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Simple Salad with Roasted Yellow Tomatoes and Vidalia Onions

Simple Salad with Roasted Yellow Tomatoes and Vidalia Onions
  

So much of how we feel about the food we eat is influenced by who we eat it with, where, and under what social circumstances. As we plan and shop and cook and photograph and write about our food, and also as we focus on the great chefs and restaurants and their art and craft, we come closer and closer to an understanding of the process of preparing the food, and to higher awareness and enjoyment of the sensuality of food --  but I sometimes I think this closer and closer focus on the food itself has the effect of blunting or dimming our awareness and appreciation of the social and very human side of eating: the act coming together to break bread around a table, which is certainly nearly as old as human existence, and, endlessly repeated, is also almost certainly the germ from which our civilization developed.

I was thinking of this as I put this simple salad together. As a food event, the creation of this salad was an insignificant moment, one of billions of such moments that take place every day in kitchens around the world. The selection, cleaning, and preparation of the ingedients, and the assembly -- quick, casual, nothing studied about it -- are as ordinary as rain or the breeze. But as I went through familiar motions I was suddenly aware of how important the social component of cooking and food is, and how much meaning and weight it adds to something as simple as this salad.

I guess this was in my mind because as I threw it together I was thinking of how I never tire of coming up with fresh salad ideas for some of the regular diners at my table who particularly love them...which lead me to think of our friend Erica, since none of the regulars love my salads more than she does. She gets so much pleasure from an interesting little plate of greens and dressing and it always inspires me -- even, obviously, when she's not actually coming tonight. It's just fresh ingredients, carefully handled, with one slightly unusual item (the sweet roasted yellow cherry tomatoes) and the crunchy pleasure of sweet Vidalia onion slices, but making it gave me a quick flash of pleasure, a momentary connection with all the salads I'd made to please and delight Erica over the years. So much meaning and enjoyment in a little pile of veggies! Erica, please come to dinner again soon so we can have another salad and a few more laughs together...!

Simple Salad with Roasted Yellow Tomatoes and Vidalia Onions

Boston lettuce and redleaf lettuce, washed, dried, torn in bite-sized pieces
Yellow cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
Vidalia or other sweet onions, sliced thin
Water
1/4 tsp sugar
Plain fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Fleur de sel, to taste

Cut the tomatoes in half, toss with the minced garlic and olive oil and spread out on a plate, cut side up. Roast in a 350º oven about 30 minutes until the tomatoes start to shrivel up a little. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool. Immerse the onion slices in water to cover, stir in the sugar and soak for about 30 minutes. Drain and dry with a paper towel. To assemble the salad, toss the lettuce together and then add the tomatoes and onions. Drizzle on the dressing, scatter on the cheese, then the parsley, and then a few grains of the fleur de sel.

Vinaigrette dressing:

3 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled, smashed
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, hot sauce and mustard together to emulsify. Stir in the garlic clove. Remove and discard the garlic and correct seasoning before drizzling over the salad. Ideally, this is made an hour to a day before serving, to allow flavors to blend.


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Comments

This sounds truly wonderful. I agree that this type of food is so satisfying, especially when the veggies are at their peak of season. I can't wait to have good tomatoes again, and roasting them for the salad like this is a great idea.

Simple and fresh seem to always work. I go home for lunch most days and I've gotten stuck on baby lettuces and lemon juice/olive oil vinaigrette with whatever the "fruit stand" next door has just brought in from the farmer's market. I've never roasted the tomatoes -- neat suggestion!

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