Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stacked Tomato Salad

Last week I tried out this fancy little salad from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper.  It is a great way to showcase the summer's tomato.  Although, slabs of mozzarella is not my personal favorite, I could definitely see this as a crowd pleasing recipe and perfect for a starter at a dinner party.  In fact, Lynne Rossetto Kasper mentions in her cookbook that it is the most downloaded recipe on her The Splendid Table website.  Some tips for making the recipe - make sure your tomatoes are small enough, and they are juicy yet firm, to ensure that the tomatoes do not topple over.  If you do not mind a sloppier salad, then go for larger tomatoes.  Visually, the salad should be stacked back as a whole tomato with cheese inside.

Ingredients for Ripe Tomato Stack with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella, from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper (serves 4 as a main dish, 6 to 8 as a starter):

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove. minced
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons dried currants
2 tight-packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn
2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (I used almonds.  Use pine nuts if you can afford them)

6 medium ripe tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella packed in liquid, sliced 1/2 inch thick
About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To begin, make the dressing in a small bowl.  Combine the lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion, currants, and salt to taste.  Let the mixture stand for 20 to 30 minutes.  Just before assembling the dish, stir in the basil and all but 1/4 cup of the pine nuts.

Core the tomatoes.  Cut each tomato horizontally into 1/2-inch-thick slices.  Place the bottom slice of each tomato on a serving platter.  Season them with a little salt, then top each with a slice of cheese.  Season the cheese with a teaspoon or so of the onion mixture.  Continue the layers until all the tomatoes are reassembled.

To finish the dish, sprinkle the tomatoes with the reserved pine nuts, the olive oil, and any leftover onion mixture.  Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

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