Les Trois Mousquetaires or Three Summer Salads…Part 1

As summer winds down, Labor Day looms, and the first underlying freshness in the air appears I long to savor and hold onto the simple summer salads that are at their best now…they are easy and the most important criterium is the freshness of the ingredients…although I have fooled some “foodies” with the salad below…

Make all three.  They are a great addition to a summer buffet. 

Here they are all for one and one for all in three parts:

Red Onion and Tomato Salad:

Aramis, no doubt…

Take a few good-sized ripe tomatoes, I like the color mix of a red and two yellows, or the inverse.  Wash them, and with a sharp paring knife take out the stem end.  It should come out in a little cone.  Place the tomato stem side down, cut three thick slices from the tip to the stem.  Note: if you were making a tomato mozzarella salad, you would cut them on the equator.  Place the cut slices flesh down, and cut them into thick cubes.  They need not be uniform.  Take a half red onion, or a whole if you like onions.  You will find the proportions of tomato and onion you like through trial and error.  Here is where you get to make a choice.  It is like being a big-ender or a little-ender, or an and Almond Joy vs. Mounds.  You can either cut the onion into a small brunoise or thin slices.  Either way you go is fine.  The brunoise gives the salad a more slaw-like texture with oinion crunch, and the slices a more distinct onion and tomato separation making for a purer juice. 

Put the ingredients in the bowl you intend to serve it in, a nice white porcelain bowl is good.  It has to be a bowl, because you get a lot of juice.  Add a quarter cup to a third cup good olive oil, a lot of ground pepper, and a GENEROUS, and I do mean GENEROUS amount of good salt.  What is good salt?  Not any fine iodized salt to be sure!  I am also not crazy for the big coarse salt in this salad as it isn’t pleasant to chew on salt crystals.  I use a simple Kosher kitchen salt.  Mix everything together, cover with a plate, and the KEY here is to let it sit for at least twenty-five minutes.  You can stir it again after ten.  You can let it sit for longer too.  Note: there is NO vinegar.  The salt and tomato acid is all you need.  Do not add herbs or anything else, at least not the first time you make it.  I serve it as a summer side salad.  The next day, it becomes a simple gazpacho.  I drink the tomato water.  I have also used it as a base on a plate for a piece of grilled fish, spoon the juices on top.  You will be surprised at how good and sweet the salad is, even the onion is sweet because of the salt. 

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 I made it once with the winter hothouse tomatoes, cut the tomato into bigger chinks and let it sit for a few hours.  It was very good, and I fooled a friend by saying that they were grown in Chile and sent to me Fedex.

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