Monday, June 13, 2005

Central Market 'Mater Salad

We got this salad at one of the market stands last week, and It was awesome. One of the weird knacks I have is being able to figure out what's in something, so I can make it again at home. It doesn't work out every time, but usually I can figure stuff out, if I really like it. That said, I hit this one spot on.

Central Market 'Mater Salad

Again, I hate measuring. Scale this base idea up or down depending on your tastes and the number of people you have to feed. This particular batch made a nice sized bowl full (bigger than a cereal bowl, smaller than a 10 cup tupperware container) for a side dish. I have enough for lunch tomorrow (paired with some lemon-pepper tuna), easily.

You'll need:

2-3 medium tomatoes. Get the ugly-ripe ones, or a box of the campari brand ones, if good tomatoes aren't in season.
1 lime
1 rib of celery
1 1 small tin of sliced black olives
1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Chop up your tomatoes into bite sized pieces. You may wish to use more tomatoes, but whatever you do, for the love of pete, do not use styrofoam, flavorless, wooden tomatoes. Your salad will suck*. Ripe, juicy, flavorful tomatoes are crucial to this recipe. Slice up your celery into reasonably thin-ish slices. You don't have to split the rib in half, though, unless it's ginormous. Toss both into a bowl and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the lot. Mix it together, toss on your drained olives, minced cilantro**, and squeeze on the juice of half the lime. Reserve the other half of the lime for iced tea, margaritas, or in case your salad needs it later.

Pop the whole lot into the fridge and let it sit for a bit. The tomatoes will give up some of their delicious juice, mingle with the lime and cilantro, and make the whole thing pretty much scream SUMMER at the top of its little tomatoey lungs. SO. Good.

Edited to add: If you're feeling particularly adventuresome, the leftovers of the salad are especially tasty when you add in some cooked tortellini, and let the whole thing sit for a while. You may need a bit more lime juice, and a shot of olive oil, but the thing will be ultra-tasty. (So discovered because I made Barilla's dried porcini mushroom tortellini for supper, and put the extra pasta in the leftover salad. Will make an awesome lunch!)

* Seriously. If you use crappy tomatoes, I will know, and I'll smack you. Use the Cherry-Berry ones if you want, but don't use shitty tomatoes.

** I don't want to hear "I don't like cilantro". Use it. My mother, whose vehement hatred of cilantro rivals only her abiding hatred of CCR, didn't mind the cilantro in this recipe. Besides, Cilantro and Lime is a classic. Hell, if I could bottle the fragrance of C&L, and wear it, I would.


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