I've been patiently, desperately, hungrily waiting for tomato season so that I could give you this most brilliantly simple and yet STUNNINGLY delicious salad. You could make it with hot-house tomatoes in the winter. And I would encourage you to try. But you'll quickly find that the picked-right-out-of-the-garden tomatoes are just so deadly good that you'll be willing to wait for August and September to eat this salad.
My first taste of this salad was on Chris and my 10th wedding anniversary at a lovely Inn not too far from here. Thankfully the restaurant gave a detailed description of the salad on the menu, and thankfully, I really enjoy trying to replicate restaurant food at home. Hence, I have come very close to getting the salad just right. Yay! This is, unfortunately, one of those recipes without specific amounts listed because you just need to know what's in it and then you can make as much or as little as you like. Trust me, it isn't rocket science! :-)
Without further ado: Tomato and Provolone Salad
What You Need:
Plump, perfect, ripe tomatoes, at least one per person (go for Beefstake or other large, full-flavoured tomatoes. Truthfully, anything fresh off the vine will be good)
Slices of provolone cheese (you can find it already sliced in the deli section, or order it at the counter)
Slices of Genoa Salami (or any other good, not sweet salami. And maybe not a spicy salami either. Something with a good amount of pepper, but not "heat". Does that make sense?)
Pesto (store-bought or homemade...doesn't matter)
Walnut Oil (okay, I know. Really? It is fabulous, but you can certainly use a good olive oil instead)
Black olives (optional)
Fresh basil or parsley (optional)
How to Do it!
Slice tomatoes, salami, and cheese into rounds, trying to make them as close to the same thickness as possible.
Alternate the slices, arranging them in a circle around your place (tomato, salami, cheese, tomato, salami cheese...). For a larger serving, or to make a larger serving platter worth, start near the outside edge of the plate and make overlapping circles/spirals towards the center of the plate.
Thin some pesto with the oil.
Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with olives and fresh herbs, if using.
Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
And then convince yourself that you want to share with the people you love, because truthfully, you may want to eat the whole thing by yourself. :-)
Serve with a good crusty bread to sop up all the dressing and tomato juices off the plate. You could arrange this salad on top of some greens to make it more filling. I'd recommend arugula or spinach as they are more flavourful and sturdy to stand up to the salad.