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Dinner Date

02/28/2013 08:35AM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print




Tomato Salad with Smoky Melon and Spicy Salami

Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim

(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012, $40)

  • 6 oz. Buffalo Mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. sweet herb mix (equal parts fresh celery leaves, parsley leaves, tarragon and thyme, stems removed, all minced together)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 ripe heirloom beefsteak tomatoes
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. salami calabrese, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cantaloupe, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. Noble XO sherry vinegar
  • Fried croutons (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves or micro celery

Cut the Mozzarella into bite-size pieces. In a small bowl, combine the sweet herb mix with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the Mozzarella and toss to coat. Let the Mozzarella mixture marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can make this part ahead and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring the mixture back to room temperature before using.

Core the tomatoes, cut them into wedges, and set in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let rest until they start releasing their juices, about 10 minutes.

Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Let the oil get very hot. Test the heat of the oil by dropping one slice of the salami; it should immediately sizzle and crisp. Drop the remaining salami into the hot oil 1 piece at a time and, using tongs, quickly transfer the pieces to the paper towels.

Set the cantaloupe in a large bowl and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Drain the Mozzarella and discard the oil. Add the Mozzarella to the cantaloupe along with the tomatoes and their juice with the salami. Stir gently to combine. Divide the salad among serving plates and drizzle with the vinegar. Garnish with the croutons and celery leaves.

Fried Croutons

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 slices day-old rustic Italian or sourdough bread (1/2-inch thick)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to a 1/4-inch depth in the pan and heat the oil to 325 degrees. The relatively low frying temperature allows the croutons to soak up a little oil, which adds flavor and keeps the croutons from being too crunchy all the way through. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Trim and discard the crusts from the bread. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the cubes to the pan and stir for 1 minute to coat with the oil. Cook undisturbed until the croutons turn a light golden brown, about 2 more minutes. The croutons will continue cooking a little after you remove them from the pan, so keep that in mind; you don’t want them to be too crunchy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the croutons to the paper towels and immediately sprinkle with the salt. These croutons should be made just before using because their high oil content gives them a short shelf life of only 2 hours or so.

 

2011 ANDIS SEMILLON

Things are certainly going well for Andis Winery, one of Amador County’s newest wineries. In addition to producing some amazing wines, such as this 2011 Semillon and other varietals (Zinfandel, Meritage and Grenache, to name a few), the winery also offers a lovely tasting room and multiple picnic areas where you can relax while enjoying wine and food, while soaking in some of the best views in Amador County. What’s more, Andis’ fabulous winemaker, Mark McKenna, has been involved with winemaking in the foothills for the last 10 years.
2011 Andis Semillon (retails for approximately $18 a bottle) is not your typical wine drank by the masses, such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This special wine (it recently received 92 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine) opens with floral and pear aromatics and the gentle acidity and round silky structure is rich on the mid palate, lingering in the finish. Flavors of melon, white peach and fig create a unique and engaging experience. It will nicely complement the flavors and spice of this month’s salad with smoky melon and spicy salami.•

Richard Righton
Owner, Bidwell Street Bistro in Folsom


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