A Mid-Summer Salad
All the tomatoes are beautiful right now but I'm eating the heirloom tomatoes almost every day. They've got so much flavor. And there were some lovely ones in our Fresh Market last week, I couldn't resist.
I had Thomas Keller's tomato sorbet in mind when I bought them, (which I ended up making as well and will post soon) but then I remembered a recipe I had seen on Top Chef made by Miami Chef Jeff McInnis. I had copied and saved it. (Jeff is the Chef de Cuisine of The DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach.) He made a Heirloom Tomato Salad, Asparagus and Cucumber Ribbons with a Goat Cheese Sorbet for one of the challenges.
Lest we forget, tomatoes are a fruit. So I thought, hmmmm. Goat cheese sorbet? Well, I do love goat cheese in my salads, so this sounded good to me. And I really wanted to see how McInnis's flavors went together.
The sorbet couldn't be easier to make, although you do need an ice cream maker. I love that it's mainly Greek yogurt with honey as a sweetener. The goat cheese is melted into some cream and then mixed with the yogurt mixture. I stuck my spoon in it before I stuck it in the fridge to chill, it's a bit sweet (even though I cut way back on the honey) and I could barely taste the goat cheese (I thought it would be stronger), but I went ahead and froze it. I taste-tested again right out of the ice cream maker; it's tart, slightly sweet and yes, I could taste both the goat cheese and the yogurt. And it was ever so slightly grainy. I really was surprised I liked it so much with the tomatoes and think it would also be great with some caramelized fresh fruit over it for dessert. But I went ahead and made the salad....there's plenty left to use for an interesting dessert experiment later. (With port-infused figs maybe? Or a scoop of this would be marvelous on an apple tart!)
The heirloom tomato part is easy enough to throw together. McInnis suggests Verjus vinegar for this recipe and I was pleasantly surprised. Deana from Long Past Remembered did a post on Verjus a while back and I was intrigued and ordered some. (Thank you Deana!). This vinegar does make a difference, but if you don't have any, don't let that stop y0u from making this salad, just use white wine vinegar.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Sorbet
Courtesy Jeff McInnis
6 heirloom tomatoes (each a different type)
1/8 ounces micro basil
pinch sea salt
asparagus and cucumber for garnish
3 tablespoons Verjus vinegar
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Goat Cheese Sorbet:
2 cups Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
juice of 2 lemons
1-1/2 cups honey (this seemed like a lot, so I cut this down to 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup cream
4 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
For the Tomato Salad:
Slice the tomatoes any way you like. Cut bottom hard area from jumbo asparagus and discard. Using a thin vegetable peeler or electric slicer peel strips of jumbo asparagus like little ribbons and plunge in cold ice water. If you cut the asparagus thin enough it will curl up after sitting in ice water for a short period of time. Slice the cucumber in the same manner.
For the Vinaigrette:
Mix all ingredients well and splash over tomatoes.
For the Sorbet:
Heat cream over medium heat in small sauce pot with goat cheese until melted, whisk. Place in bowl with remaining ingredients and whisk quickly. Refrigerate until cold and then freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Note: the chef suggests using the sorbet the same day. Also in a machine this sorbet can break if over spun. If using a machine, spin until just frozen (still like soft serve ice cream).
Remove asparagus and cucumber from ice water and toss with tomatoes and vinaigrette. While plating these vegetables, season the tomatoes with a generous pinch of sea salt and sumac. Place a scoop of the sorbet on the tomato salad. Garnish with micro herbs.