For me summer is the season of non-cooking, at least as far as actual kitchen time is concerned. It’s the season of grilling and salads. An occasional foggy or cool day may call for a simple braise, but those are rare. I’d much rather spend my time out in the garden or taking a walk along the coast. But, eventually one grows weary of the repeated diet of grilled meat and grilled vegetables plus a green salad of sorts.
Enter tomato season, a little delayed and behind most of the U.S. here in Northern California. Our tomatoes aren’t really ripe until late August or early September. But I intend to take full advantage of our short season. I did manage to grow some in my garden this year but it isn’t enough to keep us in daily tomato salads.
Enter my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Nye Ranch, which is just down the road. They raise their tomatoes under big plastic hoops and this week, for the first time, they offered them in flats to their members. I immediately snapped one up.
Aren’t they beautiful?
The think the first tomatoes are best appreciated simply, maybe on a slice of toasted rustic bread…they only need a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil to reach perfection. Heaven! Or tomato sandwiches, try this simple one that you will need to eat at the kitchen sink, the juices will drip down your chin Tomato Sandwich and the Kitchen Sink.
Later in the season is the time to be more inventive.
Have you tried adding fruit to tomato salads? The fruit will add an extra layer of sweetness against the tart acidity of the tomato. A little flaky salt underlines the sweetness of the fruit. My father always added a sprinkle of salt to watermelon to emphasize that sweetness. As a child I though that was weird, now I think it was a wonderful idea. This salad uses stone fruit but I have seen tomato and watermelon salads on the www. It seems like watermelon would be a good combination although I haven’t tried it, have any of you? This salad uses peaches but it would be equally good with nectarines, or plums later in the season. You could stop there, it would be delicious. But, read on…
A last minute drizzle of toasted spice and seeds added a crunch to this salad. I intend to use this same seed mixture on other vegetables, maybe on simply grilled zucchini (a vegetable on which I am beginning to tire). In fact it could be my new go-to enhancement for any simple roasted, grilled or steamed vegetable.
In addition to the seeds this drizzle includes turmeric and black pepper. What are the seeds? My favorite cumin, plus sesame seeds. Both are toasted first to enhance their flavor and crunch.
The recipe is flexible, increase or decrease the amount of tomatoes and fruit depending on what is available in your kitchen right now and the size of them.
- 3 – 4 tomatoes
- 2 -3 ripe peaches
- 1 teaspoon of kosher or flaky salt
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- Cut the tomatoes and peaches into wedges and position them on a large platter where you can spread them out. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and let them rest while you prepare the drizzle.
- Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a dry skillet until beginning to brown and smell toasty, remove them to a small plate to cool.
- Warm the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the turmeric, pepper and toasted seeds to warm them and flavor the oil.
- Drizzle the warm oil over the tomatoes and peaches.
This salad can be made ahead and will be good for several days. It’s best warmed to room temperature before serving.
This recipe was developed by Ali Slagle for the Washington Post.
And if you can’t find perfectly ripe tomatoes or live in the Southern Hemisphere, try this different one with cherry tomatoes. They are usually available year round.
Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad
Be well and safe everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.
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