Whew! For a week or more now, St. Louisans have been worrying whether the 2008 tomato crop would be worth eating. Perhaps because of a long, damp and cool spring, the early tomatoes were mealy and flavorless. The heirlooms were worse, scaly on the outside with dense pockets of inedible flesh inside.
What a difference some hot summer sunshine makes! These tomatoes from my hometown farmers market were gorgeous, definitely worthy of this oh-so-simple treatment that adds up to way more than the sum of its parts.
There are two tricks here. The first is the effect of soaking the thin-sliced onions in ice water for a half water, releasing the sharpness. The second is letting the thin-sliced tomatoes macerate in a little sugar, a little salt, just a splash of olive oil and vinegar, also for 30 minutes.
These tomatoes, tomato lovers, were worth waiting for.
TOMATO & ONION SALAD
Time to table: 45 minutes
1 pound perfect summer tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (thinness is important)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (yes, just a little)
Light sprinkling of good salt (I used Maldon)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 teaspoon good vinegar (red wine, champagne, even balsamic)
Few leaves fresh mint, sliced in narrow strips (don't skip this)
1 small onion, sliced thin, separated into rings, soaked in ice water for 30 minutes, drained
Arrange tomatoes on a serving plate. Sprinkle with sugar and salt. (If arranging in two layers, use half on the first layer, half on the second.) Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Let rest for 30 minutes. Top with mint and onion rings. Enjoy ...
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Timing is important here. After 30 minutes, the tomatoes are still firm and perfect. After much longer, they become slightly mushy and just not as good.
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