Entertaining with the Charleston Silver Lady
This is an easy summer salad that can be adapted in many ways for many different occasions.
So many of you – myself included – likely have a silver tomato server. Most are round with heavily pierced and decorated surfaces, elevating the status of the humble garden tomato like only silver can do.
It is interesting to ponder why such a specific and high style implement would have been intentionally produced. The short answer is that tomatoes were available. Just about anyone with a patch of earth or large flower pot could grow them. in our hot, humid southern climate.
Those of you who attended my Antiques School will recall that we spent hours on the subject of available food and its influence on implements to showcase it.
Think about it and you will come to the realization that most silver and crystal were focused on serving foods that were easy to come by, elevating their status, making them special. You likely own or have seen silver implements for asparagus, berries, even corn. These high style implements were used to showcase the connection between the garden and the table.
All of us are just a generation or two behind those who canned or preserved everything they consumed. I am sure those of you reading this can take a drive to the country and still see a smokehouse or two.
This salad is a recipe that anyone can make with whatever they have on hand. It is really delicious. With the renewed interest in heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables, you really can bring the past to life with this recipe from long ago.
We ate this all summer long, even putting it over hot pasta or making huge bowls of it for church and family parties. This is a great way to use up the tomatoes that inevitably all come in at one time. We nearly always had a crystal punch bowl filled with this at every summer gathering, adding or taking to suit what you have on hand.
This recipe serves 4
4 medium vine ripe – ‘dead’ ripe I call them – tomatoes, any variety but adding a yellow one is beautiful in the bowl as are any combination of heirloom varieties.
If you can get your hands on what I grew up eating, Edisto tomatoes, it will be worth the effort. You can get them at Pink’s on Edisto most of the summer.
1 bunch of green onions - chopped medium using the green and white parts
1 hard boiled egg- peel and run it across a box grater for the best results
1 hot pepper, seeds removed and minced. Leave it out if you don’t like heat
2-3 Tbsp. of mayo to bind the salad
8 Carr’s or Waverly crackers, or any you have on hand. Reserve these till the end
salt and pepper
Now add things you have on hand that will make this even more special.
Suggestions: left over corn you have cooked, cut off the cob and chilled, cooked shrimp deveined, no tails, 1/2 cup of picked crab meat per 4 servings, capers, chopped olives, a peeled, seeded medium chopped cucumber (incredibly good mixed in).
Place your chosen ingredients in a large plastic bowl with lid. Chill about 3 hours.
This salad is best made about 3 hours ahead. Any longer and the tomatoes start to lose their taste. We all know a tomato in the refrigerator tastes totally different than one stored on the counter or window sill!
Take out about an 20 minutes before serving and give it a light stir.
As you are taking it to the table, break up the crackers over the salad.
A friend from Georgia reminded me of this so I’m sharing it with you in hopes you and yours will make it this summer.
Look through the silver you have tucked away and get out your silver tomato server. It was meant for round slices of tomato but can be a great conversation starter.
The Lexington Farmer’s Market is a great place for summer ingredients as is Sylvan Farms. Make it an adventure for you family to search out some fun this summer through recipes from the past.