This was the salad served at my Impromptu Dinner Party.
Life has thrown several twists and turns this week, which has kept me fairly distracted. Admittedly, I’m just now catching up on writing the rest of the posts for my Impromptu Dinner Party. I know, I know. I should have written these in advance, and set them up in a queue like a good blogger. But, what can I say? Sometimes I need to catch up on living life for a moment so I can write about it.
Right now I’m sitting on my back patio listening to the hum of my neighbor’s lawn mower as he tackles the jungle that emerged from the recent rains. There are two smells that tell me its summer. The first is the scent of fresh cut grass. I love how the fragrance lingers in the early evening hours like a gentle kiss from Mother Nature. The other is the delicious aroma of vine ripened tomatoes. Their intense red color of the juicy flesh contrasted against rich green leaves make for a purely heavenly salad. It’s still a little early for local tomatoes to make an appearance at the Pittsburgh farmers markets, but for this dinner party, the store bought ones worked just the same.
Tomato Feta Salad
1 pint cherry tomatoes, kept whole
2 beef steak tomatoes, wedged
4 small vine ripened tomatoes, wedged
4 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tbl. fresh basil, minced
1 Tbl. olive oil
Allow the tomatoes to get to room temperature before slicing them. Arrange the tomatoes in a shallow platter and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the feta cheese and basil over the top. Serve with the Basil Parsley Vinaigrette. Serves 4 – 6 people as a side.
Basil Parsley Vinaigrette
Inspired by Food & Wine Magazine
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 Tbl. garlic, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ Tbl. red wine vinegar
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse the basil, parsley, garlic, mustard, vinegar and red pepper in a food processor until well chopped. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the basil mixture until the vinaigrette emulsifies and becomes a light green color. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the salad.
Authors Note: Since it’s really the only ingredient, I have found it’s absolutely critical to bring the tomatoes to room temperature before serving this salad. It is the best way to let all the rich flavors of the tomatoes come out and shine. Also, my favorite way of serving this salad is by using a variety of colorful heirloom tomatoes to get the salad even more visual interest.