I was hesitant to post the recipe for tomato and onion salad, because honestly, it can’t really be called a recipe. After all, I’m just slicing and tossing together ingredients, there’s no elbow grease, not much elaboration, and the key is in the ingredients, which have to be of the best quality. But when I think about salads in general, isn’t that the case most of the time? In reality, for me, the simpler the salad, the better. Sometimes salads include warm ingredients, or a special dressing, that require a bit more work. I still find that, for the most part, I’m drawn more to the fresh, raw ingredients. Again, for me, their quality is key.
There has been much debate around our summer table these past months about the taste and quality of tomatoes. Tomatoes, we agree, don’t taste the way they used to. I read in an article recently that most of it has to do with the control of the seeds, which belong to a very small number of large corporations. They (the seeds, of tomatoes and other vegetables, but particularly of corn and soy beans) have been genetically modified in order to resist certain diseases, and since these seeds have been “developed” by these corporations, they have been patented (even their sowing and harvesting methods have been patented!). So regardless of whether you buy your tomatoes at the store or at the market, the seeds are still controlled by these companies.
I wish I had known years ago that this would happen. I would have saved some seeds of the tomatoes I ate in my youth, and planted them later. But who wouldn’t have? The heirloom tomatoes, many varieties of which have been cultivated and passed down for several generations in a family, offer a ray of hope.
Still, I find the tomatoes I get at the farmers market to be very decent. Grown locally, they don’t have to endure hours of travel in a refrigerated truck to make it to the stores. So while I cannot recover the tomatoes savored in my youth, I’ll take the farmers market tomatoes.
The tomato and onion salad I’m sharing today, a “no-recipe”, is one that has been prepared at my parents’ house for as long as I can remember. We eat it at least a couple of times every week during the summer tomato season, so I thought it belonged in Mama Ía blog, where I try to feature the food that we eat at home, and the food that I grew up with. Simple food, unpretentious food, but nutritious and very satisfying. I use anchovy stuffed Spanish olives in my tomato and onion salad, but any kind of olive will do, pick your favorite. And the best tomatoes you can afford.
TOMATO AND ONION SALAD
Ensalada de Tomate y Cebolla
3 large tomatoes, of the best quality
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup anchovy stuffed Spanish olives (or any olive of your choice)
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs sherry vinegar
Fresh leaves of basil
Peel and slice the onion into 1/8-inch thick (or very thin) slices, and separate into rings. Place the onion rings in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes. Rinse.
Slice the tomatos into 1/3-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving plate. Scatter the onion rings and the olives over the tomatoes. Season with the salt, pepper, sherry vinegar and olive oil (you can also mix these four ingredients first in a small bowl). Decorate with the whole basil leaves, or sprinkle with the julienne cut basil leaves if preferred.