Two Summer Salads { Seasonal Bounty }

by Penny on August 9, 2011

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Cherry tomatoes fresh from my aunt Sherrie’s garden. Bright, beautiful and pure summer.

I mentioned in a previous post that I love eating nectarines and tomatoes this time of year, so I’d like to share two of my favorite recipes showcasing the fruits, both salads. The first comes from my most thumbed through, post-it-tagged and splattered cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I am certain I’ve mentioned it before, but you should buy this cookbook, Suzanne Goin is one of my culinary heroes.

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If you cannot find heirlooms, which are at their peak in August/September, choose the freshest and smallest tomatoes you can find–preferably from a home garden or farmers market. At the grocery store, pick up multi-colored cherry tomatoes and a few firm romas.

Her tomato salad highlights the heirloom tomatoes that are abundant this time of year, allowing them to shine alongside crusty toasted bread and cool, creamy burrata. It falls somewhere between panzanella and caprese. Burrata is fresh mozzarella with a creamy center. It can sometimes be hard to find, so feel free to substitute with the freshest mozzarella you can find (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can attempt to make burrata at home). If you are unable to get your hands on heirloom tomatoes, use cherry tomatoes or other smaller varieties. Skip the hothouse and large tomatoes, as they have a greater chance of having a mealy texture. I do make two modifications to the recipe–I omit the opal basil (I can never find it) and add thick slices of hothouse or Persian cucumbers. Because, everything is better with cucumbers.

This salad has its roots in the local, seasonal food movement that emerged out of Northern California with chefs like Alice Waters (who Goin worked under in her early days) and Judy Rodgers. It’s a perfect way to showcase heirlooms in the height of their season.

The second salad comes from another California chef, Tom Keller. Keller’s three most popular cookbooks pay homage to his Yountville restaurants–French Laundry, Bouchon and Ad Hoc. I’ve only been to Bouchon (and, hello, Bouchon Bakery–nom nom). I almost went to Ad Hoc once but I wasn’t feeling the menu that night (it’s fixed). French Laundry is just waaaaaay out of our price range. I do, however, own the Ad Hoc cookbook. I also owned the Bouchon and French Laundry books as well, but the former features too much (for my taste) heavy French-infused food and the latter is simply too ambitious for this home cook.

Ad Hoc has been a real pleasure, both the recipes and the layout design of the book are great. In it, you will find recipes for his famous fried chicken and lots of “extras” like various vinaigrette, jellies, mustards and infused oils. One of my favorite salads from the book features another summer favorite, nectarines; both in the vinaigrette and salad itself. It’s balanced with some peppery, slightly bitter greens and sweet almonds. I really encourage you, if it’s not in your pantry, to buy some sherry vinegar. It’s more subtle than red and balsamic vinegars. The recipe calls for Marcona almonds, but if you can’t get your hands on those, just use slivered almonds.

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Each recipe serves 4-6. The tomato salad is pretty quick to pull together, while the nectarine salad requires a bit more prep work for the vinaigrette.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Croutons and Basil

Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

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  • 1/2 large loaf bread (look for a crusty french bread)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 large garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 lbs heirloom tomatoes in assorted shapes, sizes and colors
  • 1 cup thickly sliced and quartered hothouse or Persian cucumbers (optional)
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel (or fleur de sal)
  • 4 Tbsp sliced basil
  • 1 lb burrata cheese (or other fresh mozzarella cheese)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • kosher salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Tear 1-2″ pieces of bread from the loaf (if you’d like, you can first remove crust, I like to keep it on). Toss into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Mix with your hands, allowing the oil to really soak into the bread. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown.

Smash garlic clove and add oregano. Mix in vinegars. Slowly whisk in the remaining oil, add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Mix in basil. Reserve at room temperature.

Cut heirloom tomatoes into a mixture of thick slices and wedges. Slice shallots and cucumbers.

Compose tomatoes, cucumbers and shallots on a large platter or shallow bowl. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad. Carefully layer in slices of burrata, croutons and parsley leaves. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

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Torn croutons and burrata cheese. If you cannot find burrata cheese, you can order it online, but I recommend just using the freshest mozzarella you can get your hands on.

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Fleur de sel. A pricey, but wonderful addition to your pantry. See resources list below for online purchase options.

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Making the croutons ahead of time allows you to compose the salad (with no cooking) just before serving. It’s the perfect summer meal. Make sure you bring all ingredients to cool room temperature before serving.

Resource List:

Endive and Arugula Salad with Peaches and Almonds

Adapted from the Ad Hoc cookbook

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  • 6 heads Belgian endive (white, red or both)
  • 2 Tbsp nectarine puree (recipe below)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs ripe but firm nectarines
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced chives
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted Marcona almonds (or roasted slivered almonds)

I take many liberties with Keller’s recipe for peach (in my case, nectarine) puree, choosing to skip the sieving step and allowing the puree to remain chunky. For a smoother puree, you can sieve the blended nectarines through a strainer.

Nectarine Puree

  • 2 very ripe nectarines
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Grating of fresh nutmeg

If you are able to peel the skins off the nectarines, proceed. If not, dump them into a pot of boiling water for a minute or two to soften the skins and remove. Slice off as much fruit as possible into a blender. Blend until smooth. Combine puree and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until thickened, then add cinnamon and nutmeg. The puree may be stored in the fridge for two months.

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Nectarines blended into a smooth puree. Use a blender or hand-held mixer.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the puree with the chopped parsley and sherry vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and reserve at room temperature.

Cut off the base of each endive and allow the outermost leaves to fall off. Continue slicing into the base until all the leaves are loose.

Cut nectarines into small wedges. If using nuts, roast until brown.

Toss arugula with enough vinaigrette to just coat the greens. Do the same with the endive in a separate bowl. Spread arugula onto a large platter or shallow bowl and top with endive. Layer in nectarine wedges and sprinkle with almonds and snipped chives. If desired, add a bit of salt and/or pepper.

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The nectarine puree acts as a base for the vinaigrette.

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If you like to make your own vinaigrettes, invest in some sherry vinegar.

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If you cannot find sherry vinegar in your grocery store, see the resource list below to buy online.

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 Resource List

  • Buy sherry vinegar online.
  • Buy Marcona almonds online.
  • Visit Ad Hoc for dinner. Or buy the cookbook.

Bon appetit!

All photographs by Penny.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kacie August 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Yummy. Those all look so refreshing and delicious! Thanks for sharing. I also love the “why is fleur de sel so expensive” note!

Kacie
http://acollectionofpassions.blogspot.com/

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