My favorite way to use them is in a “tomato tasting” salad: Assemble as many varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes of very ripe tomatoes as you can find. Choose a few different “cuts” for variety; for example, cut small yellow pears in half lengthwise to reveal their curves, big beefsteaks in large rectangular chunks, small ridged ones crosswise in thick slices, and some of different colors in small wedges. Arrange them in groups on a long shallow platter and season generously with salt, fresh pepper, and olive oil. As your guests hover expectantly, let the tomatoes sit for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Serve with a spoon for the juices.
My dad, Vince, prefers his tomatoes in big rounds, seasoned generously with sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and layered on top with thinly sliced red onion, a good quantity of olive oil, and a little red wine vinegar, with bruised fresh oregano leaves strewn over the top. With the tomatoes, Vince serves a grilled flank steak that he has marinated in spicy mustard since morning.
Reprinted from the book Cooking in the Moment, copyright © 2011 by Andrea Reusing. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.