This warm September morning I had this for breakfast. Yesterday I had this for dinner. And I also had it for lunch. To say I am obsessed with this tomato salad would be true. It is good Manservant is away, because he would not be obsessed with this. He prefers his tomatoes in salsa form. As a child I hated tomatoes. I did like them in ketchup form and of course that was way back before I’d even heard of salsa. So other than eating them as spaghetti sauce or chili, I really never ate tomatoes. Even tomato soup wasn’t on my radar screen.
My mom did buy tomatoes. I think even back then they were the cold, refrigerated kind. Except when it was summer. Summer found us at the little farm stand on Court Street with the sand floors. It was always cool in side even though it was an open air stand. The front door always had bunches of gladiolas in every color of the rainbow to greet you. They came in bunches of a dozen for 99 cents. It was always hard to choose my favorite color. We also bought fresh corn there. My guess is that they were 99 cents a dozen also, but I don’t remember. I think the hardest thing and that which took the longest, was when mom chose tomatoes. She would pick up each one and check for bruises. Then she would smell them as if she was choosing her favorite perfume. Then she would set them aside and get a brown paper bag and start placing them carefully inside. As we got into the car we were always told to, “Watch the tomatoes!”
Upon arriving home the tomatoes were gently placed on the window sill where upon they sat until she sliced them into giant rounds and sprinkled salt and pepper on them . Sometimes she served them with cucumbers and sliced onions. Sometimes she just ate them straight. And all this time I wouldn’t eat them. They did not cross my lips. Even when she started growing them herself, I never ate a tomato. I didn’t even eat fried green tomatoes which my mom made once a year. I mean really! I didn’t eat something fried? I am sure that my mother never wanted us to like tomatoes because some things you just want all to yourself. It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I ate tomatoes. It probably came about in the form of a caprese salad. It is hard to resist cheese, even if it is served with tomatoes. I guess it was all over for me then, as I quickly discovered what I’d been missing for some 50 years.
And don’t even get me started on green peppers. I hated green peppers and there was no such thing as red ones back then. Really. I don’t think I saw a red pepper until I was 23 and in Israel, where I don’t believe they have green peppers! I know they all come from the same plant but it’s very funny how people prefer their peppers. Still to this day I don’t like green peppers, unless it smells like a green pepper. It needs to smell just picked and pungent and then and only then, will I eat it. I’ve had good luck this year finding really good green peppers. Just always look for those that smell. My guess is that they are the freshest and the others have probably been refrigerated.
Now it’s the end of summer and it’s time to get your tomatoes in. Whole Foods has some of the best I’ve seen. They have the heirlooms and the red and yellow pear tomatoes and the green zebras and the early girls, the romas, and the beefsteaks and the brandywines. I even love the names of the tomatoes. They are all so pretty I hate to eat them. The amazing thing is that each have their own individual taste. So get them while you still can. Summer’s bounty will soon be gone.
My salad toast is about as simple as it gets.Yes you could eat this just as a salad, but there is nothing like a good hunk of bread to soak up all that tomato goodness. Please make sure everything is at room temperature. Even the cheese! And please never refrigerate tomatoes. That is a no no! Make sure you have good artisan bread. This is a salad of flavor and texture and is pleasing to the eye. And we all know that we eat with our eyes, don’t we?
Tomato Burrata Toast
Time to Make: About 15 minutes
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green pepper
1 1/2 c rough chopped or sliced assorted tomatoes
1/2 c sliced pimento olives
3 grinds of black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 t salt
1 T rough chopped fresh parsley and basil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Olive oil to drizzle
4 slices of artisan bread toast
2 balls of Burrata sliced in half
Pinch of chile flakes, if desired
In a bowl combine onions, green pepper, tomatoes and olives. Add pepper, salt, parsley and basil. Toss gently with vinegar. Let sit while toasting bread. By now some of the juices of the tomatoes have collected in the bottom of the bowl. Take a spoonful and drizzle over toast. Place a large spoonful of tomatoes on top of that. Then half of the Burrata ball. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a bit more pepper. Serve with a knife and fork.