Simplicity. That’s the magic of in-season produce. Does anything compare to the unassuming brilliance of a sliced tomato at the peak of freshness? Its flavor is so poignant and almost ethereally delicious. Ripe summer tomatoes don’t need a lot of fanfare or other ingredients to hide behind. Wise cooks appreciate this fact by only adding ingredients that complement and celebrate its flavor.
This simple heirloom tomato salad is just that; a celebration of the simplicity of fresh tomatoes. Delicious and nutritious, tomatoes are a source of vitamin A, C, potassium and folate. They are also loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that may help prevent heart disease and some types of cancer. Tossed with fresh basil and dressed with heart-healthy walnut oil, it packs a nutritious punch. A finishing drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction adds the perfect tang to balance the earthy richness of the tomatoes.
Food Safety Tip: While it’s best to store whole, fresh tomatoes at room temperature, once they have been cut, they should be eaten right away or refrigerated. Be sure to keep your food safe by setting your refrigerator to 40°F or below. An appliance thermometer is the best way to monitor the temperature inside your refrigerator, if you don’t have one, now’s the time to make the investment.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Balsamic Reduction
- 1 ½ pounds heirloom tomatoes (substitute any ripe tomatoes)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- 4 ounces fresh ciliegine (“cherry-size”) mozzarella, sliced or quartered
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil (substitute good olive oil or grapeseed oil)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- To a small sauce pan add the vinegar. Set the pan over medium heat. Bring vinegar to a simmer. Continue simmering until the mixture is reduced to about 2/3 of its original volume, about 15 minutes.
- Wash and core the tomatoes. Cut into bite-sized cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the basil, mozzarella and freshly cracked black pepper to the bowl and toss gently to combine.
- Portion about 1 cup of the tomato mixture onto individual plates or bowls. Drizzle with walnut oil and balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.
- If not using balsamic reduction immediately, allow it to cool, then store, covered in the refrigerator at 40°F or below.