I recently paid a visit to Harvest restaurant in the bucolic countryside of Eastern Ontario (see Late Summer in Wine Country). Chef/owner Michael Potters bases his menus on what is in season and available, sourcing as much as possible from local purveyors. One of the salads on the menu was an heirloom tomato and Fifth Town goat cheese salad with sherry vinaigrette. It inspired me to come up with my own version. It’s similar to a caprese salad but the goat cheese and dressing give it a bit of a different flavour.
If you don’t like goat cheese (and I must admit, it’s not my personal favourite), you can use any kind of creamy mild cheese, such as a creamy sheep’s milk cheese, mild feta or even fresh mozzarella. Because this salad is so simple, it’s important to use the very best ingredients you can find so skip it if you can’t find good tomatoes. Sherry vinegar should be available at most grocery stores. This salad makes a great starter or light lunch with some crusty bread.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette
Makes 4 appetizer sized servings
- 5 or 6 medium to large mixed heirloom tomatoes
- 4 oz. mild goat cheese OR other soft cheese, such as feta, sheep cheese or fresh mozzarella
- Fresh ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
- Fresh chopped thyme leaves, to sprinkle over and garnish salad
- Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- 3 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
- 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
- Pinch of salt
- To make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until combined.
- To assemble salad: Cut tomatoes into thick slices, discarding the part where the stem was attached. Arrange tomatoes on a serving platter OR as individual servings.
- Break goat cheese up with your fingers and sprinkle over tomatoes. Spoon dressing over salad and sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper.
- Garnish with thyme leaves.