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.
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.