Lucky as I am to live in San Diego with my markets brimming with fresh, local veggies and fruits nearly year round, it is the summer months that bring me into produce heaven. Corn, still warm from the fields, aromatic peaches soft to the touch and a new one for me - heirloom tomatoes lining the tables in an amazing array of colors.
It wasn't until just a few years ago that I had my first taste of heirloom tomato at my local Carlsbad Farmer's Market, but for 40 years prior I had avoided what I thought was the mushy, mealy, tin-like taste of fresh tomatoes. Since my first taste, I now know what I was missing.
Years ago, while purchasing corn from my favorite local vendor he thrust a plate of juicy green and red tomato slices my direction to try. Having no way to politely decline without offending him, I searched out the tiniest piece on the plate and prepared myself to smile as I just got it down. What a surprise I was in for! The sweet, not mealy or mushy at all, piece of tomato had my eyes shining brightly and my hand reaching for a second, and even larger slice!
Since that first taste I have embraced Heirloom Tomatoes, and even some of the plain old fashioned red, perfectly round kind as well. I'll admit to still being picky and avoiding what appear to be "winter", or out of season tomatoes, but in summer, I'm getting my fill.
With a basket full of my favorite greenish/reddish variety which is flooding the market these days, my daily email from Fine Cooking featured these Heirloom Tomato Napoleons (basically a stack) with Parmesan Crisps. Making the crisps was a piece of cake by simply spreading Parmesan Cheese onto a silicone liner and baking. 13 minutes later the house was smelling divine and I had a beautiful sheet of golden cheese that crisped as it cooled.
Slicing into my gorgeous heirloom globes I nestled them atop a crisp red leaf lettuce which I had also picked up at my last market visit and began layering the slices with broken pieces of the crisped Parmesan. Topping the plate with a quickly whisked together balsamic vinaigrette and torn basil from the garden I had a treat fit for summer.
Heirloom Tomato Napoleons (Stacks) with Parmesan Crisps
adapted from Fine Cooking - makes 2 servings
Printer Friendly Recipe
1 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
Greens of your choice (fresh red lettuce leaves, spinach, arugula, etc)
2 large heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh basil
2 slices sweet onion, left in small rings
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs Grape Seed Oil
1/8 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375º. Grate the Parmesan Cheese as finely as you can and spread evenly over a silicone mat or parchment paper placed on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is golden. Begin checking cheese at about 10 minutes, but cheese may need to bake for up to an additional 5 minutes to become golden and browned. Remove from oven and cool.
Assemble the salad. Place torn greens onto serving plates. Slice tomatoes into thick slices and stack, layering with broken pieces of the cooled Parmesan Crisps, over the greens. Sprinkle desired amount of fresh basil over the stack and greens along with a few onion pieces.
Whisk together the balsamic, oil and mustard and drizzle over the tomatoes and greens. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
|Parmesan Crisps made with finely grated cheese|