Taste of Summer – Jersey Tomatoes


Cape May, NJ – For a couple of weeks every August, we eat tomatoes. Lots of them.  One day, they’re hard and inedible. Overnight, it seems, the kitchen counter runneth over with the bounty of multicolored heirloom varieties.  These are not your standard, supermarket reds.

Indeed, Garden Partner grows very few red tomatoes. Instead, he favors purple tinged Black Krims, striped Green Zebras and pink Arkansas Travelers.

Our go to dish is the classic caprese salad – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. If we’re lucky, our Cape May garden usually is bursting with basil of all colors at the same time that the tomatoes ripen.


What could be more satisfying than the whiff of freshly cut basil mixed with the aroma of ripe tomatoes?

Perhaps the scent of garlic.

When the tomatoes threaten to take over the kitchen, I turn the caprese salad ingredients into an uncooked pasta sauce.

Just toss some cut up, ripe tomatoes, some garlic, some basil and mozzarella (or brie if you’re feeling decadent) with a good amount of olive oil and let the fragrant mixture marinate in a bowl for an hour or two.


The recipe hails from New York, not Cape May.

I had just moved to New York City many years ago, and Bonnie, a friend of mine, gave me a copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook as a welcoming gift.  She went to the trouble of starring certain recipes that she loved. This was one of them.

I’ve been tossing linguine (whole wheat these days) with the fresh tomato sauce ever since.

And every year, the powerful aroma and taste of that simple, heirloom tomato and basil sauce remind me not only of bountiful Augusts in our Cape May garden, but also of the streets of New York and old friends.



FYI:  Tomato Lovers take note: the West Cape May Tomato Festival takes place  Saturday, August 31 at Wilbraham Park on Broadway  from 9AM to 5PM.

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak is a journalist, a gardener and a Cape Island resident. She's also Cape May Times' photographer. She founded Cape May Times after a long and lively career in TV news.