Ohhh! Les Tomates!

I went a little crazy this year and ended up with 82 tomato plants. They are just beginning to come in now, and I believe that one NEVER has too many tomatoes. Should there be more than I can deal with, I quarter and freeze them, variety by variety, and cook them up later for multicolored sauces. Many of  my plants did not make it this spring, with too much rain and not enough sun. But there will be plenty to see us through to October. Current high performers include my favorites:  Green Zebra, the bright orange Valencia, Ida Gold and Coeur de Boeuf Orange, the yellow Jaune Saint Vincent and Banana Leg, the fabulous Ananas, Striped Germain and Tigerella, and the always productive Russe. A new and interesting heirloom is the white Beauté Blanche de Canada, a large tomato with ivory skin and pulp and mildly acidic flavor. I confess that I am nearly breathless with excitement when I can slice multicolored varieties and arrange them on a giant white platter, season them with my homemade Fennel and Saffron Salt and sit down to lunch, with a fat slice of my toasted homemade sourdough bread. I hope you enjoy the salt:  saffron, fennel and tomatoes seem to love one another's company.


Once you try this on a simple fresh tomato salad, you will be sold! Fennel, saffron and tomatoes make a perfect trio. Keep the salt on hand for anytime you want to add sunny flavors. I use the less expensive ground saffron here. Once the salt dissolves, the saffron bleeds a golden, reddish orange hue.

A pinch of ground saffron

3 tablespoons fine sea salt

2 tablespoons fennel seed

Combine the ingredients in a spice grinder, grinding until the fennel seeds are very fine. Transfer to a small jar. Cover and shake to blend.  Store securely covered to maintain freshness. The mixture will stay fresh for several months.

5 tablespoons flavored salt