The other day I bought an 'heirloom' tomato grown a few hundred miles away in the Central Valley of California. I know it's only June and the truly homegrown tomatoes aren't in season yet, but I've been really craving a fresh tomato for my salads. Also, I was curious if it would turn out to taste as good as it looked. So I brought it home and sliced it into a green salad and of course it was disappointing. Not that it was horrible, but it wasn't great. The flavor was so-so and the texture a little too soft and mealy. I should have gone with the strawberries.
What, strawberries instead of tomatoes? Yes! Actually any fresh, in-season fruit makes a great tomato substitute until the real things are ready. Of course, we all know by now that tomatoes are actually a fruit, so this makes sense. In texture, sweet-to-tart ratio, juiciness and color, many fruits are excellent stand-ins for fresh tomatoes, especially in salads and on sandwiches.
Right now, strawberries are your best bet, as well as some of the other early summer fruits like cherries, apricots and figs. Berries like blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are also a fantastic addition. As we get closer to July, depending on where you live, you can start adding stone fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines. Heaven!
So rather than slicing up some wan, pallid, out-of-season tomato for your early summer salads or sandwiches, toss in a handful of fresh, delicious fruit. You will not be disappointed!