Tomato Salad w. Ten Variations
4 large tomatoes, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
black peppercorns in a mill
Arrange the sliced tomatoes on 1 large or 4 individual plates. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Let the salad rest for 10 or 15 minutes so that the flavors can mingle, but be sure to serve it within an hour of preparation.
Italian Parsley & Garlic
Sprinkle 2 or 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic and 3 tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley over the tomatoes before adding the olive oil.
Italian Parsley, Garlic, & Grated Cheese
Sprinkle 2 or 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley over the tomatoes before adding the olive oil. Scatter 2 ounces of grated hard cheese [Dry Jack, Parmigiano, Romano, or aged Asiago] over the tomatoes after the olive oil has been added.
Tomatoes w. Shaved Parmesan & Garlic
Sprinkle 2 cloves of crushed and minced garlic over the tomatoes before adding the olive oil. Using a vegetable peeler, make 15 to 20 curls of imported Parmigiano cheese and scatter them over the tomatoes.
Mozzarella Fresca & Fresh Basil
Tuck 8 slices [about 4 ounces] of mozzarella fresca here and there between the slices of tomato before adding the olive oil. Cut 10 to 12 leaves of fresh basil into very thin, lengthwise strips and scatter them over the surface of the salad.
Peppers & Cucumbers
Before adding the olive oil, scatter 2 or 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic over the tomatoes. Cut 2 medium or 1 large lemon cucumber into very thin slices and tuck them in between slices of tomatoes. Cut 1 medium-sized, medium-hot pepper, such as a pasilla, into thin rounds and tuck them here and there between the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Slice 1 lemon [Meyer's, if available] very thinly and tuck the slices here and there in between the slices of tomato before adding the olive oil.
Lemons, Chilis & Cilantro
Cut 1 lemon into very thin slices and tuck them here and there between the slices of tomato. Remove the stems and seeds and cut 1 jalapeno pepper or 2 serrano peppers into thin julienne and scatter the peppers over the surface of the salad before adding the olive oil. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then sprinkle 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves over the salad.
Tuna & Lemon
Drain a 6 1/2-ounce can of imported tuna and scatter the tuna over the tomatoes before adding the olive oil. Add 2 or 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the salad before adding salt and pepper.
Anchovies, Onions & Olives
Peel a medium-sized sweet red onion and slice it into 1/8 inch rounds. Add the onion slices randomly on top of the tomatoes and then drape 6 to 8 canned anchovy fillets, cut in half, over the onions and tomatoes. Cut the anchovy fillets in half and drape them over the vegetables. Scatter 3/4 cup pitted Kalamata, Niçoise, or salt-cured olives over the salad, and then add the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Feta Cheese, Oregano, Olives & Anchovies
Soak 8 anchovy fillets in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar for 30 minutes. Cut 2 ounces of feta cheese into small cubes and scatter it over the tomatoes before adding the olive oil. Add 1/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives to the salad. Drain the anchovies, cut them in half, and arrange them over the tomatoes, cheese, and olives. Scatter the feta cheese and the olives over the tomatoes. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of minced fresh oregano leaves over the salad.
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On a personal note: Happy Birthday, Barb!