A Summer Naturally Sweet Recipe! Heirloom Tomato and Melon Salad with Goat Cheese and a Date – Balsamic Dressing.
After a bitterly cold, lengthy winter, heirloom tomatoes – my favorite fruit, are finally gracing farmers’ market tables in colorful grouped piles. This summery salad has contrasting flavors and textures, a quite beautiful composition to behold. Choosing a mélange of colors results in a burst of visual interest – a true treat for the senses. Each bite yields a different, but complimentary taste.
Summer salads are about mixing up nature’s bounty. I like pairing summer cantaloupe (mine from New Jersey) with juicy watermelon and heirloom multi-colored cherry tomatoes. For interest and tang – what’s better than creamy, assertive goat cheese? I roll the cheese into little balls, just a little smaller than the melon balls – and simply coat them in fresh cut dill.
A little trick of mine is to add dates to a dressing for natural sweetness. I make the dressing by sautéing a little garlic in extra virgin olive oil to tame it’s bite, then add black pepper, sumac, balsamic vinegar and dates. The mixture simply simmers to blend the flavors together. Then, after it cools a bit, I pulse it in a mini food processor with a pinch of sea salt and whirl in some extra virgin olive oil. The syrupy dressing is drizzled over the salad when you serve it – a wonderful full-bodied addition.
I will be bringing you many Heirloom Tomato recipes in the next few months – they truly are “the true taste of summer!”
What does “Heirloom” mean anyway? Your grandmother’s jewelry you have inherited might be an heirloom to you – but many say a true heirloom seed must be over 100 hundred years old. As an avid antique hunter, I learned early on a true “antique” must too be over 100 years old – otherwise, it’s a collectable. Some believe heirloom seeds must be around 50 years old, after World War II – the beginning of widespread use of hybrid seeds. In the 1970’s heirlooms began to proliferate in the commercial seed trade. A true heirloom is a cultivar that has been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations. It is generally agreed that no genetically modified organisms can be considered heirloom cultivars.
Amy Goldman, an authority on heirloom tomatoes believes there are over 1000 varieties. I have visited and taken a tour of her garden in Rhinebeck, NY, which was such a delight! So try a new variety of this “old-fashioned” flavored tomato at your local farmers’ market. Many growers offer tastes and encourage you to understand the different qualities – some sweet, some beefy, some low-acid.
Enjoy this salad and the lingering days of summer,