Don’t be thrown off by the fancy plating or the hard-to-find ingredients. This week’s recipe is a simple summer salad at heart. Patina head chef Tony Esnault loves to spotlight seasonal produce. (This weekend, he’s hosting a Hollywood Farmers’ Market fundraiser tasting, see below.) Sweet ruby plums and heirloom tomatoes are drizzled with olive oil and frozen verjus, a sour grape juice (acidic white wines can be substituted in a pinch). Finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, this refreshing dish will temper the summer heat and, if you so desire, channel your inner food artist.
6 heirloom tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber
1 lb cherry tomatoes
Handful of petite greens for garnish
1 bunch basil
1 bunch Italian parsley
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Fleur de Sal
1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced red onions
1 oz champagne vinegar
3 pinch sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup water
3 cup White Verjus (Sauvigon Blanc or Vinho Verde can be substituted)
1 cup corn syrup
To make the granité:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, use a whisk to mix together the Verjus and corn syrup. Once everything is mixed, place in a flat container and place in the freezer.
For the salad:
Make an incision on the cherry and heirloom tomatoes and blanch in boiling water for 10 seconds and 30 seconds, respectively, shock in ice. Remove the skin and set aside. Peel the cucumber and make 12 slices (1/16th inch thickness) without the seeds.
Remove the stem from the cherry tomatoes. Wash and pick the parsley and basil leaves. In heavily salted boiling water, blanch the parsley for 3 minutes and the basil for 2 minutes, drain, and transfer to mixing bowl with 3 ice cubes then blend until smooth. Season to taste.
Trim the top and bottom part of the heirloom tomato. Using a large cookie cutter, punch the heirloom tomato to size and set aside. Reserve the trimming for the tomato syrup.
Place the tomato trimming in the blender cup and blend until smooth. In a heavy bottom pot, place the tomato puree and bring to boil and strain through fine strainer then put the sauce back in the pot and reduce at low heat to syrup consistency. Season to taste.
For the pickled liquid, bring all ingredients to a boil, add the sliced red onions. Bring back to a boil and set aside.
Wash and cut the plum and Pluot in 12 sections each. Dress the segment with golden balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, season and set aside.
Plate the tomato, cucumber, stone fruits and pickled onion in harmony on a plate. Dress and sprinkle the greens. To finish the plate add a couple of drops of tomato syrup and basil coulis. Put a little fleur de sel on the fruits and tomato to finish. For the granité, use a fork and scrape off the frozen liquid. Use 2 ounces per portion.