For this recipe, we used red vine-ripe globes (Beefsteak), heirloom (Brandywine), tomatillos, and yellow tomatoes.
2½ lbs ripe tomatoes, assorted
Coarse sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste (recommend blend of white, green, pink peppercorns)
¼ cup minced celery root
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
High-quality olive oil
Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette (See recipe below)
¼ cup gently packed chervil
3 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (recommended for heartier tomato varieties)
4 ounces ricotta salata cheese, coarsely grated or shredded (see Chef’s Note)
Capers (packaged in brine), drained
[Chef’s Note: For cheeses, you can also use mozzarella, parmesan, aged goat or cheddar cheeses. When choosing an olive oil, try to find something with herbal undertones. We used one from Sonoma County.]
Examine each tomato. Remove any blemishes with a sharp paring knife. Clean and wipe dry. Slice, quarter or halve the tomatoes depending on their size and shape, and the textural element your palate desires from the fruit. Combine the tomatoes in a large bowl by gently tossing with your hands.
In the center of a chilled plate, place a small nest of microgreens. Rest one quarter of the tomatoes into each microgreen nest, and season with sea salt and a fresh ground pepper blend. Sprinkle one quarter of the minced celery root and the minced chives on each plate. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the salad. Drizzle the vinaigrette around the perimeter of the salad. Garnish each with a scattering of herbs, the cheese, and a few capers.
Optional caper presentation:
Crisp the capers by sautéing them in a small skillet with 1 tablespoon butter and ½ tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Sauté on medium high heat until the capers begin to crisp.
Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette
Makes about 1¼ cups
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (can substitute white wine or organic cider vinegars)
Scant 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ garlic bulb, cloves mashed, sprinkled with coarse salt, ground until paste-like
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
In a blender, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and garlic. Add the hot water. With the machine running, slowly add the oil until the dressing is smooth and thick, tasting after ½ cup has been added. Add the remaining ½ cup slowly, tasting along the way until the flavors come into balance. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Recipe and photo by Donna Marie Zotter