Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Though I don’t love the heat, August is one of my favorite months of the year. Why? For one reason:

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!!!! At this time of year, the market is full of beautiful, extra-juicy tomatoes in all colors, shapes, and sizes–so ripe they are nearly bursting. It really makes it hard to eat tomatoes any other time of year when they taste so incredibly good right now. I love pureeing them with cucumber, onion, garlic and fresh herbs into a zippy gazpacho (more on that later), or simmering them slowly with garlic and onion into a fresh tomato sauce. But perhaps my favorite way to eat them is in a Caprese salad: simply sliced, layered with fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn basil, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Last September, the day before my wedding, a couple of friends and I trekked over to the Farmer’s Market (on foot!) and picked up several crates of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that would later go into a Caprese salad for the wedding dinner. Though I could have just entrusted our caterer to buy the tomatoes, I was obsessed with the idea of having the freshest, funkiest tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. Otherwise, what’s the point of an heirloom tomato salad? (Note: It was definitely worth the effort.)

My other favorite way to eat tomatoes is–as shown in the picture below-sandwiched between airy ciabatta (from Amy’s Bread) and pressed on a panini grill.

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. I added a little prosciutto, pressed it for 3 to 4 minutes until the bread was crisp and the cheese oozy, and voila! A beautiful lunch that can only be enjoyed for a few more weeks. And while you’re at it, you might as well pour a glass of rose since that, too, is fleeting…

Panini Done


Ciabatta bread
Good extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh buffalo (or cow’s milk) mozzarella, thinly sliced
Heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
Torn basil
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Salt and pepper

I purposely did not include amounts because you can use your judgement on this. And who knows, you might just want to make one sandwich, but you also might have friends over and want to make four or five! So just look at the pictures above as a guide.

Heat your panini grill.

Slice the ciabatta bread in half and drizzle both sides with olive oil. Layer one half of the bread with mozzarella, tomatoes, torn basil, and prosciutto. I usually add a little salt and pepper on the tomatoes, plus another drizzle of olive oil, but feel free to season as you wish.

Place the top half of the bread on top of the sandwich and lightly brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Press the sandwich in the grill for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the cheese begins to melt.

My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.


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