Summer Joy: Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

Bowl of Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

With August waiting in the wings, we’re approaching the “dog days” of summer. It’s too blessed hot to do anything outside, and I have all the energy of an old hound dog flopped on the front porch. Only one thing perks me up these days — vine-ripened tomatoes. Oh, man! Better than ice cream, blackberry cobbler, and fresh-squeezed lemonade, these ruby beauties define summer joy in my book.

As we were driving home from our annual retreat in the Wyoming mountains this month, I was dreading the return to Missouri heat and humidity. And then I remembered tomatoes. We’d be home just in time for peak season, and that was enough to console me.

Right away, I headed to the farmer’s market and bought a big flat of these beauties. I had salsa on my brain, but first I needed — and I do mean needed — a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Crunchy bacon, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, and a sweet, juicy tomato on toast…no better summer supper than that, friends. Throw in some cantaloupe chunks, and you’ve got yourself a gourmet meal.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, salsa. My friend, Annette, shared a roasted salsa recipe with me long ago, and I’ve tweaked it to fit my taste over the years. If you’re one who approaches every recipe with precision measuring, maybe let yourself go a little crazy on this one. Salsa is a little more Willow than Karen, if you know what I mean. 🙂 Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Salsa Recipe

If you’re wondering, “elephant garlic” is a large garlic variety that has a milder flavor. I like the mellower taste, and it’s also a lot easier to peel. I find it at my local farmer’s market, but I don’t recall ever seeing it in the grocery store. Of course, you can always substitute regular garlic. Just play around with the quantity until you find perfection.

Here’s what mine looked like at various stages of the process. It’s possible I went a little nuts on quantities…this is a double recipe. My largest bowl was just barely big enough!

Roasted Salsa - after roasting
Bowl of salsa, ready for processing

You’ll notice that the salsa separates a bit in the jar. No worries. Just give it a stir when you open it. I use a combination of pint and half-pint jars, because most of the time I cook for two people and one doesn’t like salsa!

Canned salsa

My final vine-ripened tomato obsession is Caprese salad, or as I like to call it, “working lunch.” Is anything more heavenly than fresh mozzarella cheese, juicy tomato slices, and fresh basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar? Emphatically, no. Truly, heaven on a plate.

Caprese Salad

I hope I’ve given you reason to embrace the dog days of summer. If vine-ripened tomatoes won’t do it for you, well, I’m so sorry! What are your favorite end-of-summer delights? Share them with me in the comments!


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  1. I am 100% with you on vine-ripened tomatoes, Aileen! I also agree that the BLT is the absolute best way to showcase them. One of my silver linings for not spending our summer in Michigan and staying home in 100+ degrees-every-single-day Florida was that I would grow some tomatoes. I didn’t have quite the successful crop I was hoping for, but…the ones I did harvest were SO delicious. I will try again next summer–it’s totally worth it! My sister and I forayed a bit into the world of canning this summer, making an old family recipe for pepper relish. I’m anxious to give your salsa recipe a try!

    1. Julie, I can only imagine how much you are missing the Michigan weather this summer! I love the IDEA of growing my own tomatoes, but I’ve never had much luck with it. Thank goodness for the farmer’s market! How fun that you and your sister are canning together! My sister and I used to help Mom with her canning in her later years. Such sweet memories…wish I would have paid more attention and really learned how to do it! Let me know how you like the salsa recipe!

  2. Love this! I just made my salsa yesterday afternoon- pretty much the same recipe. It might be that we have the same recipe from the same friend 😉. But I didn’t can any – we ate some for supper (with the obligatory margarita) and froze one jar to enjoy later.

    1. Patty, yes, I’m pretty sure we do have the same recipe from the same friend! 🙂 As I recall, she is not a cilantro fan, so that’s one of the key tweaks I made to her recipe. I put lots of cilantro in mine! I love cooking recipes I’ve collected from friends through the years. The reminder of sweet friendships is as enjoyable as the food. Let’s dip another chip in honor of Annette!

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