Saturday, August 17, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Salads (Take 2) - Shirazi Salad and Heirloom Tomatoes with Black Garlic and Basil Vinaigrette

For the past few weeks I have been going a little crazy with the heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market.  I can't help myself.  Ever since I discovered just how wonderful heirloom tomatoes can be I have been a little obsessed.  Between the heirloom tomatoes and the fresh corn at the farmers' market I have a bad habit of focusing on them to the exclusion of all other vegetables.  And then I have to scramble to find new and interesting recipes to use all of the corn and heirloom tomatoes ASAP because neither of them have a good shelf life.  If I were a more strategic farmers' market shopper I would only buy ingredients with a better shelf life - like zucchini and/or eggplant.  Anyway, I bought somewhere between 2 and 3 lbs of heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market last Friday and then had to figure out what to do with them over the weekend.  I wanted to try something new and since we had a lot of tomatoes, I decided to make a recipe from our Susan Feniger cookbook (Heirloom Tomatoes with Black Garlic and Basil Vinaigrette) and a recipe that I had bookmarked from Bon Appetit for shirazi salad with heirloom tomatoes.  There is an heirloom tomato tart recipe that I have been dying to make, but it's just too time/labor intensive.  I am going to try to make it before the end of the summer but I make no promises.  The other thing that keeps me from making the recipe is that it requires turning on the oven, which is the absolute last thing I want to do on a hot summer day, no matter how delicious the end results might be...

Alex and I disagree over which recipe we preferred, which happens from time to time.  He preferred the Susan Feniger recipe, whereas I preferred the shirazi salad.  As soon as I took a bite of the shirazi salad I knew it wasn't going to be his favorite.  Alex has a healthy suspicion of parsley and dill when used in abundance and Middle Eastern cuisine can be a little aggressive in its usage of parsley.  I really like the flavors of both, so I didn't have a problem with it but I wasn't surprised to hear that it wasn't his favorite tomato salad ever.  If you look at the picture after the break you will see how heavily herbed this dish was.  As for the Susan Feniger recipe, it was very tasty.  I always love the combination of tomatoes and basil.  But I didn't think it really distinguished itself from other tomato-basil salads we have made.  Perhaps if we had the black garlic (which has a pretty distinctive taste) it would have made more of an impression?  I don't know.  Our tomatoes also had a ton of juice so they thinned out the vinaigrette a lot and it didn't really coat the tomatoes as well as I had hoped.  Perhaps we should have drained some of the tomato juice first but I didn't want to waste any of the tomato-y goodness...  It was delicious (as far as I am concerned, it would be nearly impossible for a salad made with ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil and balsamic to not be delicious) and I would eat it again, but I don't think it will stand out in my mind in comparison to all of the other heirloom tomato salads.  If I can track down some black garlic in the coming weeks I will have to try it again (and maybe drain some of the juice) and see if that makes a difference or not. 

I have another 1 1/2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes that I picked up at the farmers' market yesterday.  Later today I will sit down and figure out what I want to make next...

Recipes after the jump!

Shirazi Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 scallion, thinly sliced 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Persian cucumbers, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into small wedges
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp evoo
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper 
2 tbsp chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp dill with tender stems and blossoms, cut into 1-inch pieces (we went a little lighter)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems, chopped (we went a little lighter)
2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves

Combine spring onion and vinegar in a small bowl; let sit 20 minutes. Drain.
Toss spring onion, cucumbers, garlic, all tomatoes, lime juice, and evoo in a large bowl; season with s&p and toss gently with hands to coat.  Add herbs.  Toss to combine.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Black Garlic and Basil Vinaigrette
Adapted from Susan Feniger's Street Food
By Susan Feniger

1 1/2 lb assorted heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into small wedges
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
kosher salt
1 head of garlic, roasted until soft and cloves removed
2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp evoo
1/2 tbsp honey

Put the tomatoes and the basil in a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt to taste, and mix well to combine.

In a blender, combine the garlic cloves, vinegar, evoo, honey and 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Puree until smooth.  The mixture should be slightly thick.  

Pour half of the vinaigrette over the tomatoes and mix well to combine (our tomatoes let out a lot of juice so the tomatoes ended up sitting in a huge pool of thin liquid the color of tahini paste).


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