Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cherry Tomato Salad

Guest Post - Fran the Country Cousin
The Kitchen Cousins

A Gardener’s Cherry Tomato Salad
What could be better than standing in your garden on a warm summer evening and popping a just picked cherry tomato into your mouth. Oh man!! Close your eyes, bite down, and feel the skin pop in your mouth. Let the sugary sweetness bless your taste buds. You can’t buy a tomato moment like this at the grocery store. Sun-warmed, sweet as candy, cherry tomatoes can only be had if you grow them yourself.

I grow several kinds of cherry tomatoes for garden munching and summer salads. My favorites include Sun Gold, Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear (be aware it does split – a lot), Black Cherry or Chocolate Cherry, and though not a cherry tomato – Principe Borghese. I also like Green Grape and, a very small white cherry from J.L. Hudson, Mirabelle Blanche. There are sooo many cherry tomatoes to choose from but years of growing them has narrowed my list to the above choices.

For A Gardener’s Cherry Tomato Salad you will need:
  • Cherry tomatoes - Just picked is best if you can get them. You will need enough for the size group you are feeding so quantity is flexible. A mix of several different kinds makes for a tastier salad because each one brings its personal tomato nuance to the finished salad. Keep the tomatoes at room temperature. They are at their sweetest when warm.
  • Your favorite vinaigrette dressing – homemade from scratch (recipe below), your favorite bottled vinaigrette, or Good Seasons Italian - just follow the directions on the packet. My families favorite is Good Seasons Italian or homemade.
  • Salt – I like to use what my bulk food store calls Pretzel Salt – a large granule salt – it melts into the tomatoes
  • Fresh ground pepper
About an hour before you plan to eat halve the tomatoes and mix them in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste and toss with your hands to distribute the seasonings and get the tomato juices flowing. Add vinaigrette a little at a time and determine if you have enough by mixing and tasting. Don’t over dress the tomatoes. Allow salad to sit at room temperature to allow flavors to develop and the dressing to meld with the tomato juices.

Serve with a crusty, buttered bread. You will need the bread to sop up all the juices and clean your plate. Refrigerate leftovers – see tip below.

Homemade Vinaigrette
  • About 1/4 cup of a good vinegar – you get what you pay for- cheap vinegar = cheap taste. I’ve used champagne, balsamic, white, cider, white wine, and red wine vinegars. All a little different but all good.
  • A pinch of salt
  • A dab of Dijon mustard – you can leave this out if you prefer but it is a traditional addition to vinaigrette
Simply whisk these three ingredients together with a fork or wire whisk. Dribble in about
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil. I often use a mix of olive oil and canola oil.
Whisk as you dribble and keep whisking until smooth. You can also add – if you like
  • 1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
Taste and adjust salt, oil or vinegar to suit your taste buds. Refrigerate left overs and bring back to room temperature before using again.

Tip: Leftovers are great so you might want to make extra for tomorrows lunch or maybe as a morning feast with your breakfast toast. Refrigerated leftovers still taste great.

Just Because: Plate up some salad, butter some crunchy bread, and take it all out into your garden. Sit on the ground that grew your tomatoes, feel the warm sun on your head, and feast on the miracle you have just picked. While you’re eating your salad say a blessing over your tomato plants. Amen.

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin