Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lemon and Tomato Salad

The staff at my school can be summed up in three words: small and social. There are very few of us, and we like to party! The "social committee" (or, the two teachers who plan all the events) plans everything: showers, going away parties, gifts for Boss's Day, etc. They threw me a surprise shower in December before the wedding (though admittedly I was pissed that I had to stay after school for a 'last minute faculty meeting'), and it was lovely. Another coworker is getting married in June and this week they threw her a shower as well. This time it wasn't a surprise, but I think it was still quite lovely.

Every time one of these events is planned, a sign up sheet goes around and every signs up and writes what they're going to bring. This time, they said, "Please don't bring desserts," and I said, "Well, crap." Not that I'm a dessert diva, but I figured I could whip up some cookies or brownies or blondies to do my part. I'm a decent cook, but I had no clue what to do as far as an appetizer. Vegetables and dip had been taken, hummus was already on the menu, and crackers and cheese was already taken. I couldn't show up without bringing anything (actually, I probably could've, but I would have felt bad), but I didn't know what else to bring. After researching online and calling my mom, I found a simple recipe that I could tweak a little bit. It went over surprisingly well! I was honestly surprised by how many people asked me for the recipe!

Here it is, with my thoughts at the end

Lemon & Tomato Salad

2-3 lemons
3-4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil

Finely grate enough zest from 1 lemon to measure 2 teaspoons. Trim ends of both lemons, then stand lemons on a cut side and cut off peel, including all white pith, from lemons with a sharp paring knife. Discard peel.

Cut segments free from membranes, then cut segments crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Toss lemon segments gently with sugar in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil, and mix well.

Stir in remaining ingredients and zest, then let stand, covered, at room temperature 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Notes:
  • Like I said, this was a big hit. The tomatoes tasted more like fruit than vegetable (which I guess is a plus, since tomatoes are fruit).
  • Cutting the lemons is time consuming. Wear rubber gloves if you've got a cut on your hands--I learned that acidic fruits and paper cuts do not get along the hard way (back in the day).
  • You can make this ahead of time, cover it, and pop it into the fridge. Just uncover it early enough to allow it to come to room temp. before your guests arrive. Or, just make part of it or halve the tomatoes early and mix right before you're ready to serve it.
  • Allow enough time to cut the the lemons! I always seem to get stuck on that step.
  • I topped this with a few tablespoons of chives, but you could omit the chives or substitute basil or oregano for a seasoning.
  • The natural oils in the lemons and tomatoes, combined with the oil, create a lovely marinade. You could easily make this salad as a marinade for dinner instead of serving it as a side salad.

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