ode to tomatoes: heirloom tomato salad with lemon mint vinaigrette

freestyle friday
notes from maggie's farm

Ode To Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda

The street filled with tomatoes,
midday, summer, light is halved like a tomato,
its juice runs through the streets.
In December, unabated, the tomato invades the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime, takes its ease on countertops,
among glasses, butter dishes, blue saltcellars.
It sheds its own light, benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must murder it:  the knife sinks
into living flesh, red viscera a cool sun, profound, inexhaustible,
populates the salads of Chile, happily, it is wed to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union we pour oil, essential child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres, pepper adds its fragrance, salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding of the day, parsley hoists its flag, potatoes bubble vigorously,
the aroma of the roast knocks at the door, it's time! come on!
and, on the table, at the midpoint of summer, the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent and fertile star, displays its convolutions,
its canals, its remarkable amplitude and abundance, no pit,
no husk, no leaves or thorns, the tomato offers its gift of fiery color
and cool completeness.

Yeah, me and Pablo--we love a good tomato.  Whether our summer occurs in December, or June, the thought is the same, and looks as if our ways of enjoying the fruit of the earth is pretty similar, too!  This recipe, simple, unprocessed, no artificial ingredients is a beginning (and ending) of the season ritual, our ode, if you will.  It's a favorite way to showcase a treasure more valuable than gold, heirloom tomatoes--

heirloom tomato salad with lemon mint vinaigrette on middle eastern spiced baked rice cakes

for salad, you will need:

3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes
1 small red onion
one bunch fresh mint, de-stemmed
3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (to taste)
zest of lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fleur de sel (unprocessed salt)

In a blender or food processor, combine mint leaves, juice and zest of lemon, garlic, pepper, and fleur de sel.  Process until finely minced.  As blender or processor runs, add oil, a few drops at a time at first, and then in a light stream, blending until oil is fully incorporated.  Adjust seasonings. (No processor or blender?  No problem.  Mince herbs finely, add lemon zest, garlic, pepper, and fleur de sel in a heavy bowl (that will stay in place during all this activity) Slowly stream olive oil over all, while whisking briskly, until oil is well incorporated.)

Slice tomatoes roughly 1/4" thick and layer with thinly sliced red onion rings.  Spoon dressing over, making certain to drizzle between overlapping slices.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours.

As salad marinates, prepare rice cakes.

middle eastern spiced baked rice cakes

you will need:
2 cups brown basmati rice, prepared according to package directions
1/2 c ricotta cheese, we used our homemade ricotta (you could also use a mild feta for a little heftier tangy kick)
2 whole eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup loosely chopped parsley
2 tsp lemon zest

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Oil 4 individual ramekins, and pack with rice mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or just until browning begins. (you should notice a little bubbling).  Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.  Unmold on serving plates.  Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Top rice cake with marinated cold heirloom tomato salad.  Drizzle dressing over.

We hope you enjoy this as much as we do!  We usually double the batch and enjoy leftovers.  With all due respect to the spirit of simplicity, and the starring role which heirloom tomatoes deserve, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you that this heirloom tomato salad makes an absolute masterpiece of a meal when topping a juicy hamburger.  

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.

Lewis Grizzard



  1. YUM! Looks divine. Your pictures are lovely, as usual:) My garden is finally producing...just a little here and there. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Before you no it, you'll have so much on your hands you won't know where to stash all your garden-goodies! Have a lovely weekend, too!

  2. Looks so delicious. I have two tomato plants growing this year and a pepper plant..So far I have a few flowers on each. Can't wait to see how they do. The herb garden is doing great.

  3. Our tomatoes seems to be coming in later than the 'city folk', but we are actually one zone away, and probably planted them at least two weeks later, if not longer. I'm not much for getting them in too early and doing all the hoop house and covering you have to do at night. But, little by little, they are coming along. Next week, I'll probably have more than I can handle!
    Hope you have a great weekend, Winnie!

  4. Our garden is in full swing. Husband canned all the green beans he could handle and is giving it away to family and friends now. Ditto the yellow squash and cucumbers. We have been enjoying lettuce for weeks now too, and the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen. I will have to try this recipe on hamburgers, it sounds wonderful. I wonder how the vinaigrette would taste if fresh lemon basil was substituted. I have a large pot with herbs growing. Just dill, thyme, lemon basil, basil, and cilantro. I don't have much of a green thumb, but am trying harder this year, as I received some lovely flowers for Mother's Day, and got brave and planted more. :D We'll see. Thank goodness the husband has a green thumb, and we live in a climate conducive to plants and growing.

    1. I think basil would be wonderful! Lemon+tomatoes+basil= YES! Congratulations for having that green-thumbed husband. Both my husband and I are not natural gardeners, we've learned most of our lessons through failure, in fact...teeheeehee. Thanks for dropping by, and let me know how the substitution goes!


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