A southern staple of summer, tomatoes, in a rainbow of colors — from red to orange to yellow to green to purple — and variety of tastes — from sweet to acidic to savory, will tantalize taste buds at the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market.

“It’s beautiful. The tomatoes are really starting to come in right now. It looks like it’s going to be a great year for tomatoes,” market manager Elizabeth Thompson said.

Local farmers — and eaters — will celebrate the juicy fruit on Saturday at the market in downtown Decatur.

Tomato Sandwich Day will kick off at 9 a.m. with the market serving classic tomato sandwiches, complete with white bread, salt, pepper and mayonnaise, until noon or as long as supplies last.

In a column dedicated to the tomato, the late humorist Lewis Grizzard wrote about the sandwich: “First you need white bread. Never use any sort of bread other than soft, fresh white bread — hang the nutrition value — when constructing a tomato sandwich. To use any sort of other bread is a transgression equal to putting lights in Wrigley Field and putting mushrooms on cheeseburgers.”

Along with sandwiches, the event will feature food trucks and a tomato pie contest. Linda Motley, the reigning two-time tomato pie champion, will go for back-to-back-to-back wins.

“She is the woman to beat,” Thompson said.

The winner will receive $50. Each entry, which must feature homegrown tomatoes or tomatoes from the farmers market, costs $10. Participants need to register for the contest by Friday. A judging panel of Christy Wheat, Bill Harden and Regina Willingham will rate the dishes on originality, taste and presentation. Judging will begin at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Get a head start on celebrating the succulent tomato with a tasting event at the farmers market tonight. During the free event hosted by Mike Reeves and Allyson Shabel with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, guests will sample homegrown tomatoes and learn about variables that affect the taste. The 6 p.m. event is free. Reserve a spot by calling 256-476-5595. Guests also are welcome to bring their own tomatoes to share.

While at the market, make sure to pick up a container of tomatoes and try out these recipes from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Strawberry-Tomato Gazpacho

16 large strawberries

5 small vine ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cucumber, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

½ bunch mint, chopped

2 limes, juiced

3 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish

2 ounces goat cheese, softened

2 limes, zested

1 teaspoon black pepper

Place strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, jalapenos, mint, limes and honey into blender. Puree until smooth. Pour soup into large bowl. Set into an ice bath. Chill soup 1 hour. Stir and season. Place goat cheese, lime zest and pepper into small bowl, stir together. Ladle soup into each bowl, top with small dollop of prepared goat cheese and strips of fresh mint leaves.

Tomato Mozzarella Melts

Tomatoes

Kosher salt

Fresh mozzarella, sliced

Fresh basil, torn

Slice tomatoes into thick slices. Place in metal pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes or in 500 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and top with slices of mozzarella and basil. Return to oven for 2-4 more minutes or until cheese is fully melted. Serve warm.

Tomato Pie

1 frozen 9-inch deep dish pie shell

2 medium tomatoes

1 medium onion, sliced and sautéed

Salt and pepper to taste

6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Bake pie crust 6-7 minutes according to package directions until crust begins to brown. Place sliced tomatoes into crust and top with onions. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Top with crumbled bacon. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese. Spread mixture over bacon to cover completely. Bake in 400-degree oven for 25 minutes.

Tomato Salad

6 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped

1 medium cucumber, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Toss to combine. Sprinkle salad with salt and pepper and toss again. Add chopped cilantro and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Chill and serve.

cgodbey@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2441. Twitter @DecaturLiving.

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