The Heart of New England
with Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic
(made with greenhouse-grown tomatoes)
By Charlie Burke

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In early summer we are waiting for late summer’s great vegetables, and
tomatoes certainly head the list.  While we are all waiting for the special flavor
of August tomatoes most people are unaware that
greenhouse-grown tomatoes
now available rival late summer field tomatoes in taste.

Greenhouse tomatoes are raised in hoop houses
and are heated in early spring to get started. As
temperatures rise, the sides of the greenhouses
are raised, and the tomato plants grow in conditions
similar to those of field tomatoes. Breeding has
resulted in greenhouse tomato varieties which
rival field tomatoes in flavor, and some tastings
have resulted in greenhouse tomatoes’ finishing
first. Fortunately, they bear no resemblance to
“hothouse tomatoes” sold in years past.

Farmers who grow greenhouse tomatoes take
significant financial risk. They invest in the hoop
house, a heating system and the equipment
and materials to grow the plants. When they take
their tomatoes to market, they deserve a premium
price, and if you decide to pay this price you
will be rewarded with remarkable flavor well
before field tomatoes are ripe.

I used greenhouse tomatoes for this simple recipe for
brochetta, which offers a
delightful taste of summer (and of Italy) to your family and guests.  Tomatoes,
basil, garlic and olive oil combine with crusty olive oil coated bread and fresh
mozzarella cheese to give you a truly authentic taste of Italy.

Use my previous recipe for
fresh tomato basil sauce, perhaps with less garlic
and adjusting the tomato for the number of brochette being made. Like the
Italians, use your taste to determine the mix.

Four servings:

Eight slices crusty European style bread, toasted and lightly brushed with olive
oil. Chopped tomato, garlic and basil, mixed with extra virgin olive oil and salt
to taste.

Mozzarella cheese, chopped – 1 teaspoon per brochette

Toast bread, brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil
Place 1 tablespoon tomato mixture onto each piece of bread
Place 1 tablespoon mozzarella atop tomato mixture
Place under broiler on high heat until cheese melts
Serve immediately with your choice of wine

Look for greenhouse tomatoes at your farmers’ market or check with your
Department of Agriculture to locate local farmers growing green house
tomatoes. You will be rewarded with the great taste of locally grown tomatoes!

About the author: Charlie Burke, an organic farmer and avid cook, is the vice president
of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the
NH Farm to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers'
Market.  Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries
at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Bruchetta, made with greenhouse grown tomatoes.  Click here for more recipes...
Steve Surowiec checking on the  crop of fabulous green house tomatoes he and his wife, Katie, grow at Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton. The are available at their farm stand daily and at the Sanbornton and franklin farmers' Markets
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