It feels like tomatoes have taken a while to arrive this year. Maybe it’s because my own tomatoes didn’t make it through a June trip away from the garden, or maybe it’s the cycles of rain and blistering heat that have delayed my CSA’s harvest, but I’ve been anxious to eat as many tomatoes as I can this year. While I have the satisfaction of good, sweet basil that is performing well in my garden, alongside my abundant cucumbers, these plants really need tomatoes to shine!
Fresh summer tomatoes always feel extra special to me. What better way to highlight something that needs little alteration than a simple tomato salad with big, fat, radiant slicers! I took an extra minute to roast some garlic to dress this salad, which lent an extra layer of flavor that made the salad all the more delicious! I was extra excited for this salad to incorporate fresh mozzarella – my first ever batch of homemade mozzarella cheese! Sometimes I get tired of heat, dry gardening, and mosquitoes, but meals like this remind me that summer really is a delicious rare feast that shouldn’t be missed!
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large very ripe slicing heirloom tomato
- 1 slicing cucumber
- 1 small ball fresh Mozzarella (optional)
- 2-4 oz Prosciutto (optional)
- 4-6 sprigs of basil (flat-leaf Italian variety like Genovese)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice and/or Balsamic vinegar
- Sea Salt
- Black pepper
- First, roast the garlic. Break the cloves away from the bulb but do not peel. I prefer to roast in a dry cast iron pan over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, turning occasionally until soft when pressed, but not starting to ooze and brown. The skins will darken and maybe burn a bit, but that’s ok. Get the garlic just soft, checking occasionally, then remove from the heat to cool for a bit.
- Meanwhile, core the tomato and cut it into big, bite-sized slices. Peel the cucumber and cut into big bite-sized slices. Cut the fresh mozzarella into similar sized pieces. Tear the prosciutto and basil into bite-sized pieces. Combine all of these in a bowl.
- When the garlic is cool enough to touch, peel and add the roasted garlic to a mortar and pestle. Squeeze half a lemon onto the garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of sea salt, and a good shake of black pepper to start. Grind into a mixed paste.
- Add the garlic sauce to the tomato salad and toss to incorporate. Add a small drizzle of Balsamic vinegar, another small sprinkle of salt, and a few shakes of black pepper. Taste and add any extra the acid (lemon), olive oil, and salt that you prefer. Bon appetit!