When tomatoes are at the peak of their beauty and ripeness, try this delicious, dead-simple recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The garlic and the vinegar bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes, and the juices created from the salad cry out for chunks of good, crusty bread to sop them up.
4 to 5 garlic cloves
2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes (either round or plum)
12 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
Extra virgin olive oil
Peel the garlic cloves and mash them with the flat side of a large chef’s knife (or alternately, with the back of a small, heavy pot).
Put the mashed garlic in a small bowl together with the vinegar and 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir and let steep at least 20 minutes (and up to an hour).
Using a swivel-blade peeler, skin the raw tomatoes. (See Note, below.)
Cut the tomatoes into thin slices, and spread out in a deep plate or platter.
Tear the basil leaves into 2 or 3 pieces each (or leave whole if small) and sprinkle over the tomatoes.
Pour the vinegar mixture through a wire strainer over the tomatoes and basil, distributing the vinegar over the salad evenly.
Add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the tomatoes well.
Taste and correct for salt and vinegar. (A couple of grindings of fresh pepper wouldn’t be out of place here, either.)
Note: If you do not have a swivel-blade peeler, get one! They are quite useful in the kitchen. Barring that, you can use the blanch-and-peel method described in “pro tips” above, but note that the texture of the blanched tomatoes won’t be quite as good as raw.
Learn more about tomatoes in Megan’s full post on Ecocentric Blog.