Local, fresh tomatoes are starting to appear in our green grocer and at the Farmer’s Markets, and I cannot get enough of them. Neither can my two-year-old granddaughter, on the days she spends with me.
Every time she sees a new batch sitting on the counter, she asks me to cut one up for her.
She’ll nosh down a whole half-pound tomato in one sitting, if I let her, but she loves them folded into mashed avocado, with just a sprinkling of sea salt, too.
Hardly a week goes by during tomato season that I don’t buy several pounds of the bright red orbs and cook them up in my basic tomato sauce. (Recipe and how-to coming soon!)
We’ll heat the sauce as-is for fresh-tomato soup on a week night and serve with a homemade hummus and sprouted grain wrap. Or we’ll set a pot of the sauce to simmering and cut up any veggies in danger of going bad and drop them into the pot. Fifteen minutes later: Homemade vegetable soup and big savings to our grocery budget.
You can’t beat fresh
As good as that sauce is, you just can’t beat the taste of a just-picked tomato.
One of my favorite and easiest ways to enjoy tomatoes is plain and simple, with a little salt and pepper twisted over them, or just slightly dressed, like this easy Tomato Spinach Melt on Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread. I make my own, but if you don’t, check around and see if you can find some at a local bakery that specializes in artisan loaves.
Good bread makes almost as much difference as fresh, garden-ripe tomatoes.
For a melt like this, nothing beats a toaster oven. In fact, I’d rather have a good toaster oven than a microwave. Oh wait. I do have a toaster oven instead of a microwave! When we downsized from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom, we had to choose between one or the other. Easy decision.
But of course you can toast the bread in a conventional toaster, then broil the cheese under your big broiler.
Alternatively, to save energy and avoid heating two appliances, throw the untoasted bread in a cast-iron or other non-stick skillet, without oil, and toast lightly on one side. (Set your timer for 1 minute!) Flip, add the cheese, and toast on the other side until melted.
Here’s the recipe, although I imagine you can figure it out just fine with a glance at the picture. This serves one. To serve more, just multiply the ingredients.
Tomato Spinach Melt over homemade whole wheat sourdough bread
- 2 thin slices whole wheat sourdough
- 4 thin slices sharp cheddar or your favorite cheese for melting, about 1″ wide and 2″ long
- 10-15 baby spinach leaves
- 4 thick slices organic, fresh, juicy tomato, just-picked, if you can get it
- 1 slice red onion, very thin and separated into crescent rings
- 2-3 slices avocado, thin (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Lightly toast both sides of bread.
- Top both with half the cheese each and broil until nearly melted.
- Layer on spinach, tomato and onion; if using avocado, add it between the spinach and tomatoes and smoosh it a bit; sprinkle with salt and a twist of pepper and dig in.
Serve open-faced with a side of sweet potato fries (here’s a good recipe from Jennifer Pullman at Nourished Simply) or my 15-minute potato salad.
If preparing these for a gang, get ready for a fun-in-the-kitchen moment. Set up stations and have someone make the toast and melt the cheese, another person slice the cheese and throw it on the bread, and another cut up the vegetables and plate the sandwiches.
♥ ♥ ♥
Note: I first published a version of this recipe, with its photograph, on Cooking with Whole Grains and Real, Whole Foods on Facebook.