That's Paul Robeson. He's not quite ripe yet, but when he is, the red parts will blush a deep, mahogany brown. He's a slicer, and he's delicious.
He's named for Paul Robeson the man, legendary African American opera singer, actor, civil rights activist, athlete, you name it. Paul's the guy who sang Old Man River. He's the guy who played Othello in the longest-running Shakespearean production in Broadway history. He was fluent in at least 15 languages! And he spent a lot of time in Russia.
The Paul Robeson tomato comes to the states from a Russian seed saver who wanted to pay homage to this great man. The tomato originates in the Siberian region of Russia, and it's absolutely delicious. I discovered it in my garden thanks to my friend Tracy Plaut, who gave us a few tomato seedlings this spring. It won first place for taste in the Carmel California TomatoFest a few years back for its perfect balance of acid and sweet, and it is an excellent slicer. It's good for sandwiches—my favorite is this bacon-avocado number—and in place of mango in this peachy, cilantro-laced salsa. It's also excellent tossed with basil and feta over warm pasta.
It is susceptible to blight, but the fruits will still ripen, even on a dying vine. It's a trooper.
And for all you heirloom enthusiasts: if you have sauce tomatoes instead of slicers in your garden, check out this recipe for thick homemade tomato sauce and this five-minute tomato sauce from Heidi Swanson.
The season is upon us. Hooray for homegrown!