Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Equinox: Tomato, Avocado and Cilantro Pesto

Tomato Picture

Last night, the end of the Autumnal equinox, we feasted on tomatoes. Among the decay of my backyard full of withering vines, Mike and I enjoyed a bottle of rose and ate another September tomato salad. While many other cooks celebrate the coming of fall with pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, or some other late harvest crop, for me, there is no better way to celebrate the end of summer than to revel in its glory.

I've talked about our small urban garden a few times during this growing season. Finally, I've successfully grown more than herbs. Cucumbers, peppers, raspberries, and green beans, have been among our "crops." But nothing has made me more proud than our glorious heirloom tomato plant. Carefully tended, watered, and shrouded with screen after the first tomato was pecked by birds, the giant fruit started to redden in early September. Each of the orbs weighing at least a pound has fed us well providing several days of tomato enjoyment.

Back in May, we ate day after day of asparagus, roasted, grilled, and sauteed, until it disappeared from the market, replaced by the remainder of summer's fill. And so, I find it mildly comforting, that I ended the growing season in the same manner that I began it, gorging myself on the season's best.

My seasonal indulgences remind me of a Emily Dickinson quote that I cannot find. In essence, she told us that only by enduring scarcity, can we fully appreciate plenty.(Interesting how words can be ephemeral, but concepts timeless.) We soon come to the end of our eating cycle, about to enter into the days of root vegetables and bitter greens. I love those days too, and when I tire of my diet of underground dwellers, I'll comfort myself with the thought of stalks of asparagus shooting from the spring earth and later vines heavy with red tomatoes. But until the bitter end, I'll continue to gorge myself on my tomato salads, including this, my favorite: Tomato, Avocado and Red Onion Salad with Cilantro Pesto


Tomato, Avocado and Red Onion Salad with Cilantro Pesto
Serves 2-4

1 large heirloom tomato, sliced 1/3-inch thick
1 avocado, sliced 1/4-inch
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small bunch cilantro
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
kosher salt

Puree the last five ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Intersperse the tomato, avocado and red onion on a platter. Dab the salad with gobs of cilantro pesto (you'll have extra of this, you can either save it for remaining tomato salads or freeze it for the dark winter months).


  1. The weather's still too nice and warm for pumpkin (although, I'm digging the apples). I love holding onto summer's flavors as long as possible. Thanks for sharing this delecious recipe - my tomato plant didn't fair so well, but the farmers at the markets still have a few left! Can't wait to try the salad myself.

  2. Steven,

    Thanks for stopping by. I shouldn't have spoken so soon. I woke up this morning to find that one of my last two tomatoes was swiped by some sort of varmint. At least, I saved one more. The remaining ones are obviously destined to be served green.

    Hope you enjoy the recipe - it's one that I turn to year after year.


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