Few fresh foods are more tempting than a tomato in season. The only "preparation" it needs is to be pulled off the vine, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Done!
But until those perfect specimens appear, try this recipe's roasted tomato vinaigrette. It's a knockout. Any tomato will do - beefsteak, plum, cherry, you name it - as long as it's ripe.
To determine its ripeness, simply smell the stem end, which should boast an intense aroma of ... tomato. Then roast the winners to eliminate excess water and concentrate their flavor. Finally, puree them with sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. (Sherry vinegar is my favorite, but you're welcome to use balsamic, white or red wine or even cider vinegar instead.)
The vinaigrette's acid kick makes this sauce a great partner for fish, and the aioli's garlicky creaminess makes it a suave complement to the vinaigrette.
The fish is best with a light crust. You can achieve that by dipping the fillets in flour to start. (My favorite is Wondra flour, the kind my grandmother used to make gravies because it never lumped.)
Sauteing the fish takes no time at all; you can prepare the rest of the meal, then wait until the last minute to cook the fish. Or you can cook the fish a little bit ahead and serve it at room temperature, which might be preferable on a hot summer's night.
The beauty of this recipe is that the two sauces can be made as many as four days ahead. Just keep them covered and chilled, then whisk a bit before serving. Even better, they happen to go very well not only with sauteed fish, but also with grilled chicken, shrimp or vegetables. Or you can double down on the seasonal bounty by tossing the vinaigrette with chopped fresh tomatoes and then piling the mixture onto grilled bread drizzled with the aioli. It's an appetizer so good you may end up forgetting about the main course.