A recent visit to the farmers’ market introduced me to hydroponic tomatoes and basil. It was the Shushan Valley Hydro-Farms’ first day at the market and one of the organizers walked me to their stall after I expressed disappointment that there were no vegetable vendors around. Sure it was a rainy day but a girl needs her vegetables!
I’ve only heard of the term hydroponic in relation to a certain addictive herb, so when the owners showed me a photo of their farm, I was intrigued. A variety of techniques exist in hydroponic gardening. Instead of soil containing silt and clay, mineral nutrient solutions are introduced to the plants’ water supply. Because plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water, soil is no longer required for the plants to thrive when the minerals are artifically added. Their tomatoes were happily plump and the basil leaves all had a nice shade of healthy green. I love the idea that I don’t have to wait for Mother Nature to make up her mind about the weather before I can buy tomatoes.
I bought a basil plant for less than $3, picked several of its leaves for this caprese recipe and three weeks later, it’s still thriving in a water-filled small plastic cup on my window sill. I can’t say the same for the tomatoes though; I bought five of them and they were all gone by next morning.
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
fresh mozarella, sliced
fresh basil leaves, thoroughly washed, patted dry, chiffonade
salt, pepper, olive oil
1. Arrange tomatoes and mozarella on a plate. Top with basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.