Our patient wait for homegrown tomatoes is ending. Simple salads are a welcome way to consume this most-anticipated of harvests.

Help. Home-grown tomatoes soon will flood our tables. An easy solution is cut-tomato salads. These are as simple as dribbling Italian salad dressing over tomato slices. Of course, there’s more.

Bender’s Restaurant in Canton, Ohio, has made a summer tradition of beautiful, sliced tomatoes and dry Roquefort cheese. They are caressed with homemade vinegar and oil Italian dressing plus chopped onions, parsley and fresh basil.

The tart cheese turns tomato salad into an art form.

Feta cheese is not to be missed. Mediterranean salad dressing (below) combines flavors in a blender and is perfect over garden-fresh tomatoes. Don’t forget the marinated Kalamata olives on the side.

On cool days, try a hot-tomato appetizer. Slice tomatoes about 1/3-inch thick. Season lightly with Italian dressing. Place on an oiled baking sheet and top with a slice of white cheese, such as Monterey Jack or smoked mozzarella. Dust with a small amount of dried oregano. Run under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve on garlic bread slices, melba toast or lettuce.

Tomato flavor can be fleeting. Refrigeration kills it. Chilling can change the texture from smooth to grainy. Keep your tomatoes at room temperature for best quality.

If you grow tomatoes, keep them on the vine until ripe. Tomatoes will ripen off the vine, in a sunny window, but taste will suffer.

Check your plants daily for ripe ones. Picking tomatoes helps stimulate the plant to grow more.

MEDITERRANEAN TOMATOES

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon Dijon white-wine mustard
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried, or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
Tomatoes

Place everything but the tomatoes in a blender and puree. Dribble on sliced tomatoes and let stand 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with Greek Kalamata olives.

The Repository