Summer = Tomatoes

Mom‘s birthday is just around the corner, and I knew two things when I started to blog this project:  First, that I would launch the blog on the first of August as a birthday present to her; and second, that I would have to talk first about our summer ritual and that tomato thing we do.


Mom and I have several rituals.  The first phone call of the day opens with “Good morning I love you” even if it’s no longer morning, though I get teased about that. “Love you bye” is the proper signoff.  Saturday is yard-sale day.  The response to “See you in the morning” is “Thanks for the warning.” And so on.

One of my very favorites of our rituals involves summer tomatoes.

Okay, maybe I need to say that more strongly:  There is only one thing my mother and I really like about summer, and that’s good summer tomatoes.

Stronger yet:  Summer = Tomatoes.

If we see each other when good tomatoes are in season — not the nearly tasteless balls you buy at the grocery store in February, mind you, the good stuff, or at least the best ones we can find — then this is what we do:

  • Gather tomatoes, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, garlic (not shown) and a good loaf of crusty bread, preferably olive bread.


  • Chop the tomatoes into fairly small pieces and put into a bowl.
  • Cut the basil into a chiffonade and toss it in.
  • Mince the garlic finely (or use garlic powder; I won’t tell, but it won’t be as good — for this amount, I minced one clove of garlic very finely) and add.
  • Add a generous amount of olive oil and salt, and stir.


This is good right away, but even better if you leave it covered on the counter for around 20-30 minutes.  At the end of that time, stir it all up again, correct the salt if necessary, and put some into a bowl with a good amount of the juicy goodness that has collected at the bottom.  Tear off chunks of the olive bread and dip it into your bowl of tomatoes. (That bread knife in the photo? Totally an affectation. Tearing off chunks is the canonical way to do this.)

If you have any left over, it keeps well in the fridge, and is really good later on.  It gets ever more garlicky the longer it sits, which to my mind is a good thing, but it’s the kind of thing a person should warn a person about.

You may call this a salad, and I wouldn’t argue with you, but my mom and I use it almost as a dip, and we just call it “that summer tomato thing we do”, because really, it’s like a lot of things my mom cooks: there’s no recipe and never has been. It’s just a bunch of good foods that go well together, all tossed into a bowl or a pot.  Good, simple stuff.  And it’s my first post because it’s the essence of how my mom and I share our joy with each other.

I love you, Momma Duck.  I hope you like the blog.  It’s my gift to you, small payment though it may be for all you’ve given me. Happy birthday!


[Note: This post will also serve as tomorrow’s Meatless Monday post; when I scheduled the blog to launch on the 1st, I hadn’t yet formulated my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule.]

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Author: Serene

I run The Mom Food Project, which was born out of love for my mom and a desire to preserve the recipes of my childhood, which didn't actually exist in written form until I quizzed my mom and wrote the recipes down.

18 thoughts on “Summer = Tomatoes”

  1. I am completely with you on this tomato love. Beautiful and fresh dish – I wish I had a big bowl right now!

  2. Last night we went to a restaurant in Manhattan called Bocca di Bacco. Coincidentally, we had a delicious tomato dip—-and I think you’ve now given me the recipe!

    Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Mmmmmm, tomatoes. The one thing that keeps making me try gardening (and fail at it, but I keep trying).

  3. I love the sound of this recipe. I have always loved tomatoes – ate them right off the vine as a kiddo. I make a summer salad with cherry tomatoes (and sometimes yellow bulb tomatoes, if they look appealing):
    -halve 1lb (give or take) cherry tomatoes
    -halve 1lb (give or take) yellow tomatoes (if adding)
    -dice 1 large cucumber
    -small cube 1lb of mozzarella cheese
    -chopped red onion (if you want – i leave out)
    -italian dressing to coat
    Toss all of this in a glass bowl and eat immediately or let rest in the fridge for a while to get cool and let the juices mingle.
    You could eat some of your bread with this, too. ;)
    Oh, found you via #31DBBB.

  4. Thanks for linking to Season of Cooking!! Your recipe looks so yummy!!! So colorful!

  5. Our neighbor just gave us a huge bag of home grown tomatoes. Now I know what to do with them! My 3 year old eats them like apples, but I need to do something with them, This is perfect!

  6. That looks delicious! Tomatoes always make me think clean & fresh.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    1. Clean! That’s the word I was looking for when I was trying to talk about them the other day. Thanks!

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