Thursday, August 15, 2013
When I was growing up one my favorite summer salads was a mixture of tomatoes and onions. Simple and easy, but for some reason whenever I’ve tried to recreate it here in Todi, it never tastes quite the same.
I know the tomatoes, from our own garden, are probably infinitely better than whatever supermarket tomatoes my mom was getting in St. Louis. But still, there was something missing that I could never quite figure out.
Until the other day when I was reading David Tanis’s column in the Dining Section. I love David’s column, and I always feel like we are cooking on the same wave length. Since everything he suggests is always rigorously seasonal, we are usually cooking up the same things, week by week. In fact, when I see the photographs of his dishes I often think “hey, I just did that too.”
This is exactly what I thought when I saw the photo for last week’s featured recipe. Tomato salad is, of course, more or less what we’ve been eating 24/7 since our garden this year is groaning with bright red globes.
But try as I might, it’s never my mother’s St. Louis tomato and onion salad.
And that’s when I actually read David’s recipe for his tomato salad. From the photo it couldn’t have looked simpler. But there was one magic ingredient that didn’t show up in the photos, and definitely never showed up in my tomato salads: vinegar!
Of course my mother had used vinegar when dressing any salad. But here in Italy you’d be surprised by how little vinegar is used. Especially on tomato salad. As in never.
So the other day I simplified David’s Nicoise version down to the basics, but kept the one essential ingredient of shallots soaked in red wine vinegar.
And finally, I had that acidy tomatoey salad that I remembered from growing up in St. Louis. While my mom used to cut the tomatoes into chunks, and let everything get gloppy in a bowl, I chose to lay mine out on a platter, so the big fat cuore di bue tomatoes stayed firm.
Now the only thing missing is the barbecued ribs to go along with it.
tomato salad with shallot vinaigrette
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovies, chopped (optional)
Flaky sea salt and ground pepper
Place the shallot , salt and crushed garlic in a small bowl, and add vinegar. Stir and let sit for at least a half hour. Add olive oil, and let sit another half hour.
Just before serving cut the tomatoes into thick slices and lay on a pretty platter. If using, distribute anchovies on top. Drizzle dressing over everything and scatter basil leaves on top. Top with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.