I once had a rather heated discussion with a journalist/gardener from upstate New York about tomatoes. I swore the Piedmont region of North Carolina, particularly the family farm I grew up on, produced the juiciest, honest-to-goodness old-fashioned summer tomatoes in the world. He was convinced the humidity had not only slowed my speech, but also affected my senses. Surely, he argued, the best tomatoes were from his very own garden in the cooler climes of his county.
We never settled the argument; we had to agree to disagree. But all tomato lovers can agree that there is nothing better than a vine-ripened tomato, warmed by the hot sun and plumped with the perfect amount of rainfall.
When they are perfect, there's nothing else needed but a fine homemade dressing to top them off. I first sampled this heirloom tomato salad in one of Wolfgang Puck's California restaurants and quickly worked its beauty and simplicity into my repertoire.
This year, I've lightened the salad dressing by using fat-free Greek yogurt. I think it pairs beautifully with tangy buttermilk and coarse ground black pepper. This delicious dressing keeps for up to 10 days when covered and refrigerated. It is also delicious as a dip for sliced fresh veggies or as a dressing for cabbage slaw.
Contact Alicia Ross at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Kitchen Scoop Web site at www.kitchenscoop.com.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Peppercorn Dressing
Start to finish: 10 minutes
4 medium heirloom tomatoes, variety of choice
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Wash and core tomatoes. Peel if desired, and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place decoratively on a platter or on individual salad plates. Set aside.
Prepare the dressing: Mix all the ingredients in a small jar or container with a lid. Whisk well and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with sliced tomatoes (or other salad of choice), using about 1 tablespoon dressing per serving.
Yield: 4 servings; dressing makes about 1 cup
Approximate values per tablespoon of dressing: 18 calories, 1.3 g fat (trace saturated), 2 mg cholesterol, 0.4 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, trace dietary fiber, 81 mg sodium.