After a week away from my tomato garden—on a seven-day silent Insight Meditation retreat—I’m back to feverishly harvesting my back yard abundance. I did a major harvest before I left, so that the retreat center’s fabulous cook could add garden-fresh tomatoes and herbs to her creations. It was fun seeing my tomatoes, basil, mint and Italian parsley show up in meals throughout the week. Fortunately, there’s plenty more for me to enjoy this week and beyond.
I’ve never been a huge fan of pasta salads. It’s not that I don’t like pasta—I do—but pasta so often drinks up the oil and vinegar that flavors the salad, leaving the salad bland and tasteless save for the pasta’s companion ingredients. This salad does not follow the pattern. The companion ingredients, especially if you use plenty of homegrown or heirloom tomatoes, are very strongly flavored, and the ravioli filling also adds its own flavor.
I generally use more tomatoes than the recipe calls for, just because I have them and they’re so good. I usually use Rising Moon Organics frozen ravioli with great results. You can find Rising Moon products at Whole Foods and in some larger grocery stores. Rising Moon has plenty of cheese-filled options as well as some excellent vegan ones.
I’ve never tried using gluten-free ravioli, but there are sources for it. Here are a few:
This recipe comes from my perennial favorite cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It calls for peeling the tomatoes, but I have never done this when I’ve made this recipe. I find that the tomatoes hold together better when they still have their skins. Also, because I use heirlooms of many colors, I find the skins to be a beautiful addition to the salad. If you decide not to peel your tomatoes you can skip almost the whole first paragraph of instructions, except for the very last sentence.
In the salad pictured above I used Hillbilly Flame, Black from Tula, Moonglow, Cherokee Purple and Tigerella tomatoes.
Ravioli and Tomato Salad with Masses of Basil
2 lb (or more!) ripe tomatoes
1 6-oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and halved (optional)
1 bunch basil, leaves torn into pieces (I like to use both green and purple basil for contrast)
1/2 cup olives, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar