Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Heirloom Tomato Salad

My favorite lunch spot is at Lucques. They have the best Heirloom Tomato Salad I have ever tasted. I was so curious to know the cheese they use and what was in their dressing. My wish came true. Suzanne Goin published a cookbook of Lucques favorites. Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes From Market to Table. To my surprise on page 135 was my favorite salad recipe. Here it is:

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Croutons, and Opal Basil

1/3 pound country white bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
1/2 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, assorted sizes, shapes and colors
1 teaspoons fleur de sel
2 tablespoons sliced opal basil
2 tablespoons sliced green basil
1 pound burrata cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
Cut the crust off the bread and tear the remaining loaf into rustic 1-inch pieces. Using your hands, toss the pieces with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, squeezing the bread gently to help absorb the oil. Toast on a baking sheet 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a few times, until the croutons are golden brown and crispy on the outside but still soft and tender on the inside.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic, and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the vinegars. Whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil and taste for balance and seasoning.

Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut them into wedges and set them aside. Then one by one, hold the remaining tomatoes on their sides and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Season the slices with the fleur de sel and some pepper. Place the slices overlapping on a large platter, spoon a little of the vinaigrette over them, and scatter a little basil on top.

Toss the heirloom wedges and cherry tomatoes gently in a large bowl with the sliced shallots, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, a pinch of pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette if you like. Toss in the croutons. Arrange on large platter. Scatter parsley and remaining basil over the top of the salad.


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