Welcome to my personal shame. I grew up hating garden-fresh tomatoes. Every time I admit this I feel like I should have my identify protected, filmed in blurry profile behind a screen with my voice modulated. I’d like Darth Vader if that’s an option.
Each summer, at the peak of the season, my Mom would walk me out to her garden and pick a perfectly ripe tomato. I’d take one bite, warm from the sun, and let her know that I still thought it was terrible at which point she would agree that we didn’t need to do this again until next summer.
Fast forward I’m 22 years old and spending the night at the home of a high-school friend. His mother serves a perfect, crisp, thin-crust, white pizza with fresh baby arugula and what she claims are the best tomatoes to be found from her local farm market. Mom raised me right so I take two thick, bright-red wedges. “Oh, these are the best. Take more!” she says, heaping tomatoes all over my plate. Again, Mom raised me right, so I eat every last one realizing I have gained the ability to choke tomatoes down.
Fast forward I’m 30 years old dating a smoking hot restaurant manager who sends out a free plate of food – an heirloom salad. I turn to my friends to inform them that we-will-be-sending-the-plate-back-clean-‘cause-I-really-dig-this-guy. “This may be poor timing,” they say, “but we too hate tomatoes.” I ate every last bite. And it wasn’t bad.
Fast forward I’m 37 starting to offer weekly live cooking demonstrations at Washington, DC’s Eastern Market. All anyone wants to hear about are – up – tomatoes. Six years later I’ve developed too many tomato recipes to count and I’ve eaten every one, many more than once. And you know what? I’ll still choose a zucchini first every time, but tomatoes aren’t so bad. In fact, in this salad, they’re pretty darn good!
Fresh Herbed Tomato Salad
Serves 6 – 8
I love this with Purple Cherokee heirloom tomatoes fresh from the farm market! Make a second batch to place in a baking dish with chicken thighs and drumsticks. Cook uncovered at 400 F for 40-45 minutes until done.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs each chopped basil, parsley, chives and oregano 1 tbs chopped thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 ⁄3 cup red wine vinegar
2 ⁄3 cup olive oil–the good stuff!
5 medium tomatoes, cut in small wedges
1 ⁄2 cup crumbled feta
Place the garlic in a mortar, sprinkle with coarse salt and mash into a paste.
Add chopped basil, parsley, chives, oregano and thyme to the mortar. Pound into a paste with garlic, adding additional coarse salt if needed.
Transfer herb paste to medium bowl, and whisk together with Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with pepper.
While whisking, drizzle oil into vinegar mixture. This will form a creamy emulsion.
Taste vinaigrette with a tomato wedge. Season to taste with additional vinegar or oil, salt and pepper.
Lightly dress tomatoes with vinaigrette and toss with feta.
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