When I came back from California to a delivery from my favorite farmers, I made this salad with the season's first Riccio Fiorentino tomatoes.
• 1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes (from garden or farmers' market)
• 4 tablespoons finest quality extra virgin olive oil (I use Castello di Ama)
• sea salt
• fresh pepper
• 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil, ripped or coarsely chopped
• 2 cucumbers (optional). Note: if cucumbers aren't fresh and local, skip them.
• 1 medium sized red onion, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sharpen your knife. If you don't have a really sharp blade, use a cheapo Ginsu-type knife.
Slice tomatoes in half through the core. Remove the core, leaving only the red flesh of the tomatoes. Squeeze tomatoes over a sieve into a serving bowl to remove seeds and juice. Press seeds over the bowl to extract all juice. Cut tomatoes into pieces and add to juice in serving bowl.
Dress with extra virgin, sea salt, pepper, and basil. Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise, remove seeds (with pointy end of potato peeler), cut into bite-sized pieces, season lightly with salt and place in a bowl for at least 10 minutes.
Marinate onion with vinegar and a pinch of sea salt for at least 10 minutes. Drain cucumbers and add to tomatoes along with onions and their vinegar. Serve with bread to soak up juices, scarpetta-style. Or slice bread and top with tomato salad and juice.
To read about Faith's return from California and the tomato-centric menu she prepared after her trip, click here.