Califonia Bountiful
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Heirloom tomatoes with basil, apple wood bacon and blue cheese

Heirloom tomatoes with basil, apple wood bacon and blue cheese

Ingredients

6 ea. A variety of heirloom tomatoes (1 large tomato per person, plus some little tomatoes like Teardrops or Sweet 100s. Try to get as many colors and shapes as possible.)
1/2 C blue cheese
1/3 C apple wood bacon lardons (crisp diced bacon)
1/3 C torn basil
2 TB minced chives
1/2 C sautéed, diced onions
2 TB sea salt
2 tsp. black pepper
6 ea. blue cheese croutons (see below)
1/3 C cider vinaigrette (see below)

Cider Vinaigrette:
2/3 C cider vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/4 C minced shallots
2 TB minced garlic
2 TB cracked black pepper
2 TB chopped herbs (thyme, parsley, chervil in equal portions)
2 C California olive oil
1 TB kosher salt
1 TB mustard

Place Mustard and cider vinegar in a blender and turn blender on low. Slowly drizzle oil into the vinegar mixture. (Note: If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little water to adjust the consistency.) Add all oil.

Remove mixture and place in a mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients, whisking them together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place into a bottle. Vinaigrette can be stored refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Blue Cheese Croutons:
6 ea. rounds of bread cut from a good sourdough
2 TB whole butter
2 TB blue cheese

Cut bread into rounds.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown.
Melt butter and blue cheese together, either in a saucepan or in the microwave.
Brush the toasted rounds of bread with the blue cheese butter, evenly coating.
Toast again for another 3-4 minutes at 350 degrees.
Allow croutons to cool.


Directions

Tomato Salad
Sauté onions until they are translucent and set to the side.

To make Bacon Lardons, dice apple wood smoked bacon into quarter-inch dice. Place in a skillet and cook over medium heat until bacon is crisp.

Thickly slice tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt, basil, vinaigrette, onions and bacon evenly. The tomatoes may resemble little pizzas.

Stack tomatoes 3 to 4 layers high and place tomato stack on the blue cheese croutons in the middle of individual serving plates.

Take smaller tomatoes, such as Teardrops, Sweet 100s, Grape or cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Season with lots of basil, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Drizzle tomatoes with a little vinaigrette and serve on the same plate around the larger tomatoes.

I love this salad as long as heirloom tomatoes are available; some years they last into late November. My personal wine pairing for this salad is a pinot grigio or a viogner.