate. That is what elevates it to gourmet status. Salt can ruin it. And for sure – if you serve it to someone else – and they reach for the salt – explain and tell them to TASTE IT FIRST.
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