Tomato and Cheese Make Perfect Summer Salads

Tomato, Fig, Avocado Salad (1) A rule of thumb—better yet—a summer desire, is to keep ones cooking simple as no one wants to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen. Grilling is the solution, but so is simple summer vegetable salads. In fact, you could make an entire meal of nothing but a variety of salads. In Arab cuisine these would be served as meze, small plates to be shared that are the entirety of the meal, not an appetizer.
Here are some great possibilities. They don’t really require recipes as they rest on the imagination of the cook and require almost no cooking beyond the garnishes.
The first is a Tomato, Fig, Avocado Salad. You’ll want to begin by frying some diced French baguette bread in a sauté pan with olive oil until golden, which will take about 5 minutes on medium heat. The arrange the tomatoes—vine-ripened from your garden ideally—cut into eighths along with fresh quartered Black Mission figs. Sprinkle some diced white Middle Eastern cheese (such as Nabulsi) or white Mexican cheese (such as queso fresco) around with a diced avocado, the fried bread and sprinkle chopped fresh dill, olive oil, and red wine vinegar on top with a little kosher salt.

Tomato with Goat Cheese
In the second tomato salad, a Tomato and Gorgonzola Salad, you’ll use Gorgonzola, an Italian blue-type mold cheese made of cow’s milk. Although Gorgonzola is a sharp tasting cheese it is also delicate and creamy and should be soft to the touch. The blue veins of mold should be quite obvious. Taste before buying; it should not be bitter, but rich with a sharp flavor. Ripe tomatoes and Gorgonzola together make a nice accompaniment to grilled foods or any other simple food. Slice a very large ripe tomato (weighing about 3/4 pound) 3/8 inches thick and arrange on a serving platter. Smear about 1 tablespoon of Gorgonzola on each slice and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve to two people at room temperature.

Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata
The third tomato-and-cheese salad is simple ripe tomatoes with ricotta salata cheese, some olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and salt. That’s it. Make sure the ricotta salata is at room temperature when served.

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