Tomato Salad with Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese Dressing
omatoes are likely the most beloved vegetable (okay yes, technically fruit) of summer. And in case you sweating/melting didn’t give it away, the overflow of tomatoes at the supermarket is a great indication that summer is in full swing. I love all the different shapes, sizes, and colors that are becoming more and more available at the everyday grocery store. While any classic red summer tomato is surely delicious, there are so many intriguing heirloom varieties to diversify your seasonal tomato consumption. Regardless of appearance, all tomatoes offer many nutritional benefits.
One medium tomato contains only about 25 calories but, has 20% of daily requirements for vitamin A and 28% of daily needs for vitamin C. Talk about nutrient dense. Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene. Lycopene is a phytochemical with antioxidant capabilities that gives many fruits and vegetables their red or orange color. Tomatoes are probably the most well-known lycopene rich food, but watermelon, grapefruit, guava, and papaya are also good sources.
While all tomatoes contain disease fighting lycopene, some tomatoes may be a better source than others. An orange colored tomato variety created by Ohio State researchers was found to contain more bioavailable lycopene than traditional red tomatoes. Greater bioavailability means that our bodies are better able to absorb the nutrient or compound. While these special orange tomatoes in question are not available in stores, the researchers said that yellow and orange heirloom varieties may be a good alternative if you are looking to get more lycopene in your life.
his tomato salad uses precisely those golden heirloom tomatoes that could provide your body with some extra antioxidant lycopene action. Heirloom tomatoes are so beautiful and strange at the same time. I can’t pass them by when I spot their captivating, unfamiliar shapes and colors at the store or market. It seems the best way to do them justice is to serve them with minimal preparation, highlighting and enhancing their aesthetic and delicious attributes.
This salad sets out to do just this. Tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties, have a wonderful flavor that is all at once savory, sweet, and acidic. They are best paired with foods that can complement and contrast these flavors for a well-rounded dish. Cheese and tomatoes is a classic combo for just this reason (think: grilled cheese with tomato soup, caprese salad, pizza, etc.); cheese balances out tomatoes with some salt and richness. Here I used goat cheese and made it into a sort of whipped sauce serving like a salad dressing. Other flavors in this salad like herbs and lemon add pops of bright flavor. Walnuts add some needed crunch factor and a bit more rich, nuttiness to counter the sweet tomatoes. Olive oil is used generously in this recipe, as it is a long time flavor friend of the tomato. And, since lycopene is fat soluble, enjoying your tomatoes with a fat like olive oil can help you absorb more beneficial lycopene.
ou of course don’t have to use heirloom tomatoes to make this salad, but I think the color and flavor of the heirlooms is what makes this salad special. Celebrate veggie diversity and try some new tomato varieties with this preparation for a super flavorful and beautiful summer salad.
Tomato Salad with Herby Goat Cheese Dressing
Makes about 4 servings
3 large heirloom tomatoes
1 cup cherry or other small tomatoes
3 tbs. toasted walnuts, chopped roughly
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
big pinch salt
few grinds fresh black pepper
Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese Dressing
½ cup basil leaves, lightly packed
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
½ tsp. coarse salt
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup plus 2 tbs. Greek yogurt
coarse or sea salt, black pepper, olive oil, basil leaves for finishing
To make the marinated walnuts, combine all the ingredients and stir well. Let sit while you prep the rest of the salad.
Finely chop the basil and then combine with the olive oil and lemon juice in a small food processor. Blend until the basil is broken down further and starts to color the oil a bit green. This may take a few minutes and require pushing the mixture down a few times with a spatula.
Add in the salt, goat cheese, and Greek yogurt and blend just until smooth and homogenous. This sauce is an emulsion (contains two things that don’t normally mix together), so it is important to not over mix as to prevent separation of the olive oil from the cheese and yogurt.
Cut the big tomatoes into slices and the smaller ones in halves or quarters. Spread the whipped goat cheese on each plate all super fancy-like and then top with tomatoes and some of the marinated walnuts. Finish with a bit of sea/coarse salt, fresh ground black pepper, a few drops more olive oil, and some herb leaves. ¡Muy delicioso!