The Obligatory Tomato Recipe

Am I the only one totally sick of salad? Am I the only one dreaming of slow-cooked stews and meaty feasts? Enough with the summer produce already, produce so gorgeous and colorful and tasty that it doesn't need much more than a sprinkling of salt and olive oil to reach complete vegetal nirvana. Enough with the abundance of perfect zucchini and tomatoes and peaches and corn. Dammit, I want to actually cook when I'm cooking. I want to work with ingredients that need me, like butternut squash and ugly little celeriac.

Yes, I mourn the loss of potential beach days. Yes, I will miss wearing flip-flops to work. And yes, yes, yes, I will completely regret writing these words when I have snot frozen on the end of my nose. But I've had it up to my eyeballs with salad as of right this very second.

The tomatoes, however, are posing a problem. They’ve been just about as gorgeous as tomatoes have a right to be. Sweet and fat and properly tomato-y. It would be a crime not to give them a proper shout-out, almost disrespectful to the effort they've put into being delicious. So here is one more salad recipe, because I know that come January, this is the salad that will occupy the majority of my occipital lobe, where I file all my food fantasies.

This is my variation on the classic Greek salad. Unlike the American version of Greek salad, I prefer it lettuce-free, the way the Greek peasants traditionally went for it (I assure you, the romaine in the photo is strictly garnish.) Unlike the Greek peasants, I ditch the olives because I’m not a fan (I’ve tried. I will continue to try, but it’s just not happening.) I serve it with warm pita chips (not sure where the Greek peasants stand on those.) Maybe it's more Greek-ish than actually Greek.

If you can’t get your hands on luscious, straight-from-the-farm, end-of-summer tomatoes, then don’t bother. Order in Thai and eat it straight from the container, because that’ll be the equivalent of the kind of authentic Greek experience you’ll get if you make this with listless supermarket tomatoes. Otherwise, it's a glorious tangle of summer flavors, enough to almost love salad again.

Greek-ish Salad

Serves 6

2 lbs. extra fabulous tomatoes, cut into 1” chunks
¾ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
1 medium clove garlic, minced
Pinch sugar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 red onion, sliced as thinly as humanly possible
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 pitas (I prefer whole wheat) toasted and sliced into sixths, so they’re sort of chip-like.

1. Toss tomatoes with ¼ tsp. of salt, and set aside. The salt will draw the water out, so it doesn’t wind up diluting your vinaigrette later.

2. Whisk together the remaining ½ tsp. salt and the next six ingredients (vinegar through olive oil). Set aside.

3. Toss the onion and cucumber together. Drain liquid from tomatoes and add those to the onion and cucumber. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to moisten and toss, adding more vinaigrette if necessary. Season with pepper. Crumble feta over salad and serve with toasted pitas.

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