About the Tomato...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

   For me, summer is all about long, lazy weekends spent mostly outdoors and similarly lazy meals, also preferably eaten outside.

   In New York this meant a lot of walks and hikes, especially in the late afternoons when the sun's fury had abated a bit. Since moving to the south summers mean slow, sun drenched days at the beach and endless evenings cocooned in the safely of our screened in porch, mosquitoes mercifully thwarted.

   And, of course, summer is tomatoes and corn on the cob. Spicy shrimp boils and icy beers.

   I've written about my favorite succotash recipe before and it graced out patio dinner table as soon as corn and tomatoes were both local and drippingly ripe. Served alongside a perfectly grilled grass fed steak and glasses of white wine chilled with frozen strawberries: heaven.

   Admittedly, I was slow to the tomato camp. With a childhood of picky eating behind me I came to adulthood with the concept of tomatoes as these slimy, oddly seed ridden, wet things- or, even worse, mealy! Like a badly ripened apple only worse.

   Then I went to Croatia to visit my brother and everything about the tomato that I thought I knew flew out the door. I ate an amazing seafood risotto, so resplendent with local seafare that at first I didn't notice the barely cooked chunks of fresh tomato amidst the rice. Once I did I could hardly ignore them- so sweet and velvety, so full of the sun.

   There is nothing in this world like a truly vine ripened, in season, local tomato. Find some and make this salad. I hope you eat it outside, in the late dregs of summer sun, over a meal so lazy the candle snuffs itself out in a pool of wax. 

Summer Tomato Salad
Serves 4
I like this best with an array of baby heirlooms, but any in season tomato will do. This salad is dynamite served along side crispy roasted baby potatoes.

1 pound tomatoes, diced (to about 1/2 inch chunks)
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 avocado, diced (to about 1/4 inch chunks)
Freshly squeezed juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

   Place the tomatoes, parsley and avocado in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and salt. Whisk until well combined. Pour the dressing over the tomato salad and gently toss everything together. Taste and season with additional salt if desired.  

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