74. heirloom tomato salad

join us in welcoming back our food + wine contributor, kimberly scott. she's making the most of her late-summer harvest and sharing a simple and delicious recipe for heirloom tomato salad:

a perfect moment - heirloom tomato salad and sparkling gamay:

when snow was above my head in every direction, the idea of summer seemed impossible. now, as the air is still thick and i am melting in the heat, those drifts seem like an impossibility. this is the dramatic seasonality of massachusetts. the arctic tundra turns lush and pours out a rich bounty of fruits and vegetables. now we drown in a waterfall of summer squash, corn, and the noble tomato. fall will soon be upon us. winter is coming. time to get cooking.

heirloom tomato salad with toasted sesame basil vinaigrette
it can't get much more simple than this. that said, a little extra attention to detail goes a long way, taking something from the everyday to the phenomenal.

when searching for the perfect tomato, look for a weight and a visceral suppleness to the flesh. resist bruising the fruit: instead, use your pinky, your weakest finger, to gently push on the surface. if there is a sense of give, this is ripeness. it will also have a scent, a blooming aroma off the skin. the trick to the most beautiful salad is to select several different colors and sizes, which will provide variety not only for the eye, but in flavor and texture.

i like to halve cherry-sized varieties and slice others to 1/3 of an inch. this provides just enough meatiness while staying delicate and absorbing a healthy amount of vinaigrette.

to make the vinaigrette:
15 basil leaves chiffonade
1 small shallot, small dice
2 teaspoons yuzu juice (found in some asian groceries, it can be replaced with lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chinese rice cooking wine
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
pinch or two of salt

combine all ingredients and stir.

spoon the vinaigrette over the tomatoes in a bowl and then gently toss with your hands, avoiding bruising or breaking the tomatoes' flesh. let sit for five minutes.

while they sit, pick additional leaves of basil to garnish finished dish.

arrange tomatoes on the plate, mixing size and color to vary them, then spoon any of the juices from the bowl over them. top with additional basil leaves and arrive at your delicious destination.

serving this with cheese is optional. if you're going to serve this as a side dish instead of a centerpiece, it's not necessary. if you do opt for cheese, fresh mozzarella or feta is a classic, but feel free to experiment. a bloomy-rinded goat cheese or dollops of triple creme could also be divine. either way, the cheese goes last.

paired with domaine la boheme festejar
a beautiful sparkling rose made with gamay from the auvergne region of central france. from a tiny plot of old vines, this pet-nat is juicy and refreshing, mirroring the lushness of the tomatoes. fall may be upon us, but we can still fill our stomachs with summer.

as always, seek out the good people at the wine bottega for the selected wine. i warn you, prepare to leave with more than one bottle, as there are too many delicious things to explore there.

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