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Magic Ingredient: Tomatoes

These aren’t your grandma’s heirlooms.

July marks the beginning of sun-ripened, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. Now is the time for dishes highlighting the fruit’s natural sweetness: fresh tomato tarts, salsas, summer salads, and quick-cooked pasta sauces.

Look beyond the common Red Beefsteak or oval-shaped Roma to the countless heirloom (non-hybrid) varieties that never make it to a grocery store. Guy Borden, owner of Borden Farm in Delta, grows some 7,000 tomato plants on his 14-acre farm, including heirlooms like Pruden’s Purple, Striped German, Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, and Yellow Pear. He fancies heirlooms because “they tend to be sweeter, not nearly as acidic as you might find in some tomatoes.” If you can, stop at a farmers’ market and pick up some heirloom cherry tomatoes for this ravioli with roasted tomatoes and arugula, adapted from a recipe by chef William Chenworth of Boulder’s Restaurant 4580.

RECIPE: Ravioli with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula (Serves 4)

Preheat oven to 450°. Place tomato halves on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft and brown in places, about 20 minutes. Prepare ravioli according to package directions, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water, and set aside. In a large sauté pan, sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil. Add 1/4 cup cooking water and arugula, and stir over medium heat until wilted, adding more water as necessary to help wilt the greens. Gently stir in roasted tomatoes and ravioli until all ingredients are warm. Add fresh basil, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

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