Put those tomatoes to use in these recipes for pasta, salad and salsa


We’ve given up on tomatoes.

Before I am hit with a hurricane of angry emails filled with nasty, not-very-Midwestern comments, let me clarify.

We’ve given up on growing tomatoes. And, to be honest, that makes me very sad.

For decades, the other Michael and I were tomato farmers. Our garden was loaded with tomato plant after tomato plant.

Typically, we stuck to standard varieties — Roma was a favorite, as was San Marzano. On occasion we’d be seduced by some of the more exotic (and heirloom) varieties.

Over the years we planted everything from green zebra to Cherokee purple to Black Krim. It was a veritable rainbow of vegetables — er, I mean, fruit — we would tend like our own children.

We staked them to give them support as they grew. We squealed with delight when we saw the first blossom.

That squeal turned to shouts of joy when those blossoms began to swell into actual tomatoes. At that point, we started to envision quart after quart of tomato sauce and fresh BLT sandwiches.

And then, like children, our tomatoes turned on us.

At some point during the summer — usually around mid-July — our sweet babies turned into angry teenagers. The quick spikes in growth were replaced by wilting leaves and blossom end rot. It was as though each plant was saying to my face, “I will hate you for as long as I live!” Our hopes for a tomato-filled future were dashed.

The heartache simply grew too much, and so a few years back, the other Michael declared that we were done.

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