Adrienne Gajownik


Thomas' tomato salad

Every summer my mom would pack us three kids into the white Ford Aerostar. We'd drive eight hours south before arriving in a very small town in Georgia to visit her side of the family. My grandparents were divorced and lived 40 minutes apart, so we spent half of the week with each of them.

His name was Thomas, but to us he was Grandaddy. A jovial man with a heart of gold. He'd whip up amazing farm-to-table meals before I even understood what that meant. There would be a low country boil thrown out onto newspaper-covered picnic tables and freshly-caught catfish shaken in paper bags of cornmeal and flour before throwing into the deep fryer. The man could cook.

One of my favorite things he would make was probably the simplest. He would cut ripe tomatoes from the garden into wedges, cover with Italian dressing, and set aside to marinate on the lazy susan in the middle of the dining table. Oh, how I loved those tomatoes.
Slowly tomatoes are starting to appear at the farmers market. I've been anticipating this moment for months. Last weekend I decided to make my Grandaddy's tomatoes for an afternoon snack, but instead of store-bought Italian dressing, I made my own vinaigrette. I think he would approve.

Thomas' tomato salad 
Serves one
1 large local ripe tomato, cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar
pinch of sea salt & cracked pepper
1/4 tsp oregano, dried
1 tbsp fresh dill
2 basil leaves, chiffonade

Put the tomato into a small bowl. Mix the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Pour over the tomatoes and sprinkle with dill and basil.

I prefer the tomatoes at room temperature, so I eat them immediately. A few goat cheese crumbles wouldn't hurt either.