Submitted by Jean Dough of the North Shore, who gets the tomatoes for this recipe from an “area CSA” and picks up a free copy of Edible Boston at Nancy’s Airfield Café in Stow, MA.
I absolutely love the completeness of the tomato. Nothing beats a straight-out-of-the-garden, sun-warmed slice with a dash of salt. I created this recipe to celebrate that experience with an umami boost. The textural component play creates micro changes in the bite and flavor.
Note: Try to use the best quality ingredients you can find. The balance of flavors is much easier to achieve.
3 medium in-season tomatoes (recommend a variety with a touch of sweetness)
¼ teaspoon sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon small fish roe (tobiko, trout, etc.)
Kosher salt or your favorite fine grain artisan salt
Optional: one sun dried tomato
Prepare the quinoa in boiling water according to the cooking instructions on the package. Add a couple pinches of salt to the water. (Optional: Add one sun dried tomato when the water comes to a boil for depth.) Set it aside and allow it to cool to room temperature. Fluff it every now and then to aid in evaporation and cooling.
I recommend mixing with your hands from here on as part of the textural experience.
Combine vinegar, fish sauce and oil in a small bowl for a vinaigrette. Use your finger to mix and emulsify. The amount is too small to use a whisk/fork. As an alternative, scale up and only leave 1 teaspoon of vinaigrette in the bowl.
On a large cutting board, medium dice the tomatoes, very lightly sprinkle with salt (do not overdo) and mix with your fingers. Tomatoes should not taste salty.
Add 1/3 cup of the cooled quinoa to the small bowl of vinaigrette. Fluff with fingers or fork to combine. The quinoa should be barely coated with the vinaigrette. It should have a briny acidic pop, but not overpowering. Add more quinoa or even vinaigrette to reach this balance.
Sprinkle ¼ cup of dressed quinoa over the tomatoes and mix with your fingers. As required, add more quinoa until you reach approximately 50% surface coverage of the tomato pieces. Remember, tomatoes are the focus here. Sprinkle roe over the tomatoes and transfer to a bowl for service. Limit the transfer of juices so the salad isn’t wet.