It's that time of year when backyard gardeners are hauling in the last of their bounty of fruits and vegetables — and for Milad Khalil, there's nothing more exquisite than a nice ripe tomato.
"I grow these beautiful heirloom tomatoes. They're Italian tomatoes. I just take pride in them," said Khalil, the co-owner of Napoli's Café in Stittisville, in a recent interview with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
"A little bit of sea salt, a little bit of olive oil. And that's all you need."
If you've got more beefsteak or big boy tomatoes than you know what to do with, well, Khalil has a few tips.
'Room temperature, always'
First of all, whatever you do, do not eat them cold, out of the crisper.
"Who wants to have a tomato that's been in a fridge all day?" said Khalil. "Ideally, you want a tomato that's at room temperature, always."
If you're not preserving or canning them, there's always the option to freeze them as tomato paste, he says.
But he also has a zestier, more garlicky idea.
"I love fire-roasted tomatoes. Use a nice, hot wood-burning oven if you have access to one. You blister all the tomatoes, you get all that smoke. You get some roasted garlic into them. You make some fresh pasta," said Khalil. "You're golden. You're done."
If you don't have a wood-burning oven, you could also use your barbecue or smoker, said Khalil — or simply roast them in the oven.
"Blister the tomatoes, peel back the skin, mash them up, add some garlic to them, heat them up. Add some pasta and some oil. And it's beautiful."
And if you're trying to lay off the carbs?
"You can put them into a salsa. Or a salad. If you want to keep them raw there are a thousand ways to do it," said Khalil.
"One of my favourite salads is tomatoes with a nice buratta cheese. Add some white balsamic [vinegar]. A little bit of truffle salt goes a long way. Add some other vegetables. You're done."
Not relishing your green tomatoes?
If you've ended up with tomatoes that are stubbornly staying green, however, Khalil says don't despair.
"Just take them off. Put them in a paper bag … or just put them in the window and they'll be fine."
Or just leave them as is.
"I don't know about you, but I love fried green tomatoes," said Khalil, who simply dredges slices in buttermilk, flour and bread crumbs and then deep fries them.