You'd think I didn't like fresh tomatoes, the way I avoid them most of the year. Yet it's precisely because I love tomatoes — ripe, juicy, just-plucked and not shipped-around-the-world ones — that I wait until summer. At last the season has arrived, filling my dinner plate with colorful rounds of heirloom tomatoes. Here's one way I like to serve them: a simple salad with a sweet, tangy pomegranate and sumac dressing and a handful of fresh herbs.
You don't have to use heirloom varieties in this salad, and in fact, the dressing can enhance a somewhat bland hothouse tomato. But do yourself a favor and seek out fruit that smells earthy and sweet and tomato-y, whether it's from your garden, a farmers market, or the grocery store. A mix of colors is always nice, too. (And remember, when it comes to heirloom tomatoes, scars are a-okay!)
To play up the tangy sweetness of the tomatoes, the salad includes a Middle Eastern fattoush-inspired dressing with olive oil, lemony ground sumac, and rich pomegranate molasses. (Store-bought pomegranate molasses is fine but sometimes contains sugar; I use my sugar-free DIY version instead and add a drop of honey to the dressing.) Top the tomatoes with a scattering of basil, mint, and parsley, and you have a fresh, simple side dish for any summer meal.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pomegranate-Sumac Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons sumac
Freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de sel or other flaky finishing salt
2 pounds tomatoes
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon each of fresh basil, mint, and parsley leaves
Whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sumac, and pepper, and salt to taste.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slabs. Arrange the tomatoes and shallots on a platter and drizzle with dressing. Depending on the size of the herbs, you can leave them whole or tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Scatter them on top of the tomatoes. Finish with salt.
Best eaten soon after assembling.
(Images: Emily Han)