Joni Woolf: Summer has arrived; so have tomatoes!

Published 2:13 pm Saturday, June 30, 2018

It’s official: The markets are bursting with tomatoes, a sure sign that summer is here. Even the calendar agrees. The summer solstice has come and gone and in its wake, the fields are alive with the fresh produce that makes the heart glad, once June is here.
Though I have been busy making Bread and Butter Pickles, Dill Pickles and Peach Preserves, I have taken time to stop for lunch and have a tomato sandwich — on wheat bread (I know: it’s better on white), with Duke’s mayonnaise and salt and pepper. It is a perfect summertime lunch, with a glass of sweet, iced tea. Several interesting and delicious-sounding tomato recipes have come my way recently, to add to my collection. My friend from Silver Sneakers, Susan Guynn, sent me two, and a recent issue of Macon Magazine had a fine sounding recipe for tomato pie. One of Susan’s, for scalloped tomatoes, is quite similar to one I have used for years. In another life, I always prepared it when my husband brought home birds — dove or quail — and it still makes a great accompaniment for meat dishes. Susan’s has a little less sugar, so think I will try hers the next time I prepare it.

Old Fashioned Scalloped Tomatoes (from Susan Guynn)
1 onion, chopped
1 stick of butter
2 slices of bread, toasted and cut into cubes
¼ cup brown sugar
4 cups tomatoes cut in small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Saute onion in butter. Add bread cubes and brown sugar. Cook slowly until mixed. Then add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Pour in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.

The following recipe from Susan is healthier, with almost no fat, and easy to prepare.

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Platter
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
3 large fresh tomatoes, heirloom variety, sliced
½ small, uncooked red onion, very thinly sliced
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn in pieces
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, water, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano. Arrange sliced tomatoes, slightly overlapping, on a platter. Scatter onion and basil over top; drizzle with dressing. Yields half a sliced tomato, a few onion slices and about 2 teaspoons dressing per serving. Add feta or sliced mozzarella for a heartier version.

Southern Tomato Pie
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the pie shell until light brown; remove from oven. Peel and slice tomatoes, place in colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain 10 minutes, patting dry with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Stir together sour cream and mayonnaise, then add about ¾ cup each of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and salt and pepper. Layer tomatoes in pie shell; spread sour cream mixture on top. Sprinkle reserved ¼ cup each of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over the top. Bake 30 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle torn basil leaves on top. Cool slightly and serve warm.

If you are taking the long view, like my daughter, you will buy pecks of tomatoes, peel and cook them with added seasonings and either freeze or can for future use in soups and sauces or to mix in other dishes that call for fresh tomatoes. So, head to one of the many local markets (unless you are one of those great gardeners who grows your own) and store up now. Winter will be here before you know it.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at