The Festival – Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
I cannot believe how quickly our first five weeks in Nashville have flown by, It feels like we only just arrived, and yet, despite the newness of life here in Nashville, our old place and usual haunts in Delaware seem ages away in the distant past. I guess thats the way time goes. This weekend marks an event that I have been excited about and looking forward to since our arrival. The annual “Tomato Fest” in East Nashville takes place a mere two blocks from our house and is one of the largest block party style galas of the summer. Referred to locally as just “The Tomato” this extravaganza boasts numerous activities including a 5K and Art Contest devoted entirely to summer’s blushing beauty – the tomato.
As a tribute to the event I wanted to put forth a tomato themed post this week. I saw this recipe featured in the July edition of Bon Appetit and knew, right away, that I needed to make it. The recipe was originally written as a steak salad, but the flavors of the tomato mixture really stand out on their own. The salad makes a great play on a classic bloody mary by incorporating the drink’s usual ingredients into an entirely different sort of dish. This recipe also offers a great opportunity to make use of the pale leaves and slightly sweet inner ribs that typically get discarded from a large bunch of celery.
The combination of tomato and celery is a real winner and serves as a light and cooling summer side which reminds me very much of a classic summer-style tomato and cucumber salad. The presence of horseradish and celery seeds, two of my all time favorite ingredients, are really what makes this dish special to me. While the dish was intended to be served alongside a juicy grilled steak, I imagine it would also make a great side dish for burgers, fried oysters, or roast beef. Be careful that you use celery seed and not celery salt, if you only have celery salt on hand make sure you add only a bit a a tine and taste, taste, taste to ensure that it is not too salty before adding and final seasoning. For olives I like to use nice zesty picholine olives but you can really use any good, firm green olives you have available.
Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
1 Cup Onion, Finely Chopped
3 TBSP Sherry Vinegar, Divided
2 Lbs Grape Tomatoes, Cut in Half Lengthwise
1 Cup Chopped Celery Hearts, Including Inner Leaves and Inner Yellow Stalks
1/2 Cup Green Olives, Pitted and Chopped
2 TBSPs Olive Brine
2 TBSPS Prepared Horseradish
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBSP Hot Sauce
1 TSP Celery Seeds
1/3 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Pepper
Place onions in the bottom of a large bowl and add 1 TBSP Sherry, stir to combine and let rest for 10 mins. This will take the harsh bite off of the onions.
Add tomatoes, celery, olives, brine, horse radish, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and celery seeds and stir.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Taste again and adjust seasonings. True to Bloody Mary form, I like this firmly on the peppery side.
Slowly drizzle on oil, toss to combine, and serve.