My friend Ali and I picked out various heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market including Green Zebra and Cherokee Purple. Green Zebras are probably my favorite variety, as much for its flavor as for its brilliant color. We got the tomatoes to make an Israeli Salad that includes cucumber and onion as well.
I buy Kirby, or pickling cucumbers because I prefer their smaller seeds and thinner skin. I’m not usually a fan of English cucumbers, which are seedless and have very thin skin. They are much skinnier in diameter and I find they do not have the watery crunch that the standard variety and Kirbys have.
We tossed the tomatoes and cucumber with chopped onion, scallions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. This salad comes together in minutes and is a satisfying combination of very different flavors and textures.
The second salad of our dinner combined red leaf lettuce, chioggia beets (the pink and white striped variety), and fig goat cheese. We topped it with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, mustard, and salt. I find that if you halve beets, they take a very long time to cook whether you roast them in the oven or cook them over the stove. To speed up the process, I sliced them very thinly and steamed them. They were soft in less than ten minutes. Another advantage of this method is not having to chop the beets when they are too hot to touch.
(Allow me also to take a minute to educate you on the correct of pronunciation of Chioggia, as I am a stickler for both grammar/pronunciation and all things Italian. It is pronounced Chee-o-jah, not Chee-o-gah. Thanks).
And yes, those are baked beans you see at the top of the plate. We added them for some protein, but they actually went quite nicely with the two salads. These salads are nothing new. They are pretty classic uses for the ingredients, but the substitution of less common varieties of the beets and tomatoes makes for a more interesting and visually appealing presentation.