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.
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.
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)
1/2 to 1 ball of fresh, good-quality mozzarella
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!