Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

pinit fg en rect gray 28 Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

Final v1 Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

This salad is the happy result of a recent early morning meander through the Portland Farmers Market. In mid-August, the market is full to bursting and the choices are almost overwhelming.

Sungold Tomatoes Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

A huge variety of sweet and chile peppers overflow baskets onto large bunches of just picked basil and mint. Plump sweet onions nestle next to mountains of green and purple beans. Tomatoes are either as small as a marble or as large as your fist and range in color from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. Blackberries, yellow raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all vie for attention.

Tomato baskets Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

The shapes, textures, colors, and aromas are completely enthralling and transporting. A deep happiness fills my being. There is nowhere I would rather be than in the midst of this glorious profusion of homegrown and homemade fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, pickles, cheeses, preserves, pestos, breads, pastries, and pasta.

Yellow tomatos Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

Deciding what to buy and what to make brings me back to earth long enough to grab every color of baby tomato I can (red, orange, yellow), huge bunches of basil and mint, baby sweet onions, creamy farmstead goat cheese, and a carton of juicy, ripe blackberries. I’m thinking a salad of some sort, but that’s as far as I get until I unload the treasure an hour later in the OtherWorldly Kitchen.

Orange Tomatoes Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

The basil and mint nearly scream PESTO, so I begin there. Then the goat cheese seems an obvious addition and pesto becomes crèma, leaving plenty of pesto for pasta and crostini later in the week.

Ingredients 2 Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

The wild array of tomatoes assumes the starring role, accentuated by slivers of sweet onion and fat blackberries. I taste a tomato with a blackberry and decide to add a blackberry vinaigrette as well. The result is beautiful to the eyes, as well as the palate, which is just as it should be. And it makes me wish that summer would never end.

Salad 2 Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion, & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

This summer salad is bursting with flavor. Tomatoes are sweet and vibrant this time of year and pair beautifully with basil, mint, sweet onions, creamy goat cheese, and yes, even blackberries.

Serving Note   You can arrange the components of this salad in any number of ways, but the deep purple vinaigrette warrants consideration. You don’t want to muddy the color of the tomatoes with the vinaigrette. I like to serve it alongside, as everyone seems to want more anyway.

Basil Mint Pesto
1½ cups packed fresh basil leaves, plus a couple of extra sprigs
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, plus a couple of extra sprigs
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skinned
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup grapeseed oil (or part cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and part canola oil)
fine sea salt, to taste

Basil Mint Crèma
½ cup fresh goat cheese (or cream cheese, or combination)

½ cup Basil Mint Pesto
fine sea salt, to taste

Blackberry Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1 cup ripe blackberries (½ pint)
½ cup cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup blackberry or rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion (such as Walla Walla Sweet onion)
1 large clove garlic, peeled, and then minced or pressed
1 small sprig fresh mint
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad
1 pint orange cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
1 pint yellow plum tomatoes, stemmed and halved
1 cup ripe blackberries (½ pint)
3-4 baby sweet onions, thinly sliced (such as Walla Walla Sweet onion)
4-ounce package baby spinach, stems trimmed, optional

Garnish
tiny basil leaves, optional
French baguette, thinly sliced and toasted, optional

  1. To make Basil Mint Pesto, using a blender or processor, finely mince the basil, mint, hazelnuts, Parmesan, garlic, and lemon zest.
  2. With the machine running, slowly add the lemon juice and oil, and process until the desired consistency. Taste and add salt as needed.
  3. Remove ½ cup of pesto for the crèma. Put the remaining 1 cup of pesto in a container, cover, and refrigerate until needed in another dish.
  4. To make Basil Mint Crèma, in a processor, process the goat cheese until smooth. Add ½ cup of Basil Mint Pesto. Process until incorporated. You should have 1 cup of crèma. Scoop into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
  5. To make Blackberry Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, in a blender, puree 1 cup blackberries, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, mustard, onion, garlic, and mint. Taste and adjust balance of flavors as necessary, particularly the balance between vinegar, honey, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, smear a couple tablespoons of Basil & Mint Crèma in the center of each of four large salad plates. For each serving, arrange ¼ of the sliced yellow tomatoes, overlapping, to one side of the pesto. Arrange ¼ of the sliced onions, overlapping, to the other side of the pesto. Scatter ¼ of the remaining halved tomatoes and blackberries on each of the four plates. Drizzle Blackberry Honey Vinaigrette on the plates. Garnish with tiny basil leaves if desired.
  7. Alternatively, arrange spinach leaves on the bottoms of four large salad plates. For each serving, arrange ¼ of the sliced yellow tomatoes, overlapping, on either side of each plate. Pile ¼ of the tomatoes in the center of each plate and top with sliced onions and blackberries. Drizzle Blackberry Honey Vinaigrette on the plates. Garnish with tiny basil leaves if desired. Serve with crostini (from the French baguette) topped with Basil & Mint Crèma.

Serves 4.

Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

Comments

  1. This is a great salad! I made it last weekend and it tasted and looked as great as it does here! The left over crema was used on small crostini with fresh tomatoes for several days and they made great lunches. Thank you!

  2. Never saw such a salad variation but I like it.
    Thank you!
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