Though I don't love the heat, August is one of my favorite months of the year. Why? For one reason:

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!!!! At this time of year, the market is full of beautiful, extra-juicy tomatoes in all colors, shapes, and sizes–so ripe they are nearly bursting. It really makes it hard to eat tomatoes any other time of year when they taste so incredibly good right now. I love pureeing them with cucumber, onion, garlic and fresh herbs into a zippy gazpacho (more on that later), or simmering them slowly with garlic and onion into a fresh tomato sauce. But perhaps my favorite way to eat them is in a Caprese salad: simply sliced, layered with fresh buffalo mozzarella, torn basil, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Last September, the day before my wedding, a couple of friends and I trekked over to the Farmer's Market (on foot!) and picked up several crates of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that would later go into a Caprese salad for the wedding dinner. Though I could have just entrusted our caterer to buy the tomatoes, I was obsessed with the idea of having the freshest, funkiest tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. Otherwise, what's the point of an heirloom tomato salad? (Note: It was definitely worth the effort.)

My other favorite way to eat tomatoes is–as shown in the picture below-sandwiched between airy ciabatta (from Amy's Bread) and pressed on a panini grill.

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. I added a little prosciutto, pressed it for 3 to 4 minutes until the bread was crisp and the cheese oozy, and voila! A beautiful lunch that can only be enjoyed for a few more weeks. And while you're at it, you might as well pour a glass of rose since that, too, is fleeting...

Panini Done[recipe:best-heirloom-tomato-panini-prosciutto-mozzarella-basil-recipe]