During tomato season, it’s tempting to pile these luscious fruit that we treat like a vegetable along with cheese and other ingredients into the ubiquitous tomato salads that pop up on restaurant menus in many guises. Don’t get me wrong; I love those tasty towers of tomato and I’ve got some recipes here. But sometimes, a lighter approach is desirable.
Voila! Simply add standard tomato salad ingredients to mixed greens and you get all the yum factor of a tomato salad without as many calories. On the tomato salad side, my regular mixture is multi-colored tomatoes (any size), good olives, feta cheese and strands of fresh basil. On the greens side, I use my favorite lettuces from the farmers market (see below) or any salad greens that are available.
The dressing couldn’t be easier. As described in an earlier post, I’ve long since stopped mixing vinaigrettes then pouring them onto a salad. Totally unnecessary. You need only dump in the vinegar and oil and toss it with the greens and the result is light, flavorful and so easy.
While any of your favorite vinegars will probably be fine, after sampling all kinds of vinegars, I’ve settled on a pair of tomato vinegars that really ramp up the taste of this salad.
It’s not easy to find these in stores so I order them online. I use about half and half A L’Olivier tomato vinegar (in the middle above) and Mutti tomato vinegar (on the right above), which is an Italian import. They’re very different but nicely complementary. The first one is sweetish and tastes like slightly tart fresh tomato juice. The other one is intense, more sour and is sort of like sun-dried tomatoes turned into vinegar. You’ll enjoy them for other uses so think about getting some. Or just use balsamic vinegar.
My standard olive oil is pretty much anything from California Olive Oil Company. Their products are amazingly flavorful and low cost compared to many others.
I haven’t put amounts below. Simply use the amount required or that seems right to you.
Greens – I buy the galisse and little gem lettuce from Blue Heron Farms at the downtown farmers market. This is THE lettuce place, imho. The salad should have about 3/4 lettuce and 1/4 tomatoes and other stuff by volume, but feel free to tweak this proportion.
Tomatoes – Use tasty heirlooms. Sweet cherry tomatoes are good too. I cut everything into bite-sized pieces before adding to the greens in the bowl.
Olives – I stroll the olive bin at Whole Foods and usually end up with a mixture of green Sicilian, green Castelvitrino and Nicoise olives, but that’s because I like those the best. Use your own favorites of whatever color. Don’t bother to pit them unless you must. I don’t cut them up, either, but you can.
Cheese – French feta is my go-to feta. It is less salty and has a nicer taste than the other versions of feta. I cube it and dump it in, along with some shredded basil.
As described in my salad post linked above, I use 2/3 olive oil to 1/3 vinegar but I dump some extra Italian tomato vinegar in for extra pop.