It's harvest season! Try marinating tomatoes for seriously good flavor

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Let's get this out of the way right now: I'm not sad summer is ending. It's harvest season!

Right now at your farmers market, you'll find mid-summer fruit and vegetables next to later-season stuff like corn, all sorts of peppers, potatoes, and so on. It's serious cornucopia time and, in my opinion, it's the best time of year to be cooking at home. Your local farmers market is the best it's going to be right now — make sure to go and get interesting new things to cook before the leaves really turn.

It's also peak tomato season, which is where our attention turns for this column. Fresh garden tomatoes are jewels in the calendar. I'm a big heirloom grower — I usually have at least five or six different varieties ranging from Big Rainbow to Black Krim. I look forward to them all year long, dreaming about all kinds of complicated recipes, and then I usually just eat them minimally dressed to enjoy their amazing flavor, texture and glowing colors.

My favorite thing to do as of late has been to marinate them in olive oil, salt, pepper and other ingredients, depending on what vibe I'm going for. Over the weekend, I used tomato and cucumber marinated in this olive oil mix plus harissa powder on a garlic naan wrap with turkey meatballs and herby yogurt. It was fresh, bright and exactly the kind of thing to be eating right now, easy prep and easy assembly. The full recipe for that is below, but if you're only going to cook one thing, make it these tomatoes.

Marinated tomatoes (and cukes!) for everyone

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound or more of fresh garden tomatoes, plus other garden bounty like cucumbers, peppers, etc.

Ample salt and pepper — at least 1 teaspoon (you need the salt to make the magic happen)

A glug of olive oil

Your own cool seasonings! Try some of these templates:

- Classic — chopped up basil and oregano (add truffle powder as well for heaven on earth)

- Middle Eastern — some coriander and harissa powders

- Salsa — a dash of cumin and chopped cilantro

- Herb medley — whatever you got (try to avoid "sticky" herbs like rosemary, which may impart too much flavor)

DIRECTIONS:

Chop tomatoes and veggies and place into large bowl with salt, pepper, olive oil and anything else you want to add. Stir well, then cover and let sit at room temperature (not refrigerated) at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. Enjoy on its own, as a garnish or side salad, with a fried egg, with fresh slices of mozzarella, stuffed into a pita ... you get the idea.

Spiced turkey meatballs

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound ground turkey

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Ample salt — one good pinch or around 3/4 teaspoon

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 egg

DIRECTIONS:

Mix spices, egg, and bread crumbs with turkey until homogenous. Form into 12 meatballs, then chill 30 minutes to an hour.

To cook, heat a large saucepan with a cover to medium-high. Add grapeseed or other neutral oil. When oil is hot, place meatballs in, then cover pan for 5 minutes. When meatballs loosen easily, flip over, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Finish with the top off for two minutes or so to get excess water out of pan.

Savory yogurts

Where was I without this ultimate condiment? I've been making this all summer in many ways.

DIRECTIONS:

Take one container of plain Greek yogurt and add a small handful of chopped herbs, salt and pepper, a little lemon zest, or 1 teaspoon interesting spices (harissa, za'atar, etc), a splash of sesame or olive oil or tahini, and mix thoroughly.

You can also dilute this to your preference — use water or milk instead of oil to cut the fat and keep this as a light, cool accent to whatever you're serving.


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