Food & Drink

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Celebrate the season with this summertime side dish

photo: Johnny Autry

Summertime in these parts means swimming holes, seersucker suits, boat drinks, and fried shrimp. And, of course, heirloom tomatoes and fresh-off-the-tree peaches. At the Shack, a twenty-six-seat restaurant in small-town Staunton, Virginia, chef Ian Boden celebrates each summer with a new tomato and peach salad. This one balances fresh tomatoes and grilled peach wedges with quick-pickled charred shallots, the licorice-like sweetness of Thai basil, creamy burrata, and a dusky hint of sorghum syrup. “I see food like music,” Boden says. “The vinegar hits the high note, and the tomatoes and peaches hit the middle note, and the sorghum is the bass. It has some funkiness, and a bitterness that plays off the sweetness of the fruit.” Choose firm peaches, which won’t fall apart as they cook, and a collection of whatever heirloom tomatoes strike a chord with you.


  • Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Peaches, Pickled Charred Shallots, and Burrata with Sorghum Vinaigrette

    • 2 peaches, halved and pitted

    • Neutral oil, such as canola

    • 3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced

    • 1 qt. heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

    • Sorghum Vinaigrette (recipe below)

    • Pickled Charred Shallots (recipe below)

    • 3 burrata balls, halved

    • Extra-virgin olive oil

    • Sea salt

    • Freshly ground black pepper

    • Thai basil leaves

  • Sorghum Vinaigrette

    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

    • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar

    • 1/4 cup sorghum syrup

    • 1 pinch salt

    • 2 grinds black pepper

    • 1/2 cup neutral oil

    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Georgia Olive Farms

  • Pickled Charred Shallots

    • 2 shallots, peeled and halved

    • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

    • 1/2 cup water

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 1 tsp. sugar

    • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh

    • 1/2 fresh Thai red chile


  1. Heat grill or cast-iron grill pan over medium-high until smoking hot. Lightly rub halved peaches with neutral oil, place on grill or pan cut side down, and grill until hatch marks form on the cut side (about 1–2 minutes). Remove peaches from grill or pan and, when cooled to room temperature, slice vertically.

  2. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with Sorghum Vinaigrette. Marinate for 10 minutes.

  3. On a large serving platter or individual plates, arrange the tomatoes, peaches, and Pickled Charred Shallots to cover the bottom of the plate. Place 1 burrata half on each plate. Drizzle it with olive oil and a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper, then garnish the plate with basil.

  4. For the sorghum vinaigrette:

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegars with sorghum, salt, and pepper, then slowly drizzle in each oil, whisking constantly. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

  5. For the shallots:

    Heat grill or cast-iron grill pan over medium-high until smoking hot. Place halved shallots cut side down till well charred but not burned. Remove from pan and cool, then separate layers or slice vertically (through the root end) and place in an airtight container.

  6. Pour remaining ingredients into a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and taste to make sure pickle brine is well balanced, adjusting seasoning if necessary.

  7. Pour hot brine over shallots and leave container uncovered on counter until cooled to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. (The shallots will quick-pickle in 1 hour if you want to make this salad on the same day. But they’ll be better a few days later; the flavor intensifies over time.)

Recipes from chef Ian Boden of The Shack in Staunton, Virginia