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Make This Now: Smoky and Sweet Tomato Salad

Posted Aug 28 2010 8:00am

I have an addiction, one that can only be indulged for a few weeks every year. Heirloom tomatoes rule my kitchen late in the summertime. I hardly go a day without chopping them up into a dish, slicing them onto a sandwich, or just sprinkling them with a little salt and eating them whole. At the farmer’s market we’ve been lucky to get many different kinds of heirloom cherry tomato, and I greedily scoop up a pint of each, weighing myself down with several pounds at a time. I can’t help myself. I love these little beauties, how some are sweet, some smoky, some tangy. So simple, so elegant. Each one is like a little work of art, no?

It belongs in a frame on a museum wall, don't you think?

I could wax poetic all day about the heirloom tomato, but instead I will give you a “hardly recipe” for a salad I made up the other night. It began as an inspiration from the sweet and mild sungold variety. I wanted to set off the sweetness with something smoky, and luck would have it that I purchased some smoked mozzarella string cheese from a local cheesemaker. I sliced up the cheese into coins and tossed them into a bowl full of halved sungolds. The smokiness I craved was still not intense enough, so I sprinkled on some hickory salt from The Spice House . When I took a bite my tastebuds hummed with pleasure, and the whole thing took me about 10 minutes to throw together.

The next time I made the salad, I used four kinds of heirloom cherry tomato instead of just sungolds. The results were equally pleasing to the palate, but even more so to the eye. It’s so darn pretty I hardly want to eat it…okay, not really, but it is a colorful dish. If you can’t find smoked mozzarella or hickory salt just use plain. It’s worth the effort to seek out a smoked cheese at least. You don’t need to get string cheese either. Shaved slices of mozzarella would work as well. I just like how the coin slices look in the final dish. In a few weeks time I will find myself staring longingly at these photos, you can count on that.

Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes

2 lbs heirloom cherry tomatoes
4-5 ounces smoked mozzarella string cheese, or block cheese
1/2 teaspoon hickory salt or other smoked salt
6 cups of any kind of lettuce

  1. Rinse the tomatoes and remove any stems. Cut each one in half and place in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the string cheese into thin coins. If you are not using string cheese, slice the block cheese into thin slivers. Add to the tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle the tomato mixture with hickory salt and toss to combine.
  4. Place a cup of lettuce on a plate and top with the tomato salad. Serve at room temperature for the best flavor.
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