DC’s Tastiest Tomato

Preparing Marguerite's cherry tomatoes for judging
Preparing Marguerite’s cherry tomatoes for judging

We held the Tastiest Tomato Contest this past Saturday at Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, before the main Fair on September 22 because DC-grown tomatoes will be in shorter supply then. Although it was a wonderful day engaging folks about the Fair and having them sample a delicious, tomato-y fattoush salad we made, the Tastiest Tomato Contest is a perfect example of “80% of success is showing up.

Tastiest Tomato judges Ibti Vincent (from left), Carol Blymire, and Kathy Jentz
Tastiest Tomato judges Ibti Vincent (from left), Carol Blymire, and Kathy Jentz

A lot of tomato growers in DC had troubles with their plants this year, and many more think their produce wouldn’t be able to stack up against others’. A few growers, however, got past those worries and made it to the contest with their tomatoes to compete. I even brought some toms from my garden to display as well, and they ended up being judged when only a few gardeners were brave enough to come out to compete. Although my ‘Sungold’ scored the most points from the judges (Ibti Vincent of Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, food blogger and author Carol Blymire, and Washington Gardener editor Kathy Jentz), John Andreoni’s yellow ‘Tomato Taxi’ tomatoes were right behind and a judge favorite. He walked home with a one-year subscription to DC’s only local gardening magazine, Washington Gardener; the $10 first-place prize; and a shiny ribbon to display his tomato prowess. DC Gardener Marguerite Pridgen nabbed the third-place ribbon and a cash prize for her tasty cherry tomato.

Winner John Andreoni with his 'Tomato Taxi' tomato
Winner John Andreoni with his ‘Tomato Taxi’ tomato
After judging, the public got the chance to sample the best of DC's homegrown tomatoes
After judging, the public got the chance to sample the best of DC’s homegrown tomatoes

After the judging, I wandered around the market to get some fresh produce from the market vendors to make fattoush, a Middle Eastern salad, for market shoppers to sample.

Making fattoush for the market shoppers
Making fattoush for the market shoppers

Fattoush is a very flexible salad, with a bunch of fresh summer vegetables (including tomato!), crunchy toasted or stale pita, a lemon-olive oil dressing, and sumac or zataar seasoning. (I didn’t have sumac [which is an important ingredient in zataar as well], so I made my own zataar and substituted lemon peel and extra salt for the sumac.) Here’s the recipe:

(Adapted from a recipe on FoodNetwork.com)

2 cups shredded, crunchy lettuce
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, small dice
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley, leaves only, no stems
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, no stems
1/2 to 1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon sumac
2 pieces of pita bread toasted until golden brown, broken into pieces the size of a quarter

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper

In a small bowl mix all dressing ingredients well. Put all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with 1/2 to 1 cup dressing. Serve immediately.

3 thoughts on “DC’s Tastiest Tomato

    1. I’m on a perpetual hunt for local sumac sources–I’ll try LTVs in the area (there’s one in Woodley Park). I stumbled across a Middle Eastern grocer while on a drive west through Virginia and picked up tons of sumac–but it’d be better if it were more accessible in DC!

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