It's the start of tomato harvest season and August becomes the month dedicated to tomato dishes....especially tomato salads. There's nothing quite like plucking fresh tomatoes and basil from your garden and serving them minutes later at the dinner table.
My favorite tomato salad this time of year is Caprese Salad. Made with basil, tomato and mozzarella, it is simple yet extraordinary: http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/07/caprese-salad.html. Head to Costco for the mozzarella...they have 3 or 4 different selections this time of year. My two favorites are Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and Formaggio Fresh Mozzarella. The former is made in Italy from water buffalo milk and the latter are little fresh mozzarella balls in oil. For a little spin on the salad, substitute truffle oil for the olive oil and truffle salt for the Kosher salt.
Another great tomato salad is one I published in 2011. Jeff Pinkham's August Salad is an incredible symphony of flavors: http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2011/08/jeff-pinkhams-august-salad.html. Fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, blue cheese and an awesome Balsamic vinaigrette. If you have fresh tomatoes, you must try this salad!
Tomatoes Nicoise, a David Tanis recipe, is also a remarkably simple salad to pull together. While simple in structure, the complexity of the flavors is most unexpected. Shallots, garlic, anchovies, nicoise olives, capers, basil...and two kinds of tomatoes!
In August, I don't always eat salads. But when I do, I prefer tomatoes. Stay hungry, my friends.
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, grated
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, 2 finely chopped and 6 for garnish
2 tablespoons roughly chopped black niçoise olives, plus whole olives for garnish
6 small red tomatoes
12 cherry tomatoes in assorted colors
1 tablespoon small capers, rinsed
12 basil leaves
- Make the vinaigrette: Put the shallot in a small bowl. Add garlic, salt and pepper and cover with red wine vinegar. Macerate 10 minutes, then whisk in olive oil, chopped anchovy and chopped olives.
- Cut each tomato crosswise into 2 thick slices. Place slices on a platter in one layer and season with salt and pepper. Season cherry tomatoes with salt and dress with vinaigrette. Spoon cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette evenly over tomato slices.
- Top each tomato slice with half an anchovy filet, then sprinkle with capers. Garnish with basil leaves and whole olives. Serve at cool room temperature.
Wine pairing: Pinot Grigio