I went in the kitchen today to make a pasta salad and as I grabbed the vine to twist off a tomato, the scent of the vine hit me. It’s a lovely smell only vine-ripe tomatoes have, and one that takes me back to my childhood. Tomatoes hold a special place in my heart. I’ve always loved the smell of them, that earthy, tangy scent of the tomato, and with it the sharp, prickly, piney smell of the vine. My grandparents grew the juiciest, ripest, most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted. I remember when I was little and the tomatoes towered over me, it was like a forest of vines I loved to explore. I would sit impatiently on my grandmother’s lap on the porch as she curled my hair with her fingers, then I would take off running into the tomato patch, weaving in and out as the leaves tangled my curly hair.
I would often grab the tomatoes by their vines and I loved the earthy green smell they left on my hands. In the kitchen there was always a bowl of fresh picked tomatoes on the table which we enjoyed with every meal. At breakfast I liked to pile slices of tomato on a biscuit, covered with gravy and topped with an egg, at lunchtime, thick salted slices of tomato on a BLT, and at dinner time alongside fried chicken, fried sweet corn, hot-water cornbread, green beans, and turnip greens that had simmered all afternoon. I can remember the smells as if it were only yesterday.
Pasta of your choice
A couple handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes
Small can of black olives
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oreagano
sprinkle of dried parsley
drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan reggiano
Cook the pasta as instructed. While the pasta is cooking, slice the tomatoes and olives in half and put them in a bowl. Slice the pepperoncinis in chunks and add to the bowl. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. When the past is done, rinse and add to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Add the dried parsley and freshly grated parmesan reggiano. Toss and immediately serve. This salad is also good as a cold salad.