There are few things in life that delight me more than fresh tomatoes ripened on the vine; that earthy and slightly spicy scent that rubs off on your fingers when you carefully twist one apart from it’s branch is, to me anyway, quite possibly one of the most intoxicating perfumes that exists in nature.
But tomatoes require patience, a virtue that I, categorically speaking, have not exactly been renowned to posses. For try as you may, you simply cannot force a tomato; I am a firm believer that there is nothing in this world less enticing than a watery, mealy, pale round of ‘tomato’ sliding sadly out the side of a sandwich in the middle of Winter. What’s the point?
Sure, you can eek by with some hothouse-grown grape tomatoes in your salads for most of the year, and, in their own right, they will do perfectly fine. But if you forgo the sad and sallow ethylene-ripened specimens and hold out for the Real McCoys, that patience is handsomely rewarded.
And come August, they’re ready — and here we suddenly are.
I can think of none better to do with a ripe Summer tomato than stuff it into a BLT – my absolute favorite sandwich. However jettisoning the bread, calling in a bit of goat cheese, and subbing some peppery arugula for the rather non-descript “L” is a damn fine second.
The tomatoes are the real star here, but a good quality thick cut bacon and a sweet and tangy dijon vinaigrette pull the salad together and are the icing on the proverbial cake.
A salad cake, that is.
Heirloom Tomato BLT Salad with Goat Cheese & Dijon Vinaigrette
Makes 2 Meal Sized Salads
This is the epitome of a late Summer meal, and I think it’s perfect in every way. The dressing here is a favorite of mine to dress nearly any salad, so go ahead and triple or quadruple the recipe to have fresh vinaigrette on hand all week long.
Buy goat cheese that is in a log (not precrumbled) if you can – it tastes so much better, and lacks that funky texture the crumbles have.
3-4 Heirloom tomatoes, in varying colors, shapes, and sizes (plus some baby tomatoes for good measure)
4 slices of thick cut bacon
8 cups of arugula
2-3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
4 chives, chopped
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet over high heat till it is very crispy; remove and set it to the side to cool. Break it into large pieces.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and honey till well combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, and set the dressing to the side.
Cut the heirloom tomatoes into large wedges, being sure to remove any tough or woody stem bits. In a large salad bowl, layer the arugula and tomato wedges, and then add in the bacon pieces, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped chives. Carefully drizzle just over half of the dressing over the salad, and add a big pinch of kosher salt and a generous dusting of fresh cracked pepper. Gently toss the salad; add more (or the rest) of the dressing to taste.
Eat immediately after dressing.