Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tomatoes in Season! Tomatoes in Salads!

Now that tomato season is in full bloom we will be eating them everyday in one way or another. Last week we gave you some recipes for cooking fresh tomatoes to accompany grilled meats and fish, today here they are in all their glory - in salads.

Tomates Croque-au-Fleur de Sel
In France, when they have perfect tomatoes they sometimes enjoy them just cut open and sprinkled with sea salt.  Not just any salt, but one of the gourmet sea salts – if possible Fleur de sel ("Flower of salt" ) which is hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt.  Because of its excessive moisture, fleurs de sel does not dissolve when sprinkled on a moist food: instead it retains its crystal structure, giving a slight crunch to the food as well as a slight shimmer. The crystals which are irregularly sized and shaped, dissolve at different rates in the mouth, giving several phases of salting. Fleur de sel is not to be wasted in cooking as it dissolves too fast. It is best used as a finishing touch by sprinkling it over food just before serving.

Tomato, Tuna & Hard Boiled Eggs
(For 4 people):
2 pounds of tomatoes
¼ cup of Vidalia onions (chopped).
1 large can of tuna in olive oil
4 hard boiled eggs, cut in half.
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1½ tablespoons of peanut oil
Sea Salt & Ground Pepper
Make the dressing by mixing the mustard and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl in which you will serve the salad. Add any olive oil that you can drain off from the can by pressing and holding back the tuna with a fork while pouring the olive oil into the mixture. Whisk. Add the peanut oil and whisk again. Add the onions .Quarter the tomatoes and add the eggs and tuna. Mix adding salt and pepper. If you prefer to make an artistic presentation on a platter, slice the tomatoes and place them side by side overlapping them all around the serving platter leaving room between the tomatoes and the edges of the platter for the row of halved eggs. Add the tuna (Fill the hole in the middle of the platter).  Sprinkle the onions. Pour the sauce over all of the tomatoes. Add sea sat (fleru de sel if you have) and pepper.

Tomato & Corn Salad
Take any amounts of the following and make appropriate amounts for the number of people you are serving.
Chopped Vidalia Onions
Chopped yellow and/or orange peppers
Cooked or canned corn
Chopped fresh basil.
Dressing:1 part red wine or balsamic red wine vinegar (I like half and half) to three parts olive oil (a good first cold press).
Directions: Pour the vinegar into the bottom of the bowl I which you will serve the salad. Add salt (not fleur de sel) and pepper. Mince 1 large clove of garlic per tablespoon of vinegar into the vinegar. Add 1/3 of the olive oil. Whisk. Add another 1/3 of the oil and whisk again. Add remainder of the oil and whisk one more time.  Add the chopped onions. Cut up and add the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers corn and avocados. Mix with two large spoons. S[rinjled with Fleur de Sel, ground pepper and fresh basil Serve.

Salad Nicoise
France’s favorite main course salad served all summer daily in just about every restaurant and café on the French Riviera. There are many variations but this is the original.
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried 
1 pound cooked green beans
½ tablespoons chopped shallots 
 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved) 
 4 "boiling" potatoes, peeled, boiled and sliced
Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna packed in olive oil
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved 
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets 
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives 
2 to 3 tablespoons capers 
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
Directions: Make your vinaigrette by starting with the mustard and adding the vinegar, salt and pepper and then whisking the olive oil in one tablespoon at a time. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a large shallow bowl. Shortly before serving, toss the green beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette. Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and tuna. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs, yellow side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each. Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.

Gerard’s Wine Suggestion
With fresh tomatoes, salads and warm weather these is nothing better than a good rose. I would still serve the Jean Luc Colombo Cape Bleue 2010 that I recommended last week! A soft delicate pink with hints of peach, rose petal and pepper on the nose. Subtle, round and full of finesse, it is surprisingly complex, with intriguing notes of raspberries, fresh cherry, black olive and fennel. Available at Cascade in Amenia bottle ($13.49) or at a bargain in a magnum ($19.99)

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