Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Marinated Arugula and Tomato Salad






     Flavor!
     The peppery flavor of arugula is perfect for marinating with tomatoes.  I have served marinated tomatoes as either an accompaniment or as a complete lunch salad entrée many times in cafés.  Marinated tomato salads are cool and refreshing when the weather is hot.  Marinated salads are a nice choice for chilly days too, because the body seems to crave strong tasting healthy food when the weather is blustery.  

     Vine ripe locally grown tomatoes are the best choice for a marinated salad.  If heirloom tomatoes are available, all the better!
     Most commercial tomatoes in corporate grocery stores are grown from GMO seed.  These tomatoes are harvested green, then they are gassed with Ethylene in order to hasten the ripening process just before they are marketed.  The result is a tomato that tastes more like grassy cardboard than a good tomato.  Gas house GMO tomatoes are usually less meaty and the texture often is grainy.
     It is best to avoid GMO gas house tomatoes altogether.  Paying a little extra for organic tomatoes does send a clear message to profit driven grocers.

     When making marinated tomatoes, try not to over season the tomatoes or use too strong of a marinade.  The tomato should be the featured ingredient and flavor.  The marinade should only accent the ripe tomato flavor.  There is a cooking term for this in Italian.  The word "delicato" loosely translates to "season delicately or delicate flavor."
     When using balsamic vinegar to make a marinated salad, only add a minimal amount.  Balsamic Vinegar has a deep strong flavor and a little bit goes a long way.  Balsamic Vinegar can be heavy on the palate, so adding a touch of acidic red wine vinegar or lemon juice helps to lighten the effect.
     Marinated salads do not have to marinate all day long!  This is especially true when delicate aromatic lettuce greens are used.  Delicate greens will end up looking like cooked spinach if they are marinated for too much time and fresh tomato wedges will become soggy.  For marinated cucumber or tomato salads, marinating somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes is plenty of time.
 
     Marinated Arugula and Tomato:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 salad entrée.
     The arugula is added late in the recipe, so it does not wilt to the point of being limp.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of imported Italian Modena Balsamic Vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 large shallot that is thin sliced.
     Add 1 pinch coarsely ground black pepper.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Stir the marinade.
     Step 2:  Add 1 large ripe plum tomato that is cut into thin wedges.
     Toss the marinade and tomato together.
     Place the bowl in a refrigerator for 20 minutes.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cups of baby arugula leaves.
     Marinate for 20 more minutes at room temperature.
 
     Marinated Arugula and Tomato Salad: 
     This recipe yields 1 large salad entrée or 2 petite portion salads for a multi course meal. 
     The marinated tomatoes and arugula can be presented any way that is preferred.  Simple café style presentations are best for marinated salads that have a strong flavor!
     Place a bed of a few trimmed Boston Lettuce leaves in shallow salad bowl.
     Mound the marinated arugula and tomato salad on the Boston Lettuce.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano over the salad.
     Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the salad.
     Garnish with a few thin slices of mushroom.
 
     This is a refreshing simple marinated salad!

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