Tomato Salad with Chives and Balsamic Dressing
A great year-round use of plum tomatoes.
- Servings: 4.
When we think of tomato salads, most of us think of big Jersey beefsteaks or gnarly heirlooms cut into chunks and scattered with fresh mozzarella and basil. But all year long, the firm plum, or Roma tomato can give us an intense tomato flavor in a salad, in this case, one that combines peeled tomatoes with a rich, chive-studded balsamic dressing.
Begin by selecting plum tomatoes that are firm and that have a bright, even red color. Try also to choose ones that are all about the same size so that when you peel them and remove the seeds, you'll have "fillets" that are about the same size. Because this salad really only has two ingredients -- the tomatoes and the chives --- please don't even think about using dried chives which do not get close to the peppery bite of fresh ones.
Finally, use good but not precious balsamic vinegar. This isn't a recipe that demands the use of your aged, $30+ per bottle balsamic vinegar. But don't use that cheap $3.99 a bottle stuff either. There's a mid range of good balsamic vinegars for sale out there, many in the $8 - $12 range (look for one that comes from Modena, Italy). Always buy on flavor and quality, never on the basis of the lowest possible price. You're using teaspoons of this stuff at a time so a bottle should last you a long while.
- 6 to 8 medium-to-large-sized plum tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
- Begin by putting a 3 to 4 quart pot of water on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil.
- Have prepared and standing by near the stove a large bowl of iced water.
- When the water is at a full boil, place the tomatoes into the boiling water and let stay for about 15 to 30 seconds. You want to loosen the skins, not cook the tomatoes. If you're not certain how long that takes, after about 10 seconds, pull out one tomato (using a slotted spoon) and run your fingernail along the skin. If it loosens, it's ready to come out of the boiling water. If it is still tight, put the tomato back into the boiling water for another 10 or so seconds.
- Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking.
- Take each tomato and using a paring knife, remove and discard the skins.
- Slice each tomato in half, cutting the long way, so as to have peeled tomato halves.
- Using a paring or chef's knife, remove the seeds and the rest of the insides of the tomatoes so that you're left with just the skinned tomato flesh. Your goal is to have a bowl of half or quartered tomatoes, minus their skin or seeds.
- In a second, smaller bowl, place the balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Use a fork to stir it until the salt dissolves. As you continue stirring, add the canola oil until it combines. Taste for salt and the balance of oil and acid.
- Pour the dressing over the tomatoes.
- Using a pair of scissors, take a bunch of fresh chives and snip small bits, about 1/8", into the tomatoes. In total, about 2 tablespoons or to taste. Toss to combine.
This salad is made with peeled tomatoes. To help make the peeling easy, briefly place the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, then shock them in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. The skins will then peel off easily.
This salad can be made several hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving.