Naples Tomato Salad
A Perfect Use for Summer's Best Tomatoes
- Servings: 4.
I don't know why this salad is named for Naples but that's what I was told it was called when I first tasted it decades ago. It combines chunks of height-of-summer ripe tomatoes with large pieces of crunchy vegetables in a dressing made mostly from the tomatoes' own juice. Don't even think about making this salad unless the tomatoes are ripe, locally grown and full of juicy flavor. With tomatoes as its centerpiece, this recipe is perfect for New Jersey beefsteaks or farm-grown heritage tomatoes.
Instead of a vinegar or citrus-based dressing, this salad uses a generous dose of salt to bring out the acidic juice from the fresh tomatoes which is then combined with a drizzle of olive oil. This keeps the flavor fresh and dominated by the tomatoes themselves.
This salad is versatile, letting you add anything you like, but it's usually best to add big pieces of ingredients that are firm and can stand up to the acidic, juicy dressing. Sometimes I add medium-sized pasta shells but only just before serving so that the pasta doesn't get soggy from the tomato juices.
This salad is a perfect side to any fish or a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or simply served with a great bread and plate of assorted cheeses.
- 2 to 4 large fresh, locally grown ripe tomatoes, cut into big chunks and wedges to make about 4 cups of tomatoes
- 2 stalks celery, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces; the more tender, inner stalks are better for this than the outer, coarser ones
- 1/2 medium-to-large red onion cut into medium (1/2-inch) dice or slices
- 1 cup radishes; cut the large ones into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup kirbies or seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 1/3 cup oil-cured black olives
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt (good sea salt or kosher salt)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cut the tomatoes into large chunks, about 1 to 1-1/2 inch each. Peel the tomatoes if the skins are thick. Cut the pieces over your salad bowl so as to capture any juice that may run out of the tomatoes as you cut them. Remove any thick, white core so that your bowl is filled with beautiful pieces of juicy red tomato chunks.
- Salt the tomato pieces generously, with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt for each cup of tomato pieces, and toss to combine. Let the bowl of salted tomatoes sit for about 10 minutes, during which time the salt will draw out the juices.
- Add the pieces of celery, onion, radishes, kirbies, and the olives to the juicy, salted tomatoes.
- Sprinkle with the minced basil and mint and about 4 grinds of black pepper.
- Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- Toss to combine.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil, if necessary.
- Serve at room temperature.