Tomatoes with Toasted Garlic-Balsamic Dressing
I've developed this recipe in honor of the Phipps Conservatory "Ripe, Red and Roasted" tomato and garlic festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, Aug. 24. I'll be there, making this and another recipe. The PG’s Doug Oster will be in attendance as well and we'll be signing copies of our books. Hope it's a lovely day.
You can toast the garlic for the dressing earlier in the day and even prepare the dressing ahead. The garlic flavor becomes more pronounced but it's never harsh or strong. Toasting garlic means just that -- you toss it in a dry, heavy skillet (not nonstick, please) until it's browned and soft and has a mild and, yes, toasty flavor. It's much quicker than roasting a whole head of garlic, which takes about an hour. This is what you do if you want just a few cloves.
Use your best slicing tomatoes for this dish, because nothing else will do. Tomatoes have been slow to ripen this year but my Cherokee Purples are starting (hurray!) and their rounded, earthy, rich flavor was a great contrast to the dressing.
3 large garlic cloves, rinsed and dried but not peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons full-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
2 pounds (4 large) best-quality, ripe, slicing tomatoes, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds (you can peel them if you like)
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil, plus a sprig for garnish
In small, heavy (not nonstick) skillet, cook unpeeled garlic over medium-low heat, turning often, lowering heat if garlic starts to blacken, until it's browned in spots and feels soft when pressed with spoon, 12 to 17 minutes. Tip out of pan and cool until easily handled. Peel off skin and cut off the tiny brown bit at end of clove.
Mash peeled garlic on cutting board with flat side of chef's knife. Scrape into medium bowl. Whisk in oil, balsamic and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper until fairly smooth. Whisk in buttermilk and mayonnaise.
Arrange tomato slices overlapping on a platter. Season lightly with salt and pepper and spoon dressing over. Sprinkle with red onion and shredded basil. Garnish with basil sprig and serve.
Makes 4 or 5 servings.
-- Miriam Rubin
Miriam Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and on Twitter @mmmrubin.