I’m growing tomatoes for the second summer in a row, this year four huge plants that began with leaves, then flowers, now green tomatoes, larger every day. I keep checking on them, every time I’m outside, with the dog, to get the paper, about to go for a walk, impatiently waiting for them to ripen, to be ready to eat.

Tomato Salad

Most times, I pull away a few dead leaves–there are bunches of them–even though I have no idea if this is a good thing to do. I just want to help them along, do whatever I’m supposed to to make them redden. Last year, I’ll be honest, I took the slew of my roma tomatoes inside too soon, mainly because I’d planted them near to the house (for easy watering) but also near a sprinkler head, which the plant grew over and then felt the effects of every day, making a whole side of it die of saturation. Bringing them in seemed the right thing to do then, the way to preserve them all from being ruined.

With this year’s group, every time I pull away leaves, feel the branches of the vines between my fingers, I walk away with the most delicious smell that lingers on my hands. It’s a mix of dirt and leaves and fresh, new-formed fruit all in one, the smell of tomatoes, the smell of summer.

It will probably be a few weeks, maybe a month? before my tomatoes are ready, and I’m just guessing this since I have no legitimate knowledge of how long tomato plants take to ripen. One thing’s for sure: I’ll be the first to notice when they’re ready.

voila! dinner!

Meanwhile, though, a girl’s got to get her summer tomato fix when she wants it (plus, I’m entering a contest). So I made the following pasta dish, as simple as a dinner can be really, one night after getting home from work. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s built on fresh, healthy ingredients that are as natural as they are packed with flavor.

Tomato Pasta Salad
based on a recipe I read at Last Night’s Dinner

Your choice of pasta (I used angel hair)
Olive oil
Sweet tomatoes
1/2 to 1 ball of fresh, good-quality mozzarella
Fresh basil
Minced garlic

Cook the pasta on the stovetop, as directed on its packaging. When finished, drain and toss it with olive oil (be generous), sliced tomatoes, large chunks of sliced mozzarella, big pieces of fresh basil and bits of minced garlic.

I also baked up some garlic bread to go with it. Perfection!

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Carrie

    I LOVE home-grown tomatoes! I always go to this farm stand in Tinley Park to get these jumbo home-grown pieces of heaven. Kudos to you for doing it yourself! I don’t have the time, nor the patience. When they are ready, you will be in paradise!

  2. Bob

    Hey Shannalee, I always knew you can’t beat the taste of fresh tomatoes. This recipe was simple to put together and gave lots of flavor. Keep your inspirations coming.

  3. Rachel

    Yeah! a new blog! I will be so addicted :)

  4. Kiet

    Hey Shannalee,
    Have you tried this same recipe using halved grape tomatoes? I actually prefer the taste of grape tomatoes; you get all the flavor of a tomato but with a bit of sweetness from the grape variance. Incredible explosions in the pallet, I also like to drizzle a little Balsamic Vinegar in the paste as I often like to experiment with my food. You should try it, who knows, you might like it.

  5. Shannalee

    Kiet: You know, I haven’t had a grape tomato in SO LONG! I can’t even remember what it tastes like. I’ll have to give your idea a shot soon—sounds great!

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