Ripe for the Picking - The History of Tomatoes
Tomatoes are the third most widely consumed vegetable* (in 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled the tomato was a "vegetable") in the United States, lagging only behind potatoes and lettuce. They are one of a few foods that are native to the Western Hemisphere. Tomatoes originated in the coastal highlands of western South America and then appeared later in Central America where Mayan Indians used them as food. With the conquest of Mexico in 1519, tomatoes were carried eastward to Europe. Although Europeans at first believed tomatoes to be poisonous, the Spaniards and Italians eventually found many culinary uses for them. By the early 1900s, tomatoes were considered a staple of American cookery. It is estimated that more than 85 percent of home gardeners plant tomatoes. But what should you do with all those tomatoes straight from the backyard? Add the juicy taste of fresh tomatoes to your next meal with this zesty salad. Bon Appétit!

Marinated Tomato Salad

1 1/2 cups tarragon or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 plum tomatoes, quartered vertically
2 large yellow tomatoes,* sliced horizontally into 1/2-inch slices
16 red cherry tomatoes, halved vertically
16 small yellow pear tomatoes,* halved vertically

*Substitute 10 plum tomatoes, quartered vertically, for yellow tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes, if desired.

To prepare marinade, combine vinegar and salt in large bowl; stir until salt is completely dissolved. Add shallots, chives, lemon juice and white pepper; mix well. Slowly whisk in oil until well blended.
Add tomatoes to marinade; toss well. Cover and let stand at room temperature 2 to 3 hours.

To serve, place 3 plum tomato quarters on each of 8 salad plates. Add 2 slices yellow tomato, 4 cherry tomato halves and 4 pear tomato halves. Garnish each plate with sunflower sprouts, if desired. (Or, place all marinated tomatoes on large serving plate.)

Makes 8 servings

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