By Chris De La Rosa
PRIDE Cuisine Specialist
Where did the taste, flavor and scent of tomatoes go? As a kid on the islands I remember helping mom and dad in the garden, which meant getting between the tomato bushes during harvest time to pick those lovely beauties off the tree (yes, I’ve had a love affair with tomatoes since as early as I can remember). The scent of the tomatoes would remain on your hands for a full day (or two), even after you’ve washed with soap and water. Back then I didn’t care much for the scent (or the itch from being between those buses in that HOT Caribbean sun), but oh how I miss that lovely aroma from the ‘pretty’ store bought tomatoes we get in North America.
With a good crop of heirloom tomatoes this past summer, I thought I’d share a quick and delicious way to enjoy a tasty tomato salad. I grew my own tomatoes (very much like the ones I grew up enjoying), but you can now go to the ‘organic’ section of your grocery store and find them there.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 small white habanero peppers (optional)
1/2 small red onion
1 tablespoon parsley (mint or basil)
2 tablespoon goat cheese (crumbled)
Plus you can also add some chopped walnuts, balsamic vinegar, cucumber and avocado if you wish.
Note: I used about 4-6 cups of tomato in total (mix of both heirloom and grape).
Wash and prep all the ingredients for the salad. Using a pairing knife, remove the stems off the tomatoes then slice in different shapes and thickness. I like cutting a cross at the bottom of the grape tomatoes (not deep) so we can get them to bleed out some of their sweetness and to get the flavors of the lemon juice, herbs and onion infused in them. By cutting the larger tomatoes in different sizes and shapes (rounds and wedges) you’ll find that the finished salad will be more ‘eye-catching’!
Slice the onion relatively thin (in rounds), if using a hot pepper (white habanero or whatever you like or have) be sure to dice if very finely and chop the parsley.
Basically all you have to do now is add everything (except the cheese) to a large bowl and gently mix. The tomatoes will have the tendency to break apart, so do be gentle. I would recommend serving immediately after mixing everything together or give it about 5 minutes to let the tomatoes release some of it’s wonderful natural juices. If you’re making this ahead of time, do not go in with the goat cheese, salt, lemon juice and olive oil until you’re close to serving. Remember to only top with the goat cheese (no need to mix in).
If you’re like me and know what ‘real’ tomatoes are supposed to taste like (and miss them) I recommend trying your hands at growing heirloom tomatoes in your garden (grows well in containers as well). You can get the seeds online and most plant nurseries stock the baby plants in the spring.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections globally every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource of Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.