Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta & Oregano Flowers


So far, September seems to be tomato month. This is my third tomato based recipe this month. It wasn't planned that way...but, with people's gardens overflowing with them, it's been hard to avoid. Maybe it's my attempt at hanging onto the last glimpse of summer?
As I mentioned a few posts ago, we haven't had much luck with our heirloom tomatoes this year, as I planted them in a location that's not getting enough sun to ripen them. Well, since then, we got two ripe ones! In addition to that I got a big bowl of garden goodies from my mother...about a dozen big tomatoes, a few peppers & some of her delicious homegrown garlic. Then yesterday, a neighbor stopped by with a few of her tomatoes & a red bell pepper. So, I had a huge abundance & this is what I decided to make with some of them.
Growing up, my mother & my grandmother used to make summer salads with big chunks of tomatoes & cucumbers, or peppers, sprinkled with lots of garden oregano. It's still, to this day, one of my most favorite salads.
Normally, I am not a huge green bell pepper fan. That is, unless they're homegrown. Something about the thin-skinned garden variety tastes so much better to me than store bought. It's not just me either...the Bozo's have been eating them for the past week, sliced in their lunch boxes.
This recipe is my interpretation of my family's classic. It's flexible & if you don't have green peppers from a garden, I recommend using red, yellow, or orange ones instead...or, you can substitute cucumbers also. Right now, my oregano plant has gone to flower. I love oregano flowers. Not just in an arrangement, because they are so sweet looking...but, because they have tons of flavor & look just as pretty on a plate as they do in a vase.

Begin with 2 pounds of ripe assorted heirloom tomatoes & 1 large bell pepper {I used 2 small ones instead}. Cut the tomatoes into medium sized uneven chunks. I sliced some of them & cut some into chunks. Seed the pepper & cut into bite sized pieces.

Place the tomatoes into a large colander & sprinkle them with a few pinches of kosher salt. Give them a gentle stir & then another pinch, or two, of salt. Let them sit for 15 minutes.

Next, you will need some garlic, fresh oregano, 1 1/2 ounces of feta cheese & some oregano flowers {if you can manage to find some}.

Mince one clove of garlic. Add it to a small bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of minced oregano & 1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar. Whisk to combine. Slowly add in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, while whisking, to form an emulsion.
Cut the feta into small pieces.

Gently combine the peppers & tomatoes. Arrange them on a serving platter & sprinkle with the diced feta. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, garnish with the oregano flowers & serve.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta & Oregano Flowers

Serves 4
Oregano plants begin flowering in late summer. If you grow oregano, or can manage to find some oregano flowers, they are packed with flavor & look beautiful sprinkled on top of this salad. White balsamic vinegar is milder than traditional balsamic & will not effect the color of the salad, as the traditional would. If you cannot find it, you can substitute some white wine vinegar.

Salting the tomatoes before arranging the salad helps draw out some excess moisture & really intensifies their fresh tomato flavor.

2 pounds assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes
1 large bell pepper {any color}, seeded & cut into chunks
kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 ounces feta, cut into small bits, or crumbled
oregano flowers, for garnish

Begin my slicing the tomatoes into medium sized, uneven chunks. I like to vary the shapes, large dicing some of them & slicing others. Place them into a large colander & sprinkle them with a few pinches of kosher salt. Give them a gentle stir & then another pinch, or two, of salt. Let them sit for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, minced oregano & vinegar. Whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil, while whisking, to form an emulsion.
Gently combine the peppers & tomatoes. Arrange them on a serving platter & sprinkle with the diced feta. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, garnish with the oregano flowers & serve.
Click here for the printable recipe.

4 comments:

ballet news said...

oh my goodness ! I can smell those tomatoes and my stomach is rumbling already... thank you !

Grace said...

love the recipe ML! I could eat this one every day I think!

Anonymous said...

Do they have to be heirloom tomatoes or can any summer tomato that we've grown (most are just garden-variety-purchased-at-lowes types :) work in this recipe? Thanks! New to the blog but really enjoying it! Molly Payne-Hardin (Pensacola, FL) mollypaynehardin(at)yahoo

kate said...

Hi Molly,
Absolutely! Honestly, I had quite the assortment & they were not all "heirlooms"
Thanks!

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