Allez Cuisine! Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Tower Recipe
Yes, I know some of my friends think I’m a little extreme in my devotion to the joys of local farmer’s markets. People stopping by my office on a cold and blustery February morning, may find me staring longingly at the brightly colored pictures of fruits and vegetables on a postcard advertising the Omaha Farmer’s Market. Many friends will tell me its way too much trouble, “why get up early on a Saturday morning, just go to your local Biggie Mart and save yourself the extra z’s , it’s all the same right” ?My answer, no not even in the same ballpark! Is playing in little league the same as playing in the College World Series? They are both played in Nebraska with basically the same equipment, but the experience is light years apart.
At this point I must put a disclaimer in the article. Once you experience the incredible taste differences of eating something picked mere hours before consumption, you will be forever ruined. There’s no going back to the Biggie Mart’s idea of fresh produce; something picked halfway around the world, then stored in a warehouse a few weeks or months and then shipped across country where it can sit on the shelf a few more weeks before you take the “fresh” produce home.
To illustrate; several years ago I was at a gathering at a friend’s home when he asked if I wanted to take home some tomatoes his neighbor had given him, since he really didn’t really like them very much. After staring at him in utter disbelief a loud “WHAAT” escaped my lips. “You don’t like homegrown tomatoes?” He said “I guess they’re ok , but is there really any difference between these and what I get at the store, plus we’re not really planning on making BLT’s or hamburgers anytime soon”. At this point I began to extol all the wonders, virtues and joys of consuming an honest to goodness homegrown tomato. Knife in hand I soon had a plate of 1/2” slices adorned with only salt and fresh cracked black pepper. He skeptically cut into one, lifted fork to mouth, slowly chewed, contemplated and soon the kitchen was filled with exclamations of “Oh my gosh! WOW! This is incredible!” I sagely nodded my head knowing a new convert had seen the light and would soon be making pilgrimages of his own to the backs of rusty pickups and tables set up in parking lots. Soon in fact he was telling me stories of his great finds, coming home to his family with grocery sacks filled with homegrown tomatoes that he then turned into amazing salsas, salads, sandwiches and more.
Tomatoes are just one of the wonderful things awaiting you at the local farmer’s market. Don’t even get me started on sweet corn! (The longer you wait to eat it the more the sugar content turns to starch). Anyway I hope this will encourage you visit one of the many local farmer’s market here in the Omaha metroplex area. My favorite is The Old Market farmer’s market every Saturday at 11th and Jackson from 8am – 12:30 pm.
So, how about it? This Saturday pull yourself out of bed and pickup some tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, onions, zucchini, several handfuls of fresh herbs …. head on home and go on line to your favorite food web site and type in the main ingredients you have, hit search and decide which recipe sounds best. Or better yet have your own “Iron Chef” moment and create your own succulent variation on today’s secret ingredients. In the words of the immortal kitchen stadium master, “Allez Cuisine!”
Heirloom Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Tower
4 medium sized heirloom or homegrown tomatoes sliced into “thick slices
4 fresh mozzarella balls (preferably packed in water) sliced into “thick slices
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion diced fine
2 cloves garlic diced fine
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley chopped fine
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp each kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper ( plus extra for seasoning tomatoes).
Whisk last eight ingredients in a bowl until mixed well, then slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking to incorporate.
To serve: season tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper. Layer starting with a tomato slice, drizzle with a dash of the prepared vinaigrette, then add a slice of mozzarella and repeat for two or three layers.
Professional head shaver, reckless adventurer, erstwhile semi-pro skydiver*(*amateur lander), fanatical tomato lover, All around awesome cook extraordinaire.
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