I feel like I should be sitting in a confessional, leaning in close, talking directly to the camera.
“I didn’t used to like tomatoes,” I would say in a hushed tone. “For years I thought raw tomatoes were gross!” Perhaps this revelation is so shocking that I should ask to be silhouetted with my voice modulated.
It’s true. As a child I hated raw tomatoes. I loved Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Give me artichokes and onions, just about anything Mom put on the dinner table, but I grimaced each year when she asked me to try one bite of a ripe tomato, fresh picked as we stood in her garden.
Nine years ago that started to change and today I love raw tomatoes. I chalk it up to a wiser palate. This past week I decided to venerate the first of this summer’s tomatoes, picked fresh under the hot sun. Two thick slices of beefsteak-type tomatoes didn’t need anything more than salt and pepper, but I went ahead and added a simple balsamic vinaigrette made with fresh basil and garlic scape pesto, fragrant from pounding in the mortar. I fell in love with tomatoes all over again. Then I called my Mom.
Tomato Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 tbs minced garlic scapes
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced basil
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbs olive oil – the good stuff!
- 2 tbs minced shallot
- 3 tbs pesto
- 2-3 tbs aged Balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil – the good stuff!
- Using mortar and pestle, pound garlic or scapes with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt. Then pound in basil, followed by pine nuts, cheese and oil. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt.
- Make dressing: whisk together shallot, pesto and vinegar.
- Whisk in oil in a thin stream. You may not need all the oil. Start with 1/2 cup and taste as you go.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Taste the dressing with a piece of tomato and correct the balance of oil, vinegar and pesto as needed.
- Serve over thick slices of the freshest tomatoes you can find! Top with ribbons of fresh basil.