If you ever need to convince a conventional-produce shopper that local, seasonal, and organic are the way to eat, just mention tomatoes. Not even superstore diehards can deny that a vine-ripened tomato from the garden or a nearby farm is exponentially better than the mealy red things found in a supermarket.
Tomatoes are the poster children for another produce trend as well: heirloom fruits and vegetables. Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Brandywine, and Ox Heart tomatoes are among the more popular heirloom varieties (from nonhybridized seeds that have been saved, shared, and passed down for generations) on farmers' market stands. Now, there are hundreds--maybe thousands--of heirloom varieties available to inspire cooks and gardeners to go beyond hybridized red tomatoes.
Speaking of inspiration, the recipes featured here are full of flavorful twists and tempting toppings that let the tomatoes' unique flavors shine through--and are anything but conventional.