Recipe: Tomato, Cucumber, and Red Onion Salad

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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
    • bread

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.

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at www.faithwillinger.com.
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