Tomato Salad 2 ways

tomato_stackHello, summer. Hello, summer heirloom tomatoes and your delicious, beautifully colored, lumpy shaped form. Is there any better fruit (yeah, fruit) than the fresh, summer tomato? I think not.

I just finished reading Tomatoland and learned way more than I ever intended about the tomato industry. Tomato agriculture actually has quite a sad and shocking history. Ever had a bright, red tomato in the dead of winter? Chances are that tomato was harvested by a slave. Modern-day slavery is alive and well in many produce industries, but none more than what was depicted in this book in the Florida tomato agriculture. Thankfully, steps have been taken to abolish slave labor and provide better wages and housing for farm workers, and that story is well documented in the book. But there’s still a long way to go.

Also well-documented in the book is the stringent checklist of attributes a tomato must possess to be deemed worthy by the Florida Tomato Committee, none of which is taste. Is the fruit the right shape? Check. Is it the right size? Check. Is the fruit the right color? Check. (By the way, nearly all tomatoes are picked when they’re green and then stored in a warehouse where they’re treated with ethylene gas to give them the red color we’ve come to cherish. Exception being organic tomatoes.) Has optimal taste been ensured? Um…uhhh…. No. The answer is no. Taste is almost never a factor in the cultivation of tomatoes. Ever had a mealy, bland tomato? I bet it looked beautiful because it passed all the other points on the checklist.

Anyway. Enough of the politics. If you’re interested in more, read the book, it’s quite informative. Summer means fresh produce, and king among all is the tomato. If you’re able to get good ones from a farmer’s market or grow some in your own back yard, you know the taste I’m talking about. And when you get the right tomatoes, these two salads are a great way to enjoy them.

Simple tomato stack

Simple tomato stack

One takes a simple approach to let the fruit shine, another incorporates a couple extra flavors to build depth.

Heirloom tomato salad with red onion and mozzarella

Heirloom tomato salad with red onion and mozzarella

Simple tomato stack with olive oil, basil and oregano

  • 3-4 Heirloom tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh basil and oregano
  • Pinch of salt

Slice the tomatoes into discs, create a stack. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and top with a chiffonade of basil and oregano. Serve at room temperature.

Heirloom tomato salad with red onion and mozzarella

  • 3-4 Heirloom tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh basil and oregano
  • ¼ red onion, sliced into half-rings
  • Pearl-sized mozzarella
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Quarter the tomatoes and put in a large bowl. Slice the onion, chiffonade the basil and oregano, add to the bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, add olive oil and mozzarella and mix together. Serve on a plate or in a bowl.

Enjoy!

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