It took a very long time for our garden's tomatoes to begin ripening, but three of our plants have started coming-of-age as of late. Our current MVP is a yellow and pale orange tomato that grows to the size of a slightly smushed softball; it seems like every day we rescue another fruit about to tear itself from the plant with its weight, and they've proven to be excellent keeping tomatoes so we don't shy away from picking them even when they won't be eaten for a number of days. Sadly, the stakes we had in front of each plant are faded or have been redistributed by Lucca, so I don't actually remember the name of the variety (they are yellow with a peach-colored star pattern on the blossom end... Bueller? Bueller?). I just call them Tequila Sunrise Butt tomatoes in my head. And sometimes out loud.
This recipe is one of those ones you make when you look at the tomatoes on your counter and think "what the pajamas am I going to do with these." I'll tell you what you're going to do. You're going to grab the jar of capers that sits in your fridge for such emergencies, dice up a lonely red onion, and crumble the end of a wedge of Pecorino Romano and you're gonna make some MAGIC.
Salad magic, that is.
Mix and match ingredients and kinds of tomatoes depending on what you have on hand. No white balsamic? White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even lemon juice would be delicious. No red onion? Shallots or chives would be lovely (as would green onion, but I'd reduce the quantity a bit so it doesn't smack you too hard in the face). If you want to be fancy, of course you can shave the cheese if you prefer, but I happen to like the rustic quality of broken crumbles of pecorino. Not to mention there is something so decadent about eating large pieces of sharp aged cheese, and the fact that there are a limited number of pieces in the salad makes the times you do bite into the cheese extraordinarily flavorful.
Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Capers, and Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup finely diced (1/4 inch dice at largest) red onion
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
large pinch kosher salt (about 1/3-1/2 teaspoon)
2 grinds black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds total mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced and cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup crumbled Pecorino Romano, or other hard sheep's milk cheese
Place the onion in a small bowl, and add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes so the salt has time to dissolve and the onion absorbs a little of the seasoning. Add the olive oil, mix to combine, and set aside.
Arrange the tomatoes on a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon the dressing evenly over the tomatoes. Scatter the capers over the dressing, and top with the crumbled Pecorino Romano. Serve immediately.
Serving Suggestion (omnivorous): include as a topping on a steak sandwich with arugula, or as a relish over a pan-seared steak or grilled salmon (you may choose to omit the cheese if you serve this over fish, as fish and cheese are not always friends).
Serving Suggestion (vegetarian): serve over grilled eggplant and summer squash and alongside polenta.