Compressed Watermelon and Tomato Salad
This is a simple and beautiful summer salad. The sweetened tomatoes pair wonderfully with the juicy watermelon. Goat cheese adds a surprising texture and tang, while saba – an alternative to balsamic vinegar made of reduced grape must – balances all the components. Affordable vacuum sealers and bags can be found at Target and other retail stores.
Serves| 6 |
- ½ cup fresh basil, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 small seedless watermelon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt, to taste
- 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- saba, for garnish
| Preparation | Chop ¼ cup basil, place in a small saucepan with water and sugar, and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Strain syrup and set aside to cool, then refrigerate until cold.
Cut tomatoes into ¼-inch slices. Once syrup is chilled, place sliced tomatoes in a vacuum bag and pour in enough syrup to just cover the tomatoes. There may be leftover syrup.
Seal tomatoes according to manufacturer’s directions, and place in freezer for at least 3 hours. For stronger flavor, add whole basil leaves to the bag before sealing.
Cut watermelon into 1-inch-by-1-inch strips, remove rind and place in vacuum bags. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions, and place in freezer for at least 3 hours.
Remove tomato and watermelon from bags and thaw at room temperature. Once thawed, carefully dice watermelon and toss with olive oil and salt. Cut remaining ¼ cup basil into a chiffonade and set aside.
| To Serve | On 6 separate plates, arrange tomato slices and top with basil and diced watermelon. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and drizzle saba sparingly on the plate. Serve immediately.
Chef Cassandra Vires received her culinary training in Houston, Texas, and has a knack for reimagining classic dishes. Her new restaurant, Home Wine Kitchen, opens this month in Maplewood.