Saturday, September 1, 2012

My mother's tomato salad

This is a salad my mother has always made for guests. It's the perfect dish to kick off a dinner with - smooth, fruity, succulent and pretty. It's become a staple of my repertoire as well, and I've given the recipe out to countless people.

I go to farmers' markets to seek out ultra ripe beefsteak tomatoes. In Japan, my mother complains that tomatoes nowadays are about as tender as potatoes and probably a little drier. Seek out the ripest wettest tomatoes you can!

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, very very ripe
1 medium apple
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
a few shakes of freshly ground pepper

With a sharp knife, puncture the bottom of the tomatoes with a "x." Put a small pot (or saucepan) of water to boil.

When the water is boiling, gently drop in the tomatoes. (If you have a large number of tomatoes, use a small sauce pan anyway and do them in batches. This step takes almost no time and you can't let the tomatoes sit in the boiling water for long.)

If your tomatoes are really ripe, the skins should burst and start peeling back within seconds. Pour a few dollops of boiling water of the entire tomato (the part not submerged) and lift them out and drop into a bowl filled with water and ice.

Slip the skins off with your fingers and leave on a plate or colander so that the excess water will drain. Put in the fridge until very cold or until serving time.

In the meanwhile, peel an apple and grate it to a puree. Immediately add lemon juice to stop the apple from oxidizing and turning brown. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until use.

With a small sharp knife, remove the core (the top) of the tomato. Handle carefully; if your tomato is as ripe as it should be, it will squish. Slice the tomatoes about a third of an inch (8 mm) thick and arrange on a plate.

Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and serve immediately. Remember, this dish should be very cold! I usually refrigerate the plate as well.

And if you have leftovers... the next day they don't look as pretty, but they are so good you seriously want to drink all the liquid - which I did!


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