Heirloom tomato salad recipe

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  • Yield: 4 Servings


For the Mousse
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 2 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 sprig medium-size fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
For the Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) simple syrup
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
For the Basil Gel
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, blanched (about ½ cup)
  • Pinch of xanthan gum
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper
How to Make It
    To Prepare the Mousse
  1. Set aside about 2 tablespoons of the water in a ramekin, sprinkle the gelatin over it, and let it stand for several minutes.
  2. Combine the remaining water, mozzarella, mascarpone, basil, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheese mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for about 5 minutes, or as needed for the mozzarella to completely melt into the liquid.
  4. Whisk in the gelatin, season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer 2–3 more minutes, until the gelatin has dissolved into the mousse. Puree the mousse, in batches if your blender is small.
  5. Strain the mousse through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator until softly set, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To Prepare the Vinaigrette
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon and orange juices, vinegar, mustard, syrup, and olive oil. Bring the mixture to a quick boil, and whisk in the agar agar. Boil for about 2 more minutes, until the agar agar has dissolved.
  8. Strain the vinaigrette through a fine-mesh sieve into a small shallow pan. Stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Transfer the vinaigrette to the freezer. After 20 minutes, and again after 40 minutes, remove the vinaigrette mixture from the freezer briefly and scrape it up from the bottom of the pan with a fork, fluffing up the ice crystals. After about 1 hour, it should be solid enough, but it can remain in the freezer for up to 7 additional hours.
  10. To Prepare the Basil Gel
  11. Puree the ingredients together in a blender. Chill covered in the refrigerator until needed.
  12. To Prepare the Tomato Salad
  13. With a thin paring knife, cut a tiny x in the bottom of each tomato.
  14. Bring a pot with about 3 inches of water to a boil. Dunk the tomatoes in the water, in batches if necessary, for about 20 seconds, then remove them with a spider and drain them.
  15. Starting at the cuts, pull the skin away in pieces and discard it.
  16. Gently combine the tomatoes in a bowl with the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, herbs, coriander, and sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
  17. Putting it all together
  18. Arrange 4 tomatoes down the center of each of 4 plates. I slice the bottom off of 1 or 2 per plate to stand them up, then let the others lean against them. Spoon a mound of mousse to one side, then scrape up several small spoonfuls of frozen vinaigrette to top the tomatoes. Add dots or dribbles of basil gel to each plate, tuck in a couple of crackers, then garnish with basil and other leaves. Dot with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of additional salt, and serve.

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