Tomato lovers may start getting gloomy as summer draws to a close, but there are still plenty of reasons to rejoice. Local red, yellow, orange, purple and striped beauties are at their peak well into September and even October, depending on locale. And restaurants are going beyond salads and BLTs to make the most of them.
“For Atlanta’s Killer Tomato Festival, I charged my chefs to develop a tomato appetizer that could be anything but a caprese salad,” says executive chef Zeb Stevenson of Livingston Restaurant + Bar. “What drives our menu is offering highly seasonal dishes that customers can’t get anywhere else in Atlanta.” The result— Tomato Terrine with Fromage Blanc and Olive Powder—contains no garlic, no basil, just pure tomato taste. The terrine is composed of several tomato varieties— turkey purples, Mr. Stripeys and sungolds—held together by jellied tomato water. It made its debut on Livingston’s appetizer menu in August.
“I like to use different shapes, sizes and colors for a more striking presentation. With an assortment of tomatoes, you also get more diverse flavor,” explains Stevenson. He buys from a purveyor who sources from a number of small, local farmers and delivers produce to the restaurant every day. Stevenson also frequents a couple of nearby farmers’ markets. Atlanta has a fairly long growing season, but to keep alive those taste memories of summer tomatoes, Livingston’s kitchen prepares jams, chutneys and pickled tomatoes to savor all winter long.
Also ready to harvest are:
•Avocados (Mexican and Chilean)
•Nectarines, peaches, plums