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This June 2, 2014 photo shows tomato and avocado salad with gingered tomato vinaigrette and toasted peanuts in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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Celebrate the season with a tomato salad

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Updated: 6:20 AM

By SARA MOULTON

The Associated Press

At the peak of ripeness, an in-season tomato is one of the things that makes life worth living. Happily, that season is upon us. And this recipe is my ode to that summer tomato.

I've teamed up the tomatoes with one of their best friends, an avocado, the creaminess of which contrasts beautifully with the tomato's acidity. Come to think of it, tomatoes have many best friends. Certainly, there's not a fresh herb that doesn't play nicely with tomatoes. So if you don't have mint in the house, feel free to substitute basil, cilantro, chives, oregano, dill, parsley, tarragon or any other fresh green herb.

Topping the salad are some thinly-sliced serrano chilies, which provide a jolt of heat to counterbalance the tomato's sweetness. Obviously, it you worry that they might be too hot, just leave them out. The final touch? Some chopped peanuts for crunch.

And that's my ode to tomatoes.

TOMATO AND AVOCADO SALAD

WITH GINGERED TOMATO VINAIGRETTE AND TOASTED PEANUTS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick

1 cup chopped assorted small tomatoes

Salt and ground black pepper

1 small ripe tomato (4 to 6 ounces), coarsely chopped

1/2 small clove garlic, smashed

2-inch piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably grape seed

1 firm ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced

1/2 to 1 serrano chili, thinly sliced crosswise (optional)

1/4 cup shredded fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Sprinkle the beefsteak tomato slices lightly on both sides with salt, then arrange them on a plate and let them stand for 15 to 20 minutes. In a small strainer, toss the chopped tomatoes with a bit of salt and set them over the sink or a bowl to drain for the same period.

While the tomatoes are draining, in a blender combine the small tomato, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar and oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Pat the tomato slices dry and on a platter arrange alternating slices of the beefsteak tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle the tomatoes and avocados with most of the dressing, then top them evenly with the chopped small tomatoes. Scatter the serrano slices, mint and peanuts evenly over the top. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

     

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