Unfussy Fare

Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing


It started as a quest for cherry pie. Tomatoes weren’t even on my radar. I”d been pondering that pie for weeks. I did a cartoonish double-take when my favorite cherry stand at the farmer”s market was GONE. Someone was selling artichokes there. “Cherries are done,” said the friendly artichoke guy in reply to my accusatory “Where are the cherries?” And that was that. Cherries just up and called it a season, without so much as a nod to me or my pie-making procrastination.

I tried to be zen about it. For everything there is a season, etc. But I was not zen. I was petulant. I wanted cherries.  In mid-pout it hit me: If the cherries are gone, then soon raspberries will be done. Then blueberries. And then tomatoes! Oh no, not the tomatoes!

I forgot all about dessert. After rocketing through the stages of grief, I frantically combed the farmers’ market for heirloom tomatoes. I found half a dozen varieties piled in a box at an unassuming little stand. No long lines or artfully stacked produce here, just some grubby boxes set on a folding table. The farmer called out the variety of each tomato I picked up like a proud father.

With their uneven curves and motley hues, I just knew these tomatoes would have personality. And they did. You might say it”s wrong to put such a rich dressing on a perfect slice of tomato, when a sprinkle of salt will do. But tomatoes and mayo are a match made in heaven. Ask any BLT. Throw in the kick of Roquefort and a hint of vinegar, and your tomatoes and mayo will sing in perfect, high-cholesterol harmony.

Use a light hand when dressing the tomatoes. Not for your health (although there is that to consider), but for your taste buds. The dressing is so irresistible you’ll be tempted to pour it on with wild abandon, obliterating your innocent heirlooms. Eat the dressing with a spoon if you must, but go easy on those tomatoes if you want to taste them.

Carpe diem. Let the cherry pie tragedy of 2009 serve as a reminder. Tomato season has come, and it will go. I adapted this recipe from one I found in Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten.  It makes a fine spread for the world’s best BLT, too.


serves 6

3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, plus some assorted cherry tomatoes
3 ounces Roquefort or other blue cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir blue cheese, mayo, vinegar, and cream together in a bowl. Smash the cheese with the back of the spoon as you mix, to blend it in. You want the dressing to be chunky, so leave some lumps of cheese.

Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes, and sprinkle with chopped tarragon.


12 Responses to “Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing”

  1. Derek Oslo says:

    Very nice. Do you plan on branching out from tomato recipes anytime soon?


  2. Pam Rokke says:

    Oh yum, Gill! This sounds fabulous and so easy. And I love your photos.

  3. Gillian says:

    Thanks! These pictures are of the actual tomatoes we took to Lisa and Cliff’s on Sunday.

  4. Gillian says:

    Okay, I’ve tried to reply to Derek three times now. I’ll feel a little silly if this reply appears four times. Still trying to figure out the software. What I was TRYING to say is yes. Much as I love them, I’m all done with tomatoes for the moment. Enough already with the tomatoes.

  5. Pamela Perry says:


  6. Becky A says:

    I love your blog, the photos, and the recipes! Since you are doing great things with tomatoes, does this mean I can count on you to help with my 5 plant crop if they actually progress beyond the green stage??? The cherry tomatoes are coming fast but the heirlooms are still holding out!

  7. Gillian says:

    Thanks, Becky. Yes, indeed. You can always count on me to help with your tomatoes. I’m also happy to photograph them for posterity.

  8. Lisa Belt says:

    We were, indeed, the lucky devourers of this fabulous tomato extravaganza. Delicioso!

  9. Just discovered your blog from Foodgawker—it’s darling! Great concept and photos, love your writing style too. Your reference to the “cherry pie tragedy of 2009″ cracked me up. Look forward to reading more of your work!

  10. Rosa says:

    So beautiful and delicious! That salad looks very flavorful!



  11. Gillian says:

    Thanks, Rosa. I was just admiring YOUR photo of heirloom tomatoes yesterday on foodgawker. It’s a mutual tomato-gawker admiration society. Your pictures stand out from the crowd.

  12. Gillian says:

    Sandie, thanks for the encouraging words! Do you have a blog I can visit?

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