Ah, San Francisco. Recently anointed the top food city in the world. Here's why.
After an all-day free show in Golden Gate Park, my friend Beth and I were ravenous. We headed to Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission. When I know I'm about to take down an entire pizza, I try to justify it by eating something vaguely healthy on the side. So I ordered the heirloom tomato salad, thinking it would be a ho-hum pile of cherry tomatoes dressed with something pleasing, delicious but ultimately forgettable.
But no. In one of the best pizzerias in one of the world's best food cities, plain old tomato salad is not OK. Instead, a huge stack of glistening red, green, purple and yellow tomatoes appeared, slathered with deep black tapenade, slicked with pungent olive oil. The briny Nicoise olives and capers against the sweet, juicy tomatoes were glorious. So simple, but so, so, so damn good.
It almost made me forget the pizza. Almost.
Heirloom Tomato and Tapenade Salad
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 0 Total Time: 10 min
6 oz pitted black olives (Nicoise or Kalamata are great)
1 Tbs capers, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 anchovy fillet, minced
handful of fresh basil leaves, some chopped finely to make 1 Tbs
2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tsp red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
4 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1/2" rounds
Chop the olives into a medium-fine dice. You don't want big chunks, but you also don't want to take it all the way down to a paste. Use a food processor if you really don't feel like getting your hands dirty, but I prefer a nice rustic hand chopping myself.
Mix in the capers, garlic and anchovy, then add the olive oil, vinegar and black pepper. Taste and adjust the vinegar and seasoning if necessary, and add more oil if it seems too dry.
Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, tucking whole basil leaves around the tomatoes. Smear some tapenade over the tomatoes, then drizzle on some olive oil.
Serve at room temperature - don't refrigerate the tomatoes. You lose a lot of flavor and the texture gets a little mushy.