- Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
- Total Time: Under 1 Hour
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 8 Times
I cannot wait for the day in July or early August when I smell that evocative, earthy aroma of ripe heirloom tomatoes at my farmers’ market. I buy them at the almost-bursting stage. At home, I toss them with basil, garlic, penne, and olive oil; I make Greek salads; I roast them for hours in the oven. Then I long for the taste of the simple arrangement of sliced tomatoes like this, with a chiffonade of basil, some crystals of sea salt, and the vinaigrette.
FOR THE CROUTONS
- ½ to ¾ of a crusty country loaf of bread
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE DRESSING
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large shallot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, excellent quality
- Freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SALAD
- 4 to 5 pounds tomatoes, preferably heirloom and multicolored, sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, preferably multicolored, halved
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of fresh basil leaves torn or cut into thin strips (see Note)
TO PREPARE THE CROUTONS:
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Tear the bread into small pieces about the size of a quarter. On a baking sheet toss the bread with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the croutons are toasty and crunchy, about 30 minutes. Watch carefully. Turn the oven off and leave them until you are ready to toss the salad.
TO MAKE THE DRESSING:
Place the sea salt in a small bowl and add the shallot and vinegar. Let the shallot macerate for 10 minutes. Just before serving, whisk in the olive oil until well blended. Add pepper to taste.
Arrange the tomatoes on a large white platter, scattering the cherry tomatoes over the top. Spoon the dressing lightly over the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and scatter the croutons and basil on top
Cutting a leaf into chiffonade provides a feathery uniform cut for herbs. Stack the leaves, one on top of the other with spines facing upward. Roll the leaves and cut off slices crosswise so you end up with thin elegant strips of the basil. Works for mint, too.
© 2005 Peggy Knickerbocker
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings, using 4lb of tomatoes, and 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.