Summer means tomatoes to me, whether I’m talking about the old days when we grew our own or these days when I see them in the farmers market. When they’re at the peak of ripeness, the less you do to them, the better. Depending on the variety of tomato you use, the flavor will be some combination of sweet, tangy and salty. That’s the same combination in the dressing here. There’s a little sugar in both the vinaigrette and the rib rub. That helps heighten the sweetness of the tomatoes and onion. The tang of the vinegar and the brightness of the salt combine to enhance what nature already did for flavor.
Wash and core the tomatoes. Cut them into slices, wedges or chunks and place them in a medium bowl.
Add the vinaigrette, salt and onion and gently toss until the tomatoes are coated evenly. Set the mixture aside to macerate at room temperature for about 10 minutes. This will soften the onions slightly; it will also draw out the natural juices in the tomatoes and allow the flavors to marry.
Right before serving, add the basil and the rub. Toss to combine, then transfer to a platter and serve.
In a small bowl, whisk together Rodney’s Sauce and the mustard. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to create a creamy emulsion. Add the salt and whisk until it is thoroughly incorporated. Use immediately or store in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Shake vigorously before use. Makes about 1 ¼ cups.
Rodney's BBQ Sauce
In a medium saucepan, warm the vinegar over medium-high heat. After about 5 minutes, when the vinegar reaches 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and just before it starts to simmer, add the lemon slices and cook until the lemon peels begin to soften and wilt, about 10 minutes more.
Whisk in the black pepper, cayenne, chile flakes and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sauce reaches 190 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool completely.
Pour the sauce through a strainer and discard the lemon slices. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 4 cups.
Rodney's Rib Rub
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and place them in an airtight container. Cover and store in a cool, dry place until ready to use. Makes 1 cup.
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