I came home one day not long ago to discover that one of the lower branches of my Stupice tomato plant was drooping more than usual. It had a fat cluster of seven tomatoes growing on the end of it, so I tried to stake the branch.
But it did not take me long to realize the branch was going to have to come off completely—it had split from the main stem of the plant, and was only hanging on by a small piece at the bottom of the connection point. Even the most talented Band-aid approach was not going to make a difference.
I removed the branch carefully, harvested the green tomatoes, and then tried to figure out what to do with them. While the cluster was mighty, the tomatoes themselves were fairly small. Battering them and frying them up was going to be tedious—it would be a lot of tiny, irritating slices. I’m more a fan of the big, thick fried green tomatoes.
Plus, while I love fried green tomatoes, there is the issue of whether it’s particularly healthy to eat as many of them as I would have to eat to dispatch with this inadvertent harvest.
I remembered great success cooking them up in various dishes at the end of the season last year, and realized I had some apricots in my refrigerator that needed to be used up. My chef-y brain kicked into gear, and I thought back to Kalyn’s inspired caprese salad with apricots from last summer. Could I sauté the green tomatoes with the apricots and make some magic?
I layered a bowl with fresh mozzarella, then topped the cheese with a layer of basil. My plan? To cook up the tomatoes and apricots and let the heat from the just-cooked fruits melt the cheese and wilt the basil. The combination worked just as I’d hoped, and drizzled with a little olive oil and fabulous balsamic, provided me with a tangy-sweet, creamy-salty lunch that fired up my taste buds.
I’ve offered some suggested proportions of ingredients below, adjusted to serve four, but this is one where a free hand with the various ingredients would work well. Use as many green tomatoes and apricots as you have—I promise the proportion will be delicious no matter what!
Four large green tomatoes
Four ripe apricots
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
1 c. torn fresh basil leaves
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (use the good stuff…it makes all the difference)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the fresh mozzarella, divide it into four parts, and place it on the bottom of four wide, shallow bowls or plates.
- Divide the basil evenly among the bowls or plates, layering the torn leaves on top of the mozzarella.
- Chop the tomatoes and apricots into similar-sized chunks.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green tomatoes and sauté until they’re starting to brown, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the apricots, and sauté the tomato-apricot mixture for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the fruit is soft and starting to caramelize.
- Layer the hot tomato-apricot mixture on top of the basil and mozzarella, dividing it evenly among the four plates.
- Drizzle each plate with a Tbsp of very high quality balsamic vinegar and a ½ Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.