Grilled Tomato Salad

Making fresh tomatoes the star

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is a classically trained chef who appears on numerous Food Network shows, including as a judge on “Chopped” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” She also competes as one of the Iron Chefs on “Iron Chef America.” This past April, she hosted the New Hampshire Food Bank’s annual fundraiser, the Steel Chef Challenge.

Her cookbook, "The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart," is a compilation of her favorite recipes, some from her family roots and others from along the way to TV stardom. More than 300 recipes range from appetizers to soups to main dishes to desserts. Each has that little extra something for an interesting flavor profile and none are too difficult to master.

Photo by Susan Laughlin

Grilled Tomato Salad

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli makes this salad whenever she can get her hands on really good tomatoes. It’s perfect for a summer patio meal or an early fall dinner.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 springs fresh oregano, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 limes
7 large heirloom tomatoes (about 2 1/4 lbs.) cut into 1.5-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt flakes
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the grill to high heat.

Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and add the fresh oregano. Cook the oregano in the warm oil until the green color fades and the leaves crisp up, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the oil and oregano into a medium bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the dried oregano. Cut the limes in half and squeeze all the juice into the bowl. Use a citrus reamer or a spoon to scrape the pulp from the limes as well, and add the pulp to the bowl. Whisk all together. Taste for seasoning.

Grill the heirloom tomatoes: Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on two baking sheets. Season them on both sides with some of the Maldon salt, black pepper and sugar. Put the cherry tomatoes on a separate baking sheet and season them too. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the large tomato slices to the grill, arranging them in a single layer. Let them sit until they get a nice grill mark on the bottom (and a great charred flavor), 2 to 3 minutes. Turn them over and let them cook for a few minutes longer. Transfer the grilled tomatoes to a serving platter. Top with the cherry tomato halves.

Finish the salad: Drizzle the tomatoes with the dressing and sprinkle with any remaining sea salt. Taste a piece of tomato to check the seasoning. If it lacks sweetness, a sprinkle of sugar on the tomatoes can make all the difference. Serve immediately.

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