Ever since heirloom tomatoes hit the farmers market, I've been picking up several to eat throughout the week. But I figured I needed to do something new with them instead of just making the standard Insalata Caprese. I didn't want to heat them up and cook with them because I enjoy the fresh wonderful tomato flavor, so I set about looking for something else to do with them.
I picked up these tomatoes at a stand at my local farmers market. Alas, I did not get the name of the stand or what kind of tomatoes these were. Heck they didn't have any signs at all on most of their foods. They don't sell much at this stand and there are many other stands which sell heirloom tomatoes, but for some reason the past couple of weeks I've bought my tomatoes from them (there is a larger stand right across from them with a vocal seller so maybe I just like helping the little guy...at least their tomatoes taste pretty dang good).
Quite soon after deciding to try something new, I came across this recipe in the September issue of Fine Cooking (the one with the yummy BLT burger on the front). It looked yummy and simple enough to do. Plus it meant making Parmesan Crisps which I love. The original recipe does have "& Herb Salad" after the name as you are to serve on a bed of arugula, basil, tarragon leaves with some nasturtium leaves thrown in. Didn't sound appealing to me (okay it just sounded like a lot more work) so I just fixed this and put it on a bed of pre-packaged salad greens. I also didn't see any of the small heirloom cherry tomatoes so I left those out. For complete recipe go here.
Very tasty and simple to make. You could even make it simpler by using your favorite vinaigrette (bottled or homemade). I loved the crunch of the parmesan crisps in this and was happy with the simple greens underneath.
I had also gone looking for a new tomato recipe after reading about The Houndstooth Gourmets “You say tomato, I say tomahto” event. By sending her a favorite fresh field (not canned or dried) tomato recipe/dish she will enter you in a contest to win Thomas Kellers Bouchon cookbook. I'm looking forward to all the recipes this event brings my way as I'm going to be buying heirloom tomatoes as long as they sell them at the market. For more info on this event go here.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO NAPOLEON WITH PARMESAN CRISPS
From the September 2008 issue of Fine Cooking
FOR THE PARMESAN CRISPS
2 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 1/2 Tbs.)
4 tsp. Champagne vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil or canola oil
4 cups Mixed Salad Greens
1/3 inch thick heirloom tomatoes slices (they say 16 for four people) preferably of different colors, sizes and shapes
MAKE THE PARMESAN CRISPS: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a nonstick baking liner or parchment. Spread the grated cheese over the entire surface of the liner. Bake until the cheese is amber brown, about 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Break into irregular pieces (each about 3 inches across). You'll need 12 pieces for the Napoleons, but this batch makes extra to cover the inevitable breaking (and snacking).
MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE: Put the shallot, vinegar, mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl or dressing cruet. Allow the shallots to sit in the vinegar for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. Whisk or shake in both oils. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
TO SERVE: In a large bowl, place the salad greens. Lightly dress with some of the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the salad evenly among 4 salad plates. Arrange a large tomato slice on the salad, sprinkle lightly with salt, and top with a piece of parmesan crisp. Continue to alternate the lightly salted tomatoes and cheese pieces until you have used 3 pieces of parmesan crisp for each Napoleon. Finish off the top of each Napoleon with an unsalted tomato slice. Drizzle vinaigrette around the plates (I put it over the tomatoes). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
NOTE: Or in a nutshell, for one person take some salad, put it on a plate, dress with a bit of dressing, alternate slices of heirloom tomato and parmesan crisps till you get to a height that looks cool. Drizzle dressing over tomatoes and crisps and then salt and pepper to taste. It does look pretty dang cool on a plate.
NOTE: I used canola oil. I used tomatoes about the same size which presented a more uniform "stack".
NOTE: The vinaigrette was okay but nothing special. I'm sure it would taste fine with your favorite vinaigrette. I drizzled it over the entire stack.
NOTE: I used parchment paper for the Parmesan crisps. Watch them carefully because they can burn easily. I baked them about 15 minutes and that might have been a few minutes too long.
NOTE: I made this for one and it was my dinner. I then took some cheese crisps in a ziplock with some lettuce and tomatoes and had them for a salad the next day (I just didn't make a stack out of them). The salad dressing lasted through several makings (I usually put more dressing on my salads than most). The extra Parmesan crisps are great as a snack and work well on South Beach or Somersize. Or try them as a cracker with some salami for a no-carb snack.
This is a cool salad that presents very well (not to mention it's pretty dang tasty).