Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Favorite Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil Vinaigrette

This salad is something I've been meaning to republish with a photo for quite a while, and it really is my very favorite way to eat tomatoes in the summer when they're ripe and juicy. I picked up a package of tomatoes from Costco which smelled good and ended up being very flavorful, and I had a few that needed to be used up before I go away. And since my version of Eat Local is going to be (1) grow as much of my own food in the garden as I can and (2) don't waste food, I needed to use the tomatoes, especially since they were rather pricey. I also had some Basil Vinaigrette in the fridge from the Lightly Steamed Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette that I contributed for Asparagus Aspirations, so I needed to use that up too.

As you can tell from the photo, I'm into goat cheese, the kind that comes in a log like Chevre, but it's certainly an acquired taste. If it's a taste you haven't yet acquired, there are a number of other white cheeses that would be good in this like Feta, fresh mozarella, or even cottage cheese for a very mild flavor. But if you're open-minded about goat cheese, give it a try. The combination of tomato, goat cheese, and basil is something I could have in my mouth every day and never grow tired of it.

I originally made this salad with a basil vinaigrette with fresh chopped basil added to purchased vinaigrette, and I ate it that way for a long time. Then somewhere last fall I hit upon the idea of making basil puree and combining it with the vinaigrette for more concentrated basil flavor, and I've been making it that way ever since. But if you don't have time to make the basil puree, or don't have that much fresh basil, just chop up some fresh basil and add it to your favorite Italian dressing, then drizzle it over tomatoes and goat cheese for a taste delight. (NO, you cannot use dried basil.)

Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil Vinaigrette

ripe summer tomatoes, about 2 per person
goat cheese such as Montrachet or Chevre, 1 slice per tomato, sliced thin or crumbled (slice when well chilled)
Basil vinaigrette for drizzling over
fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Basil Puree Ingredients:
1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup olive oil
(Freeze the leftovers for another use. You could make half this much if you're short on basil.)

Basil Vinaigrette Ingredients:
6 T your favorite no-sugar vinaigrette dressing
(I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing)
2 T basil puree

To make basil puree and basil vinaigrette, first combine fresh basil leaves and olive oil in food processor and process until basil is in very small pieces and fairly well integrated into olive oil. Remove puree, scraping sides of food processor. Then measure 6 T vinaigrette dressing and 2 T basil puree into food processor and pulse about one minute. (This can also be combined in a jar and shaken.)

When I have large tomatoes I like to cut them in thick slices and arrange in a flat glass casserole dish with a thin slice of goat cheese in the center of each tomato. For smaller tomatoes, I cut in fourths and crumble the goat cheese over. Either way is great. Then drizzle over desired amount of basil vinaigrette and serve.

South Beach Suggestions:
This salad is perfect for The South Beach Diet, any phase, but maybe with a little less goat cheese if you're actively trying to lose weight!  Be sure to choose vinaigrette with less than 2 grams of carbs per serving. This would taste great with Roast Chicken with Cilantro and Lime, Grilled Spicy Tuna, or Marinated Flank Steak.
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More to Chew On:


  1. Oh, Kalyn, I love the idea of a basil vinaigrette made with basil purée. I just usually use the whole basil leaves, but the purée would be easier to eat.

    Am about to plant my basil for the summer crop...

  2. Another of my favorite summer meals. We certainly are in sinc!

  3. Hi Elise, I'm about to plant my basil too. This year I'm trying a new location, right by a fence where it doesn't get quite so much water. I read somewhere that if you water the basil less it intensifies the flavor, but in my garden I have sprinklers so I can't adjust it that much.

    Ruth, you're right, we like so many of the same things. Maybe it's a sign thing, when's your birthday!

  4. Gorgeous! Have you done it with plain (well, it's never plain to me) balsamic vinegar?

  5. I'm a sucker for a goat cheese recipe - thanks for this one!

  6. Hereandthere, I think balsamic sounds great with this combo.

    Cate, you'll love it.

  7. Mmmmm, oooh this looks yummy. I love those Costco tomatoes - they seem to be the closest thing I can get to summer tomatoes.

  8. Mmmm...look at all that yummy goat cheese. I'm so ready for the tomatoes to be summer-sweet and for my basil to be full-grown (just some seedlings at this point...)

  9. My baby basil plants are asking to be snuggled into the earth. Think I'll get to it tomorrow. Thanks for a very informative blog. BTW, I wrote a book several years ago called A Cozy Book of Herbal Teas that has a gardening section. Do you know of it?


  10. Erin, you're right about the Costco tomatoes, although I always smell them and I only buy them when there's a tomato smell!

    Jennifer and Mindy, I'm hoping to plant my basil next week when I get back from D.C.

  11. Ooh, sexy!
    It's a little too early for tomatoes here (I suspect those aromatic Costco 'maters are from south of the border), but that's the kind of salad I eat all summer long.
    Can't wait.


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