As the summer draws to a close I’m literally harvesting a pound or more of cherry tomatoes every day. Having the luxury of being able to let them ripen on the vine means they’re so sweet and juicy that it’s like eating candy. They’re so good that the pooch sits with perfect posture next to me just to remind me what a good, tomato-loving dog he is just in case I want to toss a few his way. While they’re great in sauces and roasted, nothing quite says “summer” like a bowl of ripe tomatoes and a zesty vinaigrette. The salty miso, sharp bite of ginger, and piquant rice wine vinegar really highlight these sweetly acidic spheres. You may end up liking the combination so much that this little dish gets elevated from a salad to a mid-afternoon pick-me-up cuz who needs a siesta when you’ve got these babies?
Good things to know:
1) Because of the acid and salt content, most homemade vinaigrettes keep very well in the refrigerator, at least a couple weeks. I usually like to quadruple this recipe and make 1 cup so that I can add it to whatever salad I’m hankering for. I find sterile hermetically sealing swing bottles like these by Bormioli very convenient because they’re also easy to pour out and fit easily in the refrigerator door.
2) If your cherry tomatoes could be a little riper, cut them in half instead of leaving them whole, that way you can easily spear them without having an unexpected food fight during dinner ;).
3) To refrigerate or not to refrigerate, that is the question. As I’m sure many of you have noticed, putting a tomato in the refrigerator not only seems to give it a rubbery, at times mealy texture but also mutes its flavor. The loss of flavor is due to drastically decreased production of cis-3-hexenal, a volatile aromatic compound that continues to be produced by ripe tomatoes after they’ve been harvested that is responsible for part of that “ripe tomato taste.” Unfortunately cis-3-hexenal production is very temperature-dependent and comes pretty much to a standstill below 50F. That ever so appetizing mealy consistency is caused by “chill injury” where the cell membranes become gel-like instead of staying firm and resilient resulting in that gritty, pulpy texture. [pushes glasses firmly onto nasal bridge.] So do I refrigerate my tomatoes? Nope, but I do freeze the excess to use throughout the year to liven up sauces or soups. Even frozen, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes can really supplement the flavors of canned tomatoes.
2 tbsp shiromiso (white) paste
4 tbsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
A pinch of dried tsp thyme
1 tbsp honey
2 lb cherry tomatoes (mine are bright orange cuz they’re Sungolds)
Freshly ground pepper
Whisk miso, vinegar, oil, ginger, red pepper flakes, thyme, and honey together in a small bowl. This will make a thin emulsion about 1/4 of a cup in volume. Fill 4 small bowls or salad bowls with 1/2 lb tomatoes per bowl and mix in 2 tbsp vinaigrette to each. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.