Recipe Courtesy: Chef Michel Nischan and the James Beard Award winning cookbook: Taste: Pure and Simple

If you ever had an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or neighbor who grew his or her own “homegrown” tomatoes and you recall them as the best you ever tasted, you have probably tasted an heirloom tomato. These often irregularly shaped, colorful tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been passed down through generations of small farmers and backyard gardeners. If you’ve ever tasted them, they are worth seeking out at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, or from a neighbor’s backyard. Use any combination that you can find if you can find the ones listed below. If you grow tomatoes, get hold of some heirloom seeds and harvest your own. Of course, if you cant find them, use the best local farm tomatoes you can buy – but make sure they are perfectly ripe and fragrant.

Nothing is more humbling than a good tomato. It needs no more embellishment than salt and pepper, so when you add extra ingredients, they should be of the highest quality. This salad relies on the gentle use of excellent oil and vinegar and super-fresh herbs.

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients:

2 small Brandywine tomatoes

1 Purple Cherokee tomato

1 Big Daddy Sunshine tomato

1 Watermelon tomato

5 Green Zebra tomatoes

¼ cup loosely packed shredded fresh basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin O Lemon Oil or unflavored extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cut the tomatoes into different shapes but of similar thickness: Slice, quarter or cube them.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, shredded basil, chives, vinegar and oil. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away, garnished with basil sprigs.