By Jackie Longbons-Baughman & Ryan Baughman / Garden Fresh Chef
We like to call this an "ode to Oliver". Jamie Oliver is a huge influence on our cooking style. Ryan starting watching his show "Jamie at Home" a few years ago. What he likes about this show is that it focuses on fresh, local ingredients. The idea is using everything that is indigenous to your area and refueling the local agricultural and food markets rather than ordering away for outsourced and often times over-preserved foods.
If you have taken on the challenge of growing a garden this year or at least have helped in maintaining one this recipe is for you. At the end of summer tomatoes are often (if it is a good year) everywhere and it is difficult to find things to do with them. There is the option of canning (which is a whole other subject) or making spaghetti....again. Fresh Tomato Salad is an easy, no nonsense way to impress your friends and watch your waste line. All you need is a few ingredients and a good glass of your favorite wine. A good paring would be Cabernet Savingnon (if you like red) and a Pinot Grigio (if you like white). Add your favorite cheese and eat up!
Fresh Tomato Salad
10-12 assorted tomatoes, big and small (The greater variety of types, colors and sizes the more interesting and flavorful your salad will be)
2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 clove garlic, grated
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
3 oz. mozzarella cheese (or feta)
1 chile (salsa, fresno, or your favorite), seeded and diced
5-6 basil leaves
2 sprigs thyme and oregano
Fresh cracked pepper
Take the stems out of the bigger tomatoes and slice them however you like. I like to slice some, dice others and cut the rest into wedges. For smaller tomatoes, such as cherries, just cut them in half. Place all the tomato pieces into a colander and sprinkle with salt. Mix together and leave to sit in the sink for 10-15 minutes to let some of the excess moisture drain out of the tomatoes.
Put your drained tomatoes in a big bowl and add your grated garlic, diced chile pepper and a couple grinds of black pepper. Drizzle in enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the tomatoes and a few dashes of red wine vinegar and gently mix everything together. The ratio of olive oil to vinegar should be about like a salad dressing - 3:1.
To serve, place the bigger slices around the bottom of the plate, top with the remaining tomatoes and drizzle some of the dressing over them. Tear up some mozzarella or feta cheese and sprinkle on the salad. Rip up the basil leaves and let them fall over the salad. Take the thyme and oregano of their stems and do the same.
Serve in the middle of the table on its own or with some toasted bread. Goes will with roasted fish or pork.