Recipe: Tomato and Basil Two Ways

When fresh, in-season tomatoes and basil are around, I feel a bit like I'm cheating in the kitchen. Combining them in a dish is so simple and quick, yet the results taste like something that took way more effort and skill to prepare. Truly these veggies belong together, and this week I've got two ways to prepare these partners in crime that bring out some of the best they have to offer. I left out specific quantities for these recipes because for the most part when it comes to tomatoes and basil I just max out what's available of both – it's nearly impossible to go wrong with such an exquisite combination.

- tomatoes
- basil
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt
- garlic, minced
- oregano, fresh or dry

Fried Tomatoes with Herb Dressing

1) Finely chop basil and oregano (if using fresh).

2) Heat olive oil and balsamic vinegar on medium-low until warm but not boiling, about 5 minutes. The quantity of oil and vinegar depends on the amount of herbs you use, but you should have enough liquid to soak all the herbs. Oil to vinegar ratio should be 3:1.

3) Add herbs and minced garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, slice tomatoes in half and place cut side down on a pan or griddle on medium-high heat.

5) Fry until lightly browned on cut side and then flip to brown other side. Tomatoes should be nearly falling apart when finished.

6) Transfer tomatoes to serving bowl and spoon herbs on top along with some of the liquid. Serve immediately.


Tomato Basil Salad

1) Chop tomatoes and place in a strainer. Salt lightly and let tomatoes drain for at least 10 minutes. This step is very important as these varieties of tomato are MUCH juicer than what you typically find at the grocery store and you don't want a pool of water at the bottom of your salad bowl.

2) Layer basil in salad bowl and place drained tomatoes on top. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve.

3) If you want to go for a full Caprese salad, add thin slices of the freshest bocconcini you can find.