first tomato

No one — once summer’s tomatoes arrive.

I wait for this moment all year: Harvesting the first of the garden tomatoes. Store-bought — even farmers’ market-bought — fruit simply can’t compare to the rich taste and sun-kissed smell of a homegrown tomato.

Tomato salad seemed a fitting tribute for our first red orb. We layered thin slices on a big plate, crumbled some blue cheese on top, then scattered on some crisp pancetta and torn basil leaves. A drizzle of best-quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil melded everything together.

It was a summer salad at its best … no lettuce required!

tomato closeup

Summer Tomato Salad

Use only garden-ripened tomatoes for this salad. Anything less will make for a bland dish.

  • 1-2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch rounds and place them on a big plate.

Crumble the blue cheese over them.

tomato platePlace a little olive oil in a saute pan, and cook the pancetta until it’s crispy. Drain well on a paper towel, then crumble the meat over the blue cheese. Sprinkle the basil leaves on top.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then taste. If the vinegar catches in your throat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pour over the tomato salad. Serve immediately, or let the dish sit for up to an hour. One note: Don’t refrigerate it! You’ll leech out the flavor.