There was a modicum of ambivalence about this dish. I mean, here you have these breathtaking, ripe, juicy heirloom tomatoes. You have a perfectly lovely dressing made with delectable, pungent Roquefort cheese. And somehow, it seems like lily-gilding to smother the splendid fruits with anything other than a simple sprinkling of fleur de sel and a drizzle of good olive oil (and a little fresh basil if you like). It’s the culinary equivalent of donning a darling little black dress, and then accessorizing with Giuseppe Zanotti crystal platform heels, chain-stripe hosiery, diamond chandelier earrings, elbow-length black gloves, stackable bangles, opera-length pearls, and a tiara.

On the other hand, if you’re ever going to make this recipe, you have to do it when the gettin’s good for heirlooms. My sister was flipping through the cookbooks and gave an admiring, “Ooooh!” when she saw the photo accompanying this recipe. So at the expense of my brother-in-law’s fave, Corn & Tomato Salad, I decided to make this. The farmstand had a harvest of tomatoes to behold: Purple Cherokees, Banana Tomatoes, Yellow Perfection, beefsteaks, and some wacky multi-lobed cherries (someone had just bought the last of the few green zebras). I added to the mix some perfectly sweet grape tomatoes a friend in Narragansett had given me earlier in the week, and the platter of cut tomatoes looked like a quintessential summer masterpiece.

The dressing takes but a minute to whip up in the food processor, and then you drizzle it on the tomatoes and crumble some of the leftover Roquefort. It looked so pretty! And there was really nothing wrong with the taste of any element; it’s just that the dressing wasn’t necessary. Perhaps it was a textural thing…overpowering creaminess for the delicate, fleshy tomatoes. I kept scraping the dressing off each bite of tomato, and instead swept up a dry Roquefort morsel with each forkful. We three tasters watched longingly as our other two tomato-eating dinnermates shared a plate of undressed tomatoes ““ one doesn’t care for mayonnaise and the other doesn’t like blue cheese, so we had sliced up some beauties without this dressing for them.

Maybe the dressing is a good foil for the atrocity that is winter tomatoes. But it’s just sheer overkill for the magnificence of short-seasoned local summer tomatoes.



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