This Tomato and Mozzarella Appetizer is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bushel Boy Tomatoes. The opinions and text are all mine, always and forever. Find our full disclosure here.
The passion and love that Bushel Boy™ has for growing tomatoes struck me in between the eyes...in a good way. I walked out of the tour, that day, with even more determination to continue to buy and use the Bushel Boy tomatoes simply because I knew their product would be the best. The company wouldn't let it be anything but.
Most Midwest tomatoes are grown in Mexico or Canada, picked while green, and allowed to ripen while being shipped in trucks. They do not ripen on the vine. Whoa!
Bushel Boy tomatoes are picked red and ripe and shipped straight to the stores to be purchased by us, the consumer. Because they continue to pull nutrients from the vine, the tomatoes stay fresh on the shelves and our counters longer. This compares to a 50-75% increase in decay that those tomatoes not sold on the vine experience. Again...whoa! Mind blown.
Their tomatoes are grown hydroponically...in water. And up. Up, up, up!
We walked through acres and acres of greenhouses full of tomato plants. It felt like a jungle! They train the tomato plants to grow up, to produce fruit in clusters of 3 and 4 (because that is what the consumer wants),
Steve, our Bushel Boy tour guide, showed us the in's and out's of this impressive operation. His passion and knowledge was impressive and, frankly, inspiring. Any company that shows the level of love and care for their product that Bushel Boy does has my business! For surely.
I was impressed and astonished and the marriage of people-power and technology that the Bushel Boy greenhouses have. They have state-of-the-art equipment to help them monitor humidity, temperature, and more. And yet rely on human hands (they employ 80 workers!) to pick tomatoes, train the plants, and care for the plants. It was a great example of caring more about what works best than what may be fastest.
I mean, come on! There was acres and acres of rows and rows just like this. Incredible!
The three things Steve told us was important to the quality of tomatoes (and ironically, wine :)) are:
- The variety of seed.
Bushel Boy uses a seed that, as far as they know, no other company is using. Fun fact that I appreciate...it's an oldie but goodie seed. Meaning, vintage. Meaning, your grandma probably used it. How cool is that! Back to our roots, people.
- Acidity level.
- Sugar levels.
This is another reason that picking the fruit when it is red is important...the sugar levels can develop. If you pick the tomatoes when they are green the sugar leves do not develop fully. Red and ripe is the way to go!
Another great example of their understanding of what works best...bees. Bushel Boy employs bees (for pollination) and bugs (for pest control) to do what they do best...help tomato plants thrive. They have many, many bees that are in the greenhouses for the purpose of pollination. Something which bees are uniquely qualified for :). It's great to see the juxtaposition of the beehives with the mechanical, computer powered louvered windows and screens!
Bushel Boy produces two main kinds of tomatoes:
- Bubba tomatoes
These are from the Rebelski seed and account for about 30% of their sales. These tomatoes are the beef steaks, the big ones you would slice for hamburgers and tomatoes. My personal faves.
- Vine-on | Cluster tomatoes
These are from the Brilliant seed and account for the other 70% of their sales. These tomatoes I use most often in my sauces, pasta dishes, and salads.
There isn't waste. They use the plant waste in the compost for the plants, they recycle the water into huge vats to be re-used in watering, and they donate "not-perfect" tomatoes to local food banks.
Chemicals? No, with the use of bugs, bees, and a controlled environment, Bushel Boy is able to greatly reduce any need for pesticides or the like. They rarely have a need for any type of product on their plants. Their natural nutrients and "helpers" do the job for them.
Red & Ripe, "helpers" and natural nutrients, social helpers and environment conscious, and delicious tomatoes...this is a company I want to support. Give me all the tomatoes!
Those of you in the Midwest...buy Bushel Boy. I can't encourage you enough or impress upon you enough the quality and love this company has for what they do. I know that they are producing a great product with thoughtfulness to the world around them and the impact they have on it. If they weren't...Steve would quit. :0.
And now, let's make something tasty with these delicious tomatoes...
Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Appetizer:
- 6 vine-on Bushel Boy tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Slice the tomatoes in half.
- Lightly toss the tomatoes in olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Top with the mozzarella cheese, dividing the cheese evenly amongst all the tomatoes.
- Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
This recipe is simple, easy, and takes only a few ingredients. It is also highly customizable! Some suggestions to change it up:
- Pizza Tomatoes. Simply add pepperoni and a bit of oregano and you have mini pizza's kids love!
- Gourmet cheese. Try gourmet cheeses instead of the mozzarella for a "fancier" appetizer.
- Pesto Mozza Roasted Tomatoes. Spread your favorite pesto on the tomatoes before adding the cheese...delicious!
- Veggie boats. Scoop out the center of the tomatoes, a bit, to make room for some additional veggies. Try mushrooms, green onions, and zucchini. Your tomato will act as a vessel. Just be sure you choose veggies that will cook in the 25 minute roasting time.
- Caprese Roasted Tomatoes. Add a layer of basil before your mozzarella cheese, roast the tomato, and then drizzle the cooked tomato with a bit of balsamic vinegar. Yum!
Other tomato recipes to try: