A Genius Tomato Salad Primed for Picnics

Hetty McKinnon’s latest recipe showcases the range of frozen dumplings.

By Melissa Clark

During the Food section’s weekly staff meeting, everyone went absolutely nuts over the photo of Hetty McKinnon’s dumpling tomato salad with chile crisp vinaigrette (above). Hetty’s recipes are always top-shelf, but this one goes above and beyond with its gorgeous, summery simplicity.

She marinates a mix of tomatoes with grated garlic, basil and salt while she pan-fries some frozen dumplings. The hot dumplings are added to the tomato bowl, topped with a quick dressing of chile crisp and soy sauce, and sprinkled with (store-bought) fried shallots for a speedy meal that’s just as spectacular eaten out of a container on a picnic blanket as it is off a plate on your dinner table.

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Dumpling Tomato Salad With Chile Crisp Vinaigrette

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I mention picnics because the season is here in New York City, along with all of the other alfresco dining options overflowing in this town: breezy sidewalk cafes, beaches, the ballpark, the boardwalk, the teeming markets and stalls. It’s thrilling, but I admit it can seem a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, our Where to Eat maven Nikita Richardson (with help from members of the Food staff) has put together an immersive, expansive guide to exploring New York summer dining, whether you’re looking for a rooftop bar in Williamsburg or a clam bar in the Hamptons.

Closer to home, an easier alfresco option might be your very own backyard (or stoop, sidewalk, courtyard or fire escape). We’ve got plenty of quick, summery recipes for you to peruse, like a classic pasta salad with mozzarella and salami or an herb-filled tabbouleh, either of which would be lovely paired with Sue Li’s five-ingredient roasted gochujang salmon.

Yotam Ottolenghi has a new recipe this week that’s slightly more involved, but just as colorful and fresh. Zaalouk with tahini is a Moroccan salad with spiced tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, all coated in a plush tahini-lemon dressing. Scoop it up with bread as a light meal, or serve it alongside roasted meats or fish for something more substantial.

In the dessert department, I just sliced open my first watermelon of the season. I ate it with flaky sea salt sprinkled on top and some vanilla ice cream on the side. Not a recipe exactly, but a very fine idea.

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Salt Your Tomatoes Ahead

To get the best flavor out of your tomatoes, slice and salt them at least 15 to 30 minutes ahead of serving. Not only does this bring out the deep sweetness of ripe summer tomatoes, but it also can do wonders for subpar supermarket tomatoes in the depths of winter. Mix the tomato liquid that collects at the bottom of the bowl back into the dish, or just pour it off and drink it on the sly. Cheers to being the cook!

Melissa Clark has been a columnist for the Food section since 2007. She reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She has also written dozens of cookbooks. @MelissaClark Facebook

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