You say tomato,
writer says lunch
mainstay of sauce, salsa, salad and life as we know it
John “jaQ” Andrews
Whether you mash them
up into sauce or eat them raw, tomatoes are a vital part of the summer
and fall cuisine.
They’re an essential
staple in sauce, of course, but they’re used just as much in salads or
eaten by hand, like an apple. Aficionados enjoy their sweet taste, and
no one can deny their versatility. Local farms devote rows and rows to
tomato vines, and it’s peak season for the fruits of their labor. In
fact, it’s difficult to drive anywhere without seeing fresh tomatoes for
Lavoie’s runs a number
of farm stands in the area, selling whatever’s in season, be it
tomatoes, berries or Christmas trees. Rebecca Gilmour has worked nine
years “off and on” at their stand at Hayward’s ice cream at the southern
tip of Nashua’s Main Street. Her eyes lit up when suggesting one of her
favorite things to do with fresh tomatoes: toast a piece of bread very
lightly, then put it on a cookie sheet with a slice of tomato and your
choice of cheese on top. Broil until the cheese is not just melted, but
“I looove burnt
cheese,” Gilmour said.
She also suggested
mixing tomato chunks with roasted pine nuts, fresh basil, fresh parsley
and cooked bow tie pasta in olive oil.
Like many farm stands,
Lavoie’s offers “Our Own” tomatoes as well as field tomatoes from New
Jersey. Local tomatoes are noticeably smaller, even though they’re
otherwise the same.
“They pick ‘em in the
field when they’re red, with no hormones to puff them up” Gilmour said
of the New Jersey tomatoes. “They’re just from six and a half hours
New England’s rainy
spring turns out to have been a blessing in disguise. For weeks, farm
stands have had to truck in New Jersey tomatoes to meet demand, because
those crops have already peaked. Now, as New England tomato crops catch
up, the peak tomato season will be a touch longer than normal.
A couple from the
Pinardville area made their first journey to the Manchester farmers’
market on Concord Street last week and found a bevy of tomato choices.
Prices range from $2 to $3 per pound, or about the same price per pint
of cherry- and plum-sized varieties. The lady of the couple (who did not
wish to be named) said that tomato sandwiches are a big hit in her
“I’ve got a grandson
that can’t get enough of them,” she said.
Drema Cady has had her
Country Dreams Farm Stand at the Milford farmers’ market for “five or
six years now,” and offers a bewildering array of tomato varieties,
including Brandywine, Cherokee and Old German. Her most unusual kind is
the Sweet Orange tomato.
“You can eat those like
candy,” she said. These plum-sized tomatoes are indeed sweet and a
bright orange color. When she offers one to a customer, they almost
always end up buying a pint or two.
It isn’t her most
popular variety, though. That would be the heirloom tomato.
“Basically people just
want those tomato sandwiches.” Cady herself usually brings bread and
some Miracle Whip to the farmers’ market, and adds a slice of heirloom
tomato. It’s a quick meal that never fails to satisfy.
Very fresh salsa
McLeod Farms in Milford
offers this Salsa Fresca recipe, ready in just a few minutes:
2 medium tomatoes,
1 small can green
½ Spanish onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste
Combine ingredients and
serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
Fruit or vegetable?
Ah, the age-old debate.
As usual, answering
this question just makes the world seem more complicated.
In purely scientific
terms, a fruit is the part of a plant that bears the seeds and grows
from the flower. That makes the tomato a fruit, and also forces us to
accept cucumbers, eggplants and pea pods as fruit as well. A vegetable,
on the other hand, is just some other part of a plant.
Since fruits are
generally used for their sweet properties, and tomatoes for their
“savoury” flavor, tomatoes are usually lumped in with vegetables for
cooking purposes. Some prefer to classify tomatoes as “fruit-vegetables”
to ensure that their outsider status is not forgotten.
The U.S. Supreme Court
declared the tomato a vegetable in 1893 in Nix v. Hedden. A New York
port collector was sued for collecting a tax on imported vegetables. The
importer tried to argue that the tomato was in fact a fruit, and
therefore not taxable, but the Court found that “in common parlance” it
was nearly always called a vegetable.
Nearly a century later,
Ronald Reagan would try to have the tomato’s most common byproduct,
ketchup, classified as a vegetable for school lunches, continuing the
long, sad history of government impinging on this fruit’s identity.
Go tomato shopping
Sure, they sell
tomatoes at the local supermarket.
But for authentic local
flavor, the farm stand has it all over those refrigerated stores. Most
of them are open every day, but the farmers’ markets are scheduled
deals, and they’re mostly dependent on good weather.
• Amherst Farmers’
Market, Amherst Village Green, Amherst, Thursday 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Lavoie’s Farm Stands,
Nartoff Rd., Hollis; Amherst St., Nashua (across from Building #19);
Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua (at Hayward’s).
• Manchester Farmers’
Market, Victory Park, Concord St., Manchester, Thursday 2:30 to 6:30
• McQuesten Farm, Rt.
• Milford Farmers’
Market, TD Banknorth parking lot, South St., Milford, Saturday 9:00 a.m.
• Railway Farm Stand,
Crescent Rd., Manchester
• Wilson’s Farm Stand,
Rt. 3A, Litchfield