While tomato season is almost over, there is still plenty of time to enjoy them.
Today’s recipe for a sliced tomato salad that is paired with a Caesar-like vinaigrette is just the ticket. You can use any variety of tomato in this salad, but if you can get your hands on some heirlooms, albeit sometimes pricey, they have great flavor.
The salad comes together by layering tomato slices, seasoning each layer, and topping with baby arugula and a drizzle of a vinaigrette. When slicing tomatoes, I always use a serrated knife because I get the best slice.
When it comes to vinaigrette, I like to make my own. Sure, there’s a lot of very good commercial ones that aren’t loaded with fat and sugar. But sometimes it’s just as easy to whip up your own with ingredients you have. Making your own means you can also adjust the ingredients to your own taste. Besides using a good olive oil, I always use some Dijon mustard in my basic vinaigrette because it helps emulsify the vinaigrette. When you make your own vinaigrette, keep in mind it should be used within 3 days.
Here are a few tips for making a good vinaigrette:
Use three parts oil to one part vinegar. This mean to make 1 cup vinaigrette you will need 3/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup vinegar or other acidic ingredient like citrus juices.
Good quality fruity or mild olive oils work best. You can also use grapeseed and canola oil.
Use almost any vinegar, but keep in mind balsamic (the dark version) will have a stronger flavor than, say, apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. You can also use fresh lemon or lime juice or experiment with other vinegars like sherry or rice.
Ingredients should be at room temperature so the vinaigrette emulsifies easily.
Whether you are using a food processor or whisking by hand, add the oil slowly in a steady stream. It will slowly come together.
If you’ve used Dijon in the vinaigrette and it breaks or looks curdled, try whisking in a small ice cube to bring it back together.
Season to taste, adding salt and pepper as desired, and fresh or dried herbs.
Another highlight of this dish is the bacon Parmesan crisps. We all know bacon and tomatoes go together, but the addition of Parmesan takes it to another level. These crisps are similar to what you might see as “frico” or cheese crisps. The difference is the addition of bacon. These are made in the oven and the only trick to them is not overcooking them, so watch them carefully.
Tomato Caesar Salad with Bacon-Parmesan Crisps
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
2 slices cooked, crisp, thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5 medium or large heirloom tomatoes or favorite tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Baby arugula or watercress, for topping
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Finely chop the cooked bacon.
In a small bowl, mix together the bacon, 1/2 cup Parmesan and flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the bacon-cheese mixture into 4 mounds on baking sheet and flatten them into 31/2-inch rounds. Bake until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 7-8 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack using a thin spatula and let cool completely.
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and the remaining 3 tablespoons of cheese.
Arrange the tomatoes on a platter, sprinkling each layer with salt, pepper and some of the vinaigrette. Scatter the watercress on top and drizzle with olive oil. Break the crisps into bite-size pieces and add to the salad.
Adapted from Food Network magazine, September 2012 issue. Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.
130 calories (58 percent from fat), 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 8 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 532 mg sodium, 12 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.