A real treat for us tomato heads is an entire meal based on them. To this day the only chef I have found who can truly pull it off is Christian Étienne in Avignon. I have sent friends to him who liked it so much, they had to go back the same week. The versatility of tomatoes is such that you can contemplate even a multicourse meal centered on them without a chance of boredom. And no American ever sees a tomato dessert coming!
11⁄2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons basil cut into chiffonade
Yield: 4 Servings
Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick, and spread equally over 4 flat dishes. Sprinkle with the salt, and let stand for 20 minutes. (This is the trick that extracts flavor.) Then remove excess water with paper towels. Drizzle each dish of tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and season with pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the basil, and serve with country bread to dunk into that delicious juice and clean the plate. Optional: Some people like to add a drop or two of vinegar or some finely sliced onions.