September 16, 2010

A Genuine Heirloom

Whitesnake {Whitesnake}

What do Banana Legs, Great Whites, and German Pinks have in common? No, they aren't 80s cover bands that you sang along with during your college days. (Egads, some of you gentle readers are in your college days! Sweet babies). These funny sounding names are all varieties of tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes to be exact! If you're familiar with this trend, you know that growing heirlooms is a bit of a different process.

heirloom-tomato via

To be an heirloom, the tomato must have been grown from seeds that were saved from a parent plant. This ensures that the offspring remains true to its type (remember genetics in science class and Mendel's sweet pea tests?). So why does this matter so much and why are folks so obsessed with antique tomatoes? Apparently there is a great risk for losing thousands of varieties of veggies and flowers because of the reliance on commercially sold 'hybridized' seeds which lead to watering down the gene pool.

cl heirloom tomatoes

My home state of Tennessee is the originator of one famous heirloom tomato variety, Cherokee Purple (pictured below). I recently bought a couple of this type and made a sort of Ratatouille with them. It was delicious.


My Sort-of Ratatouille

  • 2 large Cherokee purple tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 yellow squash, roughly chopped
  • 1 can of green peas, drained
  • 1 package frozen cheese ravioli (optional)

Steam and drain the squash. Add tomatoes and peas. Simmer. Add ravioli if you wish (prepared according to package directions). Season with garlic, salt & pepper, and any other Italian seasonings you prefer. Very yummy end of summertime meal. Feel free to change it up if you don’t like peas! We ate this with some homemade bread dipped in a little olive oil.


{I also had a good little lunch salad of chopped tomatoes drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar.}


Do you have a favorite heirloom variety? What’s your best tomato dish?