Time for Tomatoes!
How to make the vinaigrette
BY TOM YATES
We’re still waiting for our heirloom tomato plants to mature and ripen.
Coupled with our weird backyard micro-climate that slows growth, we planted our tomatoes late. Tucked behind nine foot high old wooden fences, we water our potted tomatoes, baby them, and wait.
We wait and enjoy the fruits of the farmers’ market. While most of the tomatoes at the market are hydroponic or greenhouse grown this early in the season, some gorgeous vine ripened field grown heirloom varieties have started to arrive.
Some accidents are happy accidents.
Case in point? A simple little salad to take on the run for a snack between events. I tumbled diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and candy onions into a small disposable container. After drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil, I splashed the market vegetables with white wine vinegar before crumbling fresh chevre over the top. Nothing fancy. No big deal. Here’s the deal, salads on the go get jostled around. By the time I got around to eating my marinated salad, the goat cheese had swirled through the olive oil and vinegar, creating an unexpected cheese-speckled vinaigrette for the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. A happy accidental win.
As haphazard as it was, I’ve found that it works with any vinaigrette. Whether homemade or store bought, it just doesn’t matter. Fleck fresh chevre into a vinaigrette and let the creamy bits float around or whisk them into a creamy emulsion. The combination is unexpected and fantastic.
Heirloom Tomatoes with Tomato-Chevre Vinaigrette.
While I fall for the pretty ones like most folks, I’m always lured by the siren song and drawn to the uglies. Happily serenaded and shipwrecked.
The beasts and the beauties.
After quartering/halving a few meaty Orange Persimmon, sugary Sun Gold, mellow Yellow Roma Banana Legs, smoky Chocolate Cherry, plummy Indigo Rose, and achingly ripe red Carmellow tomatoes, I tossed them with slivered candy onions before finishing with a scattering of fresh basil.
Armed with a few “Uglies But Goodies,” I went full out tomato on tomato with a tomato vinaigrette. I’ve done the cheesecloth-lined drippity drip pure tomato water thing. While it’s a great way to capture the essence of tomatoes, it takes a very long time (up to 24 hours) for the magic to happen. Drip…drip…drip. To harness the same essence without all the fuss, I simply cored the tomatoes, sliced away the dried splitting seams, chopped the tomatoes into 1″ pieces, pureed them in a blender (seeds and peels), passed the puree through a fine mesh strainer, mashed the pulp to release every drop of tomato-ness, and set the jus aside.
To whisk or not to whisk? Although emulsified creamy vinaigrettes are fine and dandy, they can be a bit heavy handed when dressing fresh summer tomatoes, so I kept it loosey-goosey by opting for a broken vinaigrette. I combined 1/4 cup tomato jus with 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon local honey, and 1/2 cup olive oil. After adding a pinch of salt and ground white pepper, I gave the mix a gentle stir before flecking creamy bits of Bluegrass Chevre into the vinaigrette.
Gorgeous heirlooms kissed with a fresh tomato-chevre vinaigrette.
Vibrant summer sweetness.
Soft bright acidity.
Subtle creamy tang.
Tomatoes on tomatoes.
This article also appears on page 11 of the June 2018 print edition of Ace.
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