Heirloom tomato salad made with corn, red onion, string beans and a handful of fresh herbs mixed with a summery vinaigrette and feta cheese is a perfect summer salad to serve at a picnic, cookout, or even as a late Saturday or Sunday afternoon lunch.
I’d like to know: who was it that decided to put lettuce in salads? I’m not saying there is anything wrong with lettuce salads. Or spinach salads, arugula salads or even kale salads for that matter. What I am saying, though, is that salads are perfectly good without lettuce, especially in the peak of the summer when fruits and vegetables are arguably at their freshest.
Before we talk about heirloom tomatoes, let me tell you a little sob story.
Well, one might call it a first world problem but for the sake of this story, it’s a sad one.
Last summer, the beautiful Green City Market farmers’ market that Chicago is known for opened a little outpost in a parking lot about three blocks from my apartment building. I loved it and took Henry there every weekend to sniff the basil plants and say hello to the different vendors. I tried to buy as many of my groceries as I could from the market for the sake of supporting the local economy and all that, but it was never terribly crowded and that always left me a little worried for the future of the market.
Sure enough, in June this year the market announced its outpost in my neighborhood — about 1o blocks away. If you take a feisty dog, humid weather, bags of groceries, 10 blocks is really, really far.
That’s the sad story.
I know, I know, I know.
I have only been to the market once this season, but luckily there are three grocery stores within walking distance of where I live, so they have been keeping me in seasonal produce. Tomatoes are one of my favorite things to buy, with a million different ideas about how to use them, but then when it comes time to use them, I can never decide what I want to make.
This salad is a great way to use up tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, plus whatever vegetables you have in the house. I used some leftover corn on the cob and green beans, but you could easily add grilled or roasted asparagus, peppers, even some gently wilted kale or spinach. Red onion adds some nice crunch and flavor while feta cheese makes almost any salad better.
- 2 cups assorted heirloom tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup chopped beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup feta cheese
- ½ cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup green beans, blanched
- ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh mint
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- Combine tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with feta, corn, green beans and red onion. Add olive oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper and toss gently. Serve immediately.