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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

Celebrate summer with vibrant heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella.

heirloom tomato pizza with fresh basil
Use a ready-made pizza crust and you can have this Heirloom Tomato Pizza on the dinner table in less than 45 minutes.

When I started this website almost a year ago, I researched the top comfort food recipes; pizza was at the top of many lists. I’d rank pizza in my Top 10, and I will bet you would, too.

That’s why I had to include a summer pizza recipe this month, and I have to say, this one using heirloom tomatoes is a winner. I hope you'll give it a try.

What are heirloom tomatoes? As their name suggests, they’re older varieties of the fruit grown from seeds that have been saved and passed down through generations. These tomatoes are nearly identical to their ancestors that might go back one or two hundred years. In addition, heirloom plants use open pollination in growing cycles, allowing nature to do the work.

By comparison, many tomatoes bought at the supermarkets or farmers markets are hybrids that have been intentionally crossbred to achieve certain characteristics (and it's not always for the best flavor.)

Heirloom tomatoes can be red but also boast stunning colors (like black, purple or yellow), shapes and sizes. Often they have more intense flavors. A summertime heirloom tomato salad, maybe with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, is an exquisite taste of the season.

However, these beauties are not always easy to find. You’d likely get them at a farmers market or a specialty grocer such as Whole Foods. In St. Louis, Extra Virgin An Olive Ovation, a specialty food store that specializes in fine olive oils and vinegars, has heirlooms from a local grower. Finally, because an heirloom plant often produces less fruit, this type of tomato will be more expensive.

It's best to keep heirloom tomatoes on your kitchen counter until you use them, but don't leave them for long. (Believe me, you'll want to dig in.) Naturally, any uneaten portions should be stored in a container and put in the fridge. For more tomato-storing tips, check out this article.

For this Heirloom Tomato Pizza recipe, you’ll need:

  • large tomato and 5 or 6 cocktail size tomatoes

  • tomato sauce

  • buffalo mozzarella

  • ricotta cheese

  • fresh basil

  • large pizza shell

You could swap out tomato sauce with creme fraiche mixed with a few tablespoons of pesto. I also added six meatballs (either homemade or frozen), which I sliced in half. And if you just can't get your hands on an heirloom, this recipe would work with a beefy hybrid tomato from your garden or the farmers market.

If you choose to make your pizza dough, Bob’s Red Mill Flour has a good guide. The large Boboli crust worked well for me; it held up under the weight of tomatoes and meatballs. Some local pizzerias also sell dough you can take home for pizza night.

There is a good amount of moisture in a juicy tomato, so after slicing, I sprinkled salt on each slice and placed them between paper towels, leaving them to sit about 30 minutes before assembling the pizza.

Getting back to the heirloom varieties, gardeners should get to know Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Located about an hour east of Springfield, Missouri, the farm and pioneer village is open during the week. The website and free catalog showcase the wonderful variety of rare seeds that create outstanding varieties of plants. Tomato varieties include blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow and striped. Cherry and grape tomatoes also come in a variety of shapes and colors. Remember Baker Creek when you’re planning your gardens.

Tomatoes are the jewels of summer produce, and when we can eat them in season (honestly, is anything more sad than a winter tomato), it’s one of nature’s greatest gifts to us.


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