Colorado’s hottest summer in recorded history produced some immediate horrors in drought and fire with other impacts yet to be known.
In well-watered home gardens and irrigated farms, vegetable and fruit lovers have had to figure out what do do with a succession of crops like cherries that became ripe weeks early. And some produce items have thrived in the unrelenting heat including tomatoes which are arriving by the bushel from local fields.
To celebrate the bounty, Harlequin Gardens and the CSU Extension in Boulder County are hosting their second annual Taste of Tomato Aug. 25 in Boulder. The festival includes a sampling of dozens of varieties of tomatoes grown in local home gardens. In fact, if you bring three or more medium to large tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes of one kind from your home garden for the tasting, you get in free.
Attendees get to sample oodles of tomatoes and cast votes for their top three favorites which will be grouped and labelled by type (i.e., cherry, beefsteak, heirloom, paste, etc.) Experts will be on hand to talk about tomato growing (including diseases), seed saving and cooking and preserving tomatoes.
Local farmers will be on hand selling tomatoes because the Boulder County Farmers Market moved to Sunday due to the big bike race in Boulder on Saturday.
Here is the recipe for the Pasta Caprese Salad from Engrid Winslow, a member of the Harlequin Gardens’ staff. She writes:
“I make this recipe about a dozen times every summer. I like it with cherry tomatoes; mixing the Black Cherry, Sungold and Green Doctors (or a red cherry like Juliet) makes it look and taste special.
Pasta Caprese Salad
2 pounds cherry tomatoes cut in half
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced very fine or put through a garlic press
1 shallot (small to medium), peeled and minced fine
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
12 ounces or more fresh mozzarella, diced
1 pound dry pasta (penne or fusilli)
1/4 cup basil, chopped or chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
Whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic, shallot, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl. Gently toss in the tomatoes and set aside for up to 45 minutes. While tomatoes are marinating, cook pasta and chop mozzarella. Spread the mozzarella on a plate and freeze for about 10 minutes (see note). After pasta is well-drained, add it to tomatoes and then add the mozzarella. Add basil and adjust seasonings with additional lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Serve warm, but it is also good as cold leftovers. Makes about six servings.
Note: If you are using store-bought mozzarella in a tub and don’t briefly freeze the mozzarella, it can become stringy and rubbery. Avoid this by letting the pasta cool a bit before adding the mozzarella.
Taste of Tomato
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 25
Gateway Park Fun Center, 4800 N. 28th St., Boulder
Note: Watch out for bike race traffic jams