Make this summer beauty—heirloom tomato, fresh basil, and feta cheese salad—while tomatoes are in season.
If you’re a tomato fan but never tried a fresh heirloom tomato—and you’re fortunate enough to have them available where you live, just get ‘em! They’re awesome!
Heirloom tomatoes are tomato varieties of different sizes, shapes and colors that have been passed down from generation to generation to maintain their favorable flavor, color and texture characteristics. Heirlooms are most plentifully available at the end of summer and are best when they’ve been ripened on the vine taken fresh off the field.
I got the gigantic gorgeous yellow and slightly red heirloom tomato along with the fresh basil and red onion to make the salad shown here at a local farm stand in Northborough, Massachusetts. And though heirloom tomatoes can be had just as they are plain or any way you want, the salad you see here is “chop, slice and pour” easy to make and sings with summer-fresh flavor!
Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes
1-2 Heirloom Tomatoes (the one shown below is unusually large)
2-3 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Red (or any) Onion
Handful of Fresh Basil
Feta Cheese (can be substituted with Parmesan or any cheese)
Balsamic (or any) Vinegar
Ground Black Pepper
Sharp (Chef’s) Knife
1. Rinse and shake dry 1-2 heirloom tomatoes and a handful of fresh basil.
2. For larger tomatoes, carefully use a sharp knife to make a cone-shaped cut at the top of the tomato to remove the tough, fibrous stem patch.
Cut the tomato(es) into slices 1/4-1/2 inch (6-12 mm) wide.
3. Pinch the basil leaves from their stems with your thumb and forefinger. Then bunch and hold the basil to the cutting board with curled fingers, and cut the leaves into pieces 1/8 – 1/4 inch (3-6 mm) wide.
Finish by chopping the basil coarsely into smaller pieces about like this.
4. Put 2-3 garlic cloves on the cutting board. Cover them with the flat side of a wide bladed (chef’s) knife. Press on the top flat side of the knife with the heel of your hand until you hear and feel the garlic skins pop open.
Peel the garlic skin. Then hold the garlic cloves securely to the cutting board with curled fingers, and let the side of the knife blade touch and glide along your curled knuckles as you cut the garlic into thin slices about 1/8 inch wide.
Finish by chopping the garlic slices into smaller pieces about as shown.
5. Cut a red (or any) onion in half, and cut one of those halves in half again.
Cut off the tough onion stem and root ends, peel the onion skin, and …
… cut thin slices about 1/8 – 1/4 inch (3-6 mm) wide.
6. Put the tomato slices on a plate so that they overlap evenly about as shown.
… sliced onion …
… crumbled feta (or any) cheese, and …
… chopped basil.
7. Pour on a good shot of both balsamic (or any) vinegar and …
… olive oil, and …
… finish with a light shake of salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Images courtesy of Bruce Tretter