This dish really is a celebration of the tomato. It really brings to light the complexity of the fruit as well as its flavor. This dish will always be best in the height of the summer when tomatoes are at their freshest, sweetest and most vibrant in color.
Musical Pairing: Kvelertak – Self Titled. I know, they’re from Norway and this is a very Italian styled salad, but to be honest Flesh God Apocalypse doesn’t really fit and I’d rather not post anything than pair a dish with Lacuna Coil (and that’s the extent of my knowledge of Italian metal). Here’s why these Norwegian fellas work so well with this dish: there’s a lot going on, there’s a mix of techniques and styles, and both the dish and the album run the risk of falling victim to over complication, but every thing works amazingly well together. The end result is a take on a classic that is complex, intense and somehow refreshing at the same time.
1 LB of fresh Tomatoes
1 Clove Garlic
5 Leaves Basil
1 TSP Kosher Salt
1 TBL Red wine Vinegar
3 TBL Olive Oil
2 1/4″ Slices Fresh Mozzarella
2 Cups Baby Arugula
4 Paper Thin Slices of Red Onion
Finely dice the tomato by hand, you want the pieces to be between 1/8″ and 1/16″ cubes. Dive the garlic in the same way. Roll the leaves of basil length wise and cut into 1/6″ ribbons. Put all of these ingredients into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Add the salt and stir. Let sit like this for at least 20 minutes (or up to an hour) stirring occasionally. We’re draining the tomato pieces of some of their moisture, this is going to help alter the texture of the tomato and it will yield what’s referred to as tomato water – do not discard that – we need it!
Put the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and reserve. Stir the tomato water, as it will separate some. Take 3TBL of that tomato water, whisk together with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. This is our tomato vinaigrette. In a bowl, mix together the arugula and onion. Then add half the tomato vinaigrette and mix together. Taste it and see if you think it needs more. I don’t want you to just dump it all in there because some people like more or less dressing and I think its best if you determine how much on your own. Adjust your dressing to fit your taste.
To plate, take a slice of the fresh mozz and cut it with a 3″ ring mold. Leave the mozzarella in the ring mold and spoon half the tomato tartare on top and level off with a spoon or your fingers. Then take the ring mold, using your fingers to make sure the mozz doesn’t fall out, and flip it upside down over the plate so that the tomato tartare is on the bottom. Free the ring mold and you will have something like picture above without the salad on top. If you don’t have a ring mold, just put half the tomato tartare down on each plate and smooth out to about the size of your mozzarella slices and place the mozzarella on top.
Divide the arugula in half and pile on top of each plate. Garnish with shaved parm and some fresh black pepper (I garnished mine with some basil oil as well, but that was more for look). Serve and eat!
You will have a lot of tomato water left over. I recommend using it to make more of the tomato vinaigrette for use on a salad the next day or later in the week, don’t waste it, its awesome.