HEIRLOOM CHERRY TOMATO SALAD
with marinated cucumbers and ricotta salata
Farmer’s markets are plentiful in the mid-summer months. Beautiful produce decorates food stands with brilliant colors and intoxicating smells. This fresh, summery salad captures some of summer’s greatest gifts – colorful heirloom tomatoes, crisp refreshing cucumbers and fragrant sweet basil. The mild, saltiness of ricotta salata compliments the surprising tangy bite of the marinated cucumbers giving this simple salad perfect balance with a lot of flavor.
FOR THE SALAD
2 pints Heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered to bite-sized pieces
6 small cucumbers (5 to 6 ounces each) or 2 pounds medium cucumbers
Extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade, reserving one sprig for garnish
FOR THE MARINADE
¾ cup champagne vinegar
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the ends of the cucumbers, halve them and remove the core and seeds. Cut into a small macedoine. Combine the vinegar, oil, red pepper flake and sugar in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put the cucumbers in a canning jar and pour the liquid over the top. Refrigerate for at least 1 day, or up to 2 weeks.
To assemble the salad, separate the cucumbers from their marinade and set marinade aside – this will be used as a light dressing for the salad. Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and ricotta with a drizzle of the marinade. Gently toss everything together. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with a beautiful sprig of fresh basil. Serve at room temperature.