Now that summer is winding down, tomatoes are at their best. I am grateful to my friend who has shared her homegrown tomatoes with me! Here is a recipe for tomato salad, with a couple of variations, to take advantage of them at their juiciest and ripest.
The salad will have the best flavor if you use a mix of different kinds–heirloom tomatoes preferred, and include yellow ones, striped ones, and cherry or grape tomatoes. This recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s “Mothership Tomato Salad,” but I changed it a bit. His calls for dried oregano, which I’m not crazy about, and a fresh red chile. I use fresh basil instead, and no chile. Feel free to experiment! The cucumber is optional. I’ve made it with and without; both versions have their virtues.
Enjoy the end of summer…..
Summer Tomato Salad
2 1/4 lbs. mixed ripe tomatoes, different shapes and colors, or less than 2 lbs. tomatoes and 1 cucumber
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Several leaves of fresh basil, to taste
Red wine or balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated (or use the minced in oil kind, which comes bottled)
Slice up the tomatoes, some in chunks, some in quarters, and some in half if they are small like cherry tomatoes. Put them in a colander and season with a good pinch of sea salt. Give them a toss, season again with sea salt, and toss again. The salt won’t be drawn into the tomatoes, so don’t worry that the salad will be too salty!
Let the tomatoes sit in the colander for 15 minutes and throw away any juice that drains out. Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl. If you’re adding a cucumber, cut it in thin slices or small chunks and toss in with the tomatoes. Cut up the basil into strips (kitchen scissors are good for this) and add to the bowl. Toss all this a bit.
Make a vinaigrette of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil and the garlic. Add the dressing and toss lightly to coat the salad. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
This would be terrific with some mozzarella or some rustic bread.