by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Tricked-Out Heirloom Tomato Salad

The time frame to enjoy your own garden or farmer’s market tomatoes is very short so there is no time to mess around. I think a tomato salad is just about the best way to properly dispose of large quantities of one of the all time best garden items.  A fresh tomato can be eaten like an apple, sliced and just sprinkled with salt, or olive oil and basil, etc. In this recipe I add a few items and hopefully just enough to utilize other things growing in the garden and add a little extra texture and flavor without going overboard. One frequent common mistake is to overly complicate a recipe that features a perfect ingredient to begin with and really would prefer for you just get out of its way so it can do its thing. But hey, if I didn’t add a little something you would not need to bother looking at a recipe in the first place. So, here is a pretty great way to eat a bunch of heirloom tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

3-4 mixed heirloom tomatoes (or a whole bunch more)

1 head of garlic

red onion

apple cider vinegar

honey

olive oil

salt

mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, basil, dill, mint, parsley, chives, etc) 

edible flowers (optional garnish)

I can’t think of a fresh herb I would not add to this salad and I really would suggest finding several to mix in. I like to have a variety of flavors and even clashes of flavors in my mouth to make things interesting. There are two ingredients that need to be prepped ahead of time. The only thing we are going to cook is some roasted garlic and then quick pickle the red onion. As far as edible flowers go, I will list a few of my favorites. Nasturtium is a well known edible flower with a peppery taste. Violets and Pansies are the best looking and just have a slight herby flavor. Sage flowers are a great one if you have them or any flowering herb including Lavender, which is easy to find.

Pickled Red Onions: Slice red onion and add to a pint mason jar. Drop a squirt of honey into jar and then 1 tsp of salt. Next add 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Apply the lid and tighten well. Shake jar and refrigerate at least a few hours and better if overnight.

Roasted Garlic: Cut the top off the head of garlic just enough to expose each clove (see pic below). Drizzle a little olive oil on top and a sprinkle of salt, using your fingers to evenly spread it over the top of the cloves. Place the garlic on a baking sheet, cover with foil, set on rack in the middle of the oven and roast at 375 for 35 minutes. Remove garlic from oven and let it cool for a few minutes before squeezing or picking the roasted cloves out with a fork and placing into a small bowl.

Arranging the salad: You really want to make sure and use a tomato knife or other serrated knife to slice the tomatoes, otherwise they will get mashed up. After slicing arrange on a plate or platter to your liking.

Next add the red onions and garlic gloves.

Drizzle desired amount of olive oil over the tomatoes and then sprinkle with salt.

Finally add the herbs by pinching the leaves off, rather than slicing and place around the plate. Add a few edible flowers to garnish.

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