A good chunk of each summer when I was a kid was spent at my grandparents' house in Bryson City, NC. Every day was pretty much the same: clean house, play cards, read a lot of books, beat up the younger cousins, occasionally go swimming at Deep Creek, and snap a lot of green beans. And eat tomatoes. They weren't fancy, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, just plain old Big Beef and Better Boy, but in my childhood memories they were the most delicious tomatoes I have ever eaten in my life. They didn't even need basil or fresh mozzarella and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P., just salt and pepper.
Fast forward to now, when tomatoes are coming out one's ears and ears of corn are coming out one's...tomatoes?. I admit to being drawn to the colorful heirloom tomatoes- and how could you not with names like Mr. Stripey or Green Zebra or Cherokee Chocolate?! They and the equally adorable multi-colored cherry tomatoes have been gracing the Portlandivore dinner menu more often than not these days- especially since it's been over 90 degrees most days since early July and the last thing I want to do after plopping on the couch in my un-airconditioned apartment after coming home from work is fire up the oven and bake eleventy things for dinner... All this salad really needs to make for a satisfying summer supper is a hunk of crusty bread for mopping up the vinaigrette and tomato-y goodness at the bottom of the bowl.
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
handful of fresh basil leaves (about 12)
freshly ground black pepper
large-flake sea salt
In a medium sized glass or non-reactive metal bowl, crush or bruise the basil leaves (this will bring out their flavor while they steep in the vinaigrette). Add the chopped shallots and garlic to the bowl, then pour over the red wine vinegar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature (60 minutes is even better) to soften the harsh bite of raw onion/garlic. Pick out the basil leaves, then whisk in the olive oil. I add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to the vinaigrette to finish.
This makes extra vinaigrette, which will keep for a week in the refrigerator and gives you a solid excuse to keep serving this salad to friends/boyfriends/yourself instead of cooking something for dinner.
2 large heirloom (or any other tasty variety, really) tomatoes
1/2 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes
1 ear of fresh corn (I like the bi-color corn for sweetness and color)
small handful of basil leaves, sliced or cut with handy kitchen shears into thin ribbons
Thinly slice the large tomatoes into rounds of even thickness and arrange on a large platter (or split up evenly among 3-4 plates if you want to compose the salad for individual servings). Halve the cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle them over top the tomato slices. Cut the kernels off the ear of corn and sprinkle them over top of the tomatoes. Pour some of the vinaigrette over the salad, spooning out garlic and shallots evenly over the tomatoes. Finally, garnish the salad liberally with the ribbons of sliced basil. Please eat this with a hunk of tasty baguette, you'll thank me.