All you really need to make a fabulous tomato salad is a couple of fabulous tomatoes—preferably a mix of heirlooms for a range of flavors and textures—plus a sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh pepper, and a splash of good vinegar and olive oil. It's as simple as that, and then you have a fantastic salad ready for embellishments like great greens, fresh herbs and fruits like watermelon (and this year's favorite partner, peaches), torn bread or croutons, nuts and seeds, cheese, anchovies, and every other protein imaginable. You hardly need a recipe! That said, here are the fantastic four: the recipes I make every summer that I would never have dreamed up on my own.
1. Tomato Salad with Crispy Shallots
I always associate fried shallots with Vietnamese cooking, and I wouldn't automatically think of showering a salad with them, but why not? They're crisp, sweet and only slightly shalloty, awesome with tomatoes, and the perfect echo of the bit of minced shallot macerated in the vinegar for the dressing. Keep the oil the shallots were fried in! It's delicious for cooking eggs, potatoes, zucchini, chicken and anything else you'd enjoy with a mild shallot flavor.
2. Turkish Tomato Salad with Fresh Herbs
This recipe is from Engin Akin, a fabulous Turkish cook and cooking teacher whose amazing new cookbook, Essential Turkish Cuisine, is coming out this October. The salad is chock-full of fresh herbs, scallions and toasted pistachios, and it's drizzled with a tangy pomegranate molasses dressing. Serve it with a slab of feta and some great flatbread for a summery main course!