Heirloom Tomato Salad

Despite this month’s banner, one of my favorite dishes to serve in summer is an heirloom tomato salad. It’s a dish that does the work for you: just buy an array of quirkily beautiful heirloom tomatoes–as many colors and shapes as you can find at the farmer’s market–cut them into slices or wedges and serve them with torn-bread croutons, green basil (plus purple basil if you can find it) and some shaved ricotta salata on top. The finished plate looks something like this….


It makes for a really dramatic presentation. I love making it so much that I served it not once but twice at two separate dinner parties over the last week; one for our friends Jeffery & Cole, and one, last night, for everyone’s friend David Lebovitz:


That’s him taking a picture of it which I find the HEIGHT of rudeness: can you imagine someone taking pictures of your food at the table? I snatched the camera out of his hands and threw it out the window.

Now: David asked for a recipe. There really isn’t one. Here’s what I do.

In addition to buying an array of tomatoes, I buy a loaf of what baker’s sometimes call “country bread.” I cut off the crusts and tear the insides into big pieces. I put the pieces on a cookie sheet, toss with olive oil, some salt and pepper and pop into a 400 degree oven, baking until the bread is toasty and golden all over. (Shake it every so often and make sure to keep your eye on it.)


As for the tomatoes, I almost always slice into wedges, unless the tomatoes are so big they’d do better as slices. Here’s a pretty green and red tomato that I cut into:


Before my guests arrive, I put the cut-up tomatoes in a bowl with thinly sliced onion (red onion works great; I use about 1/4 of it) and lots of torn basil. I don’t dress it until the last minute (adding salt early would make the tomatoes leach their liquid; that was fun to write; leach their liquid):


At the very last minute, I add all the croutons to the bowl, a big glug of olive oil, a little less of a glug of red wine vinegar, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper and toss it all together. Then I taste taste taste. Often it needs more acid, so I add another splash of vinegar.

Transfer to the platter and shave some ricotta salata on top (I use a vegetable peeler):


And that’s all there is to it. This is one of the best things you can eat in summer; and because I have a few heirlooms leftover from last night, I think I’ll eat a bowl of it right now:


I suggest you do the same.

Let's dish!

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