Tomato and Peach Salad with Okra, Radishes, and Benne Seed Dressing
Source: Marcus Samuelsson, The Rise
Inspired by Shakirah Simley
The heirloom tomato might be the most fascinating food ever. They can be yellow, purple, pink, green, black, and white. They’re ugly and have strange names like Arkansas Traveler, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Mexico Midget, Black Russian, and Box Car Willie, but they all have a family story. They have, in fact, been “open pollinated,” meaning these old varieties were pollinated by breezes and bugs and passed down through generations of a family because of their unique and appreciated characteristics. Instead of being bred and manipulated for mass market, they are grown for their juiciness and taste. If someone had broken the chain, these cherished tomatoes would have been lost forever. Shakirah worked with Dan Barber at Stone Barns, which celebrates and preserves heirloom produce. What I love about this recipe is that the tomato, peaches, and radishes create sweet and bitter flavors.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Start to Finish: 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
½ pound fresh okra, stemmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ear corn
1 medium ripe heirloom tomato, cut into ½-inch wedges
3 medium peaches, plums, or any stone fruit, pitted and cut into ½-inch wedges
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems
½ cup Benne Seed Dressing (recipe below)
Combine the okra, oil, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. Add the okra in a single layer and cook until dark and lightly charred in spots, about 6 minutes. Remove the okra from the heat and allow to cool.
Cut the kernels off the cob into a large mixing bowl. Add the okra, tomato, peaches, radishes, shallot, dill, mint, and parsley and toss to combine. Add the dressing and gently toss. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Benne Seed Dressing
Benne seeds, used throughout West Africa, are delicious in vinaigrettes, salads, and sauces and, being derived from the same plant, they make a great substitute for sesame seeds. One of the many foods that European and white American traders imported from Africa during the enslavement period. Benne followed the rice growers, which is how it became common to the Low Country.
You can make your own benne seed paste by lightly toasting benne seeds, allowing to cool completely, and then pounding them into a paste using a mortar and pestle. The paste will keep, topped with some sesame seed or a neutral oil in an airtight container, for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
Active Time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 15 minutes
Makes about 1 cup
1 tablespoon sorghum syrup or wildflower honey
2 cloves garlic, grated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons benne seed paste (or tahini)
¼ cup sesame seed oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons toasted benne seeds (or sesame seeds)
In a blender, combine the sorghum syrup, garlic, lemon zest, juice, and water. In a mixing bowl, combine the benne seed paste and oil. With the blender going, add the oil mixture in a thin stream and blend until vinaigrette comes together and emulsifies. Season with salt and cracked black pepper and stir in the benne seeds.
Excerpted from THE RISE by Marcus Samuelsson with Osayi Endolyn. Recipes with Yewande Komolafe and Tamie Cook. Copyright © 2020 by Marcus Samuelsson. Photographs by Angie Mosier. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.