Grandma's Simple Tomato Salad with Buttery Crostini
Great-Grandma Fabrizio lived one town over when I was growing up. I spent Sundays at her house for dinner, but I also spent weekdays there—learning how to knit, having "coffee" with her girlfriends (the little old Italian ladies), and playing in the garden. In the summer, Grandma always had tons of tomatoes growing and more hot pepper plants than I could count. No matter what we were eating, there was always a small bowl of freshly minced hot peppers on the table. I didn't appreciate this until I was older, but now I especially love them on her simple tomato salad, with the crunch and heat of fresh hot peppers, swirled with soft, sweet garden tomato—especially when you have a thick slice of fresh bread to dunk into the spicy tomato juices left on the plate. When I made this salad for Pasta Friday, my friend Lenny dropped a piece of bread into the big salad platter, let it soak, and came back for it a minute later. He was my hero that night!
1medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 pounds ripe, red tomatoes, quartered (I love using Early Girl of Jackpot tomatoes.)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf basil
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 jalapeño pepper or serrano pepper (depending on how spicy you want it), finely chopped or sliced
Flaky sea salt
1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste
3-4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
Makes 4-6 servings
Soak the red onion slices in cold water for a least 10 minutes to tame their bite. White they're getting an ice bath, prepare the rest of the salad.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, parsley, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt to give it a good toss. Drain the onions, add them to the bowl, and toss again. Let the salad stand at room temperature for a least 30 minutes. Add the hot peppers right before serving so they don't lose their crunch. Taste for salt, and add flaky sea salt if needed.
To make the buttery crostini, preheat the over to 350°F. In a small bowl, whisk the garlic paste and the butter. Use a spoon or a pastry brush to spread the garlic butter all over both halves of the bread. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to brown. Cut into slices and serve next to the salad.
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Recipes provided by Pasta Louise.