Nothing tastes like summer quite like a fresh, home-grown tomato. In fact, I embark on a tomato sandwich diet each summer. While I’m still patiently waiting for my own garden plants to get ripe enough for picking, I’m enjoying the vegetables from my CSA share each week (and of course, our locally-sourced café ingredients).

Good tomatoes don’t need to be dressed up to be delicious. But, it can be difficult to source really great tomatoes – just another benefit of buying local produce and knowing your farmer. Unfortunately, most tomatoes that you find in chain grocery stores are there because they survived the journey; they were the toughest and able to maintain nice color and shape in transit. Tomatoes bred for shape, color, or endurance don’t always have the best flavor.

Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, whose recipes are featured in our café this month as part of our ongoing chef series, understands that delicious produce offers complex flavors. When you take the time to find quality ingredients, they shine on their own, without too much fuss.

Below, we share the Hastings’ recipe for Sliced Ruskin Tomatoes with Basil and Goat Cheese (reprinted from Hot and Hot Fish Club). Just a few ingredients are needed to create this delicious, simple dish. Recreate in your home kitchen (we recommend using Belle Chevre goat cheese), or stop by The Factory Café this week for a serving.



Ruskin is an agricultural town in Florida, not far from Tampa. It is known for its first of the season tomatoes in May, which we purchase from our friend Mike at Sun-Up Produce. These tomatoes are worth the extra effort to source, but if they are unavailable in your area, any ripe, local or heirloom tomato can be substituted.

Yield: 6 Servings

6 large ripe red tomatoes, about 3 pounds
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sliced basil leaves, about ¼-inch-thick slices
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Core the tomatoes and slice them into ½-inch-thick slices. Season the tomatoes on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on a large serving platter and sprinkle with basil. Crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

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