Tomato blight may be our own faults, as Dan Barber put forth in today’s Times op-ed. But, according to Jawn Chasteen, the executive chef at The Sea Grill, the severe early blight has also allowed us to more fully appreciate just how precious the juicy fruits are.
“The current blight has brought even more awareness to the brevity of the tomato season,” he tells Fork in the Road.
Now that’s a glass-half-full kind of attitude, especially considering he and other chefs from the Patina Restaurant Group received only a fraction of the heirloom tomatoes they were expecting for their first annual Tomato Festival, going on now. Heirlooms feature prominently in his Summer Tomato Salad, for which he shares the recipe.
“This salad is one of my favorites to make at the Sea Grill for summer,” says Chasteen. “The textures are very complementary, refreshing, mixing soft and crunchy textures, juicy, perfect for summer. Heirloom tomatoes are so attractive for a chef, because of their unique flavor, color, and shape.”
Summer Tomato Salad
4 cups seeded yellow and red watermelon cubes
6 colorful, assorted heirloom tomatoes, such as Green Zebra, Bradywine, and Black Tula
4-5 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters (in this case, locally grown vine-ripened tomatoes were used)
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
high-quality olive oil
fleur de sel and pepper, to taste (in this case, a course gray sea salt was used)
Slice the tomatoes into thumb-wide segments, then arrange them on four separate plates. Arrange the watermelon cubes and cherry tomatoes equally on top of heirloom tomato platforms, and sprinkle with the basil, salt and pepper. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.