One of the most satisfying harvests from my vegetable garden is a warm-from-the sun, fragrant, juicy tomato. Growing up in Massachusetts, I associated the best tomato months with the height of summer - the same months that my tomato plants stop setting fruit due to the intense Arizona heat. On the other hand, if protected from the rare nights of frost, I can now pick tomatoes from September through June. This colorful platter is filled with a jumble of tomatoes that do well here in Phoenix. My friend Jenny Smith gifted me with wonderful homegrown Punta Banda, Taxi, and Golden Jubilee tomatoes, and I added Stupice and Black Cherry to the mix. Layered with mozzarella fior di latte, drizzled with a tangy sherry vinaigrette, and strewn with fresh-picked herbs (chives, holy and sweet basil, and oregano), this salad is as delicious as it is vibrant.
A mix of colorful tomatoes (for this, I used 3 large yellow and orange tomatoes, and about a pint of cherry and smaller tomatoes)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of fresh minced herbs
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, fior di latte, or burrata
A mix of fresh herbs (minced, torn, or left whole) to garnish
- In a glass jar, combine olive oil, minced herbs, garlic, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cap jar and shake to emulsify the vinaigrette.
- Core and slice larger tomatoes.
- For smaller tomatoes, cut into wedges and/or cut in half, and toss with a little vinaigrette.
- Slice cheese and layer with sliced tomatoes on a platter.
- Arrange the rest of the tomatoes around the dish.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with vinaigrette, and shower with a handful of fresh-cut herbs.
For heirloom tomato varieties that do well in Arizona, look for Vilardi Gardens plants at local farmer's markets and nurseries in the spring and fall.