Sadly, we are nearing the end of summer in Chicago. Which is why I recommend running to your nearest farmers market and buying a bucket load of tomatoes now. Like right now.
I have enjoyed tomatoes at least fives times a week this summer. Yes that may seem like an obscene amount of tomatoes to consume. And you would be correct if you thought that I may get a little burnt out at times. However, whenever I may not be “in the mood” for more tomatoes I remind myself that during the winter I will be forced to eat the under ripe, tasteless tomatoes that are sprayed with ethylene gas. Then the summer tomatoes seem really appealing at that point.
This is the simplest preparation of tomatoes but definitely my favorite. It consists of…
Tomatoes (all shapes, sizes, color, varieties), really, really, really good olive oil (I like olive oil from Liguria, Tuscany or Sicily), basil, freshly ground pepper and flaky sea salt.
The key to this salad is you must buy the best of everything! You must go to the farmer’s market and buy local tomatoes or steal some from your neighbor’s garden. You must buy delicious, high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Yes it is expensive but it will change everything you eat. The pepper must be ground fresh. The pepper “tin” does not exist in my kitchen. Flaky sea salt is a preference but highly recommended.
Am I a snob? Absolutely. But there is a reason. When you buy the best ingredients in the peak of the season you don’t need to do much. Let the ingredients shine (as tacky as it sounds it’s true).
You can make several variations as well. Add some of your favorite cheese like fresh goat cheese or mozzarella di bufala. Mix up the herbs and add chives, thyme or parsley. You can make a vinaigrette with balsamic or sherry vinegar. Whatever you do keep it simple stupid and enjoy them while it lasts.
- 2# tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, hyrbids, whatever floats your boat--enough for 4 people)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh basil (whole or torn)
- 2 small persian or 1 seedless cucumber, sliced
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), to taste
- Keep your tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor.
- Slice your tomatoes in which ever way you prefer, just not too thin.
- Place them artfully on a plate or platter.
- Top with slices of cucumbers.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with fresh basil.