Lis at La Mia Cucina and Kelly at Sass And Veracity hatched the idea of a Salad Stravaganza for this month and I promised to submit something before the deadline of June 25th, and it appears I have managed to make it just in time. Lis and Kelly are on a quest to acquire smaller hips, a very noble idea, don't you think? This is an extremely easy salad, but getting the right ingredient may or may not be easy for people. It's a tomato salad that must be made with the best quality fruits (or you can call them vegetables, if you like). If you're lucky enough to grow your own, by all means use those. But, excellent specimens are starting to appear on the market. And for those still waiting--your time will come. Really, it will. The waiting period for vine ripened tomatoes makes them all the more delicious when you finally taste them. So just keep telling yourself that, as you wait impatiently for them to finally arrive in all their perfection.
I used a variety of tomatoes in different shapes and sizes. Some of them were from my garden and others were from my local CO-OP and Farmer's Market. All the cherry tomatoes were from my garden, as well as the Early Girls and the Stupice. I bought some yellow/orange tomatoes, Pink Accordion, a pleated tomato, and chocolate colored Indian Strip.
They were sliced, quartered, and in the case of the cherry tomatoes, left whole. Dressed with a simple vinaigrette and fresh basil, it was the focus of our meal. We had grilled peasant bread and chicken, but we took no notice of the chicken. Our entire meal was simply tomatoes and bread. We sampled each variety and decided that we liked our garden tomatoes the best, because they had that "fresh picked" tang. Sliced tomatoes had the best taste, but the quartered fruits weren't as pleasing. It seemed like slicing opens up the flavor better than quartering. The favorite way to eat the tomatoes was to pile them on top of the grilled peasant bread. It was simply marvelous. We had our bread nude--but you could smear on some goat cheese and it would send you into heaven
Simple Fabulous Tomato Salad
(Adapted from The Mustard's Grill Cookbook)
Serves 2-4 people
6-8 fresh picked, vine ripened tomatoes in different varieties, sizes, and shapes
At least 1 cup of cherry tomatoes in different sizes and colors
freshly chopped basil
Cut the large tomatoes in slices and quarters and any shape you like. Arrange them on a large platter or individual salad plates. Cut some of the cherry tomatoes in half and leave the rest whole, distributing them on the sliced and quartered tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped basil on top of the tomatoes, then drizzle with vinaigrette or just use good salt and pepper. Put some of the grilled bread around the tomatoes. You would do well to make extra bread and have it available because it is fabulous with the tomatoes
1 Tablespoon good vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Whisk the ingredients together and adjust for seasoning.
Slice as much good peasant or ciabatta bread as you see fit. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill under a broiler, flipping them over--or on a hot grill. Watch them carefuly as they can burn quickly. When they have turned a light toasted color, you can serve them as is, or sprinkle with parmesan cheese and black pepper. Goat cheese is also nice spread on the slices. Serve them with the salad and pile the tomatoes on the bread as you eat.