Tomato salad with basil and homemade ricotta
We are lucky in the Okanagan to have winery restaurant chefs that pride themselves on creating dishes using local produce that are beautiful to look at and packed with flavour. One of my favourite is the Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill winery. Not only the Tuscan architecture, the bell tower, the view and the beautiful wines, but the food at their Terrace restaurant is always outstanding.
My gal friends were visiting from Calgary last week and of course I booked a dinner for 4 at the Terrace as part of the Okanagan experience I prepared for them. This restaurant and its beautiful setting represents some of the best of what the Okanagan has to offer.
By chance we were seated at the owner Anthony von Mendl favourite table at the far end of the terrace, where you get a broad view of the property and can keep an eye on the coming and going at the winery.
As I expected, we enjoyed a beautiful dinner as the bell on the tower rang much like it does in any Tuscan town and the sun slowly set in spectacular reds and pinks, painting the sky over the Okanagan lake.
My first course was an heirloom tomato salad with fresh ricotta cheese drizzled with Tuscan olive oil, purple shiso and charcoal sourdough. It was a perfectly portioned first course with sweet, salty and tangy flavours, and creamy and crispy texture from the cheese and bread.
I thought I’d create a version for dinner tonight but made the portion more substantial and used a few varieties of tomatoes that I had on hand. I didn’t have shiso so replaced with red and green basil and wasn’t sure about the charcoal sourdough bread crisp so just made plain bread crisp from a french baguette. I did make the fresh ricotta especially for this salad and it was creamy and velvety, perfect with the sweet and tangy tomatoes.
It was a beautiful salad and I thought blog worthy so here it is.
2-3 cups variety of heirloom tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Red and green basil leaves
Homemade ricotta (see below)
Very thinly sliced french baguette
Slice the tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size and shape, and place in a bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Shred the larger basil leaves and add to the tomatoes, keeping a few of the smaller leaves for garnish.
To plate spoon the tomatoes on one half of a shallow salad bowl and spoon the ricotta next to it.
Arrange the smaller basil leaves here and there for garnish.
Set the crisp bread into the ricotta so it stand up.
Drizzle extra olive oil on top of the ricotta and tomatoes.
Make the ricotta:
4 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoon wine vinegar
Bring the milk, cream and salt to a boil, remove from heat and add the vinegar. Stir now and then for 3-4 minutes until the curds form.
Pour the cheese mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a bowl and allow to drain for about 15 minutes or so stirring now and then.
Discard the liquid that collects in the bowl and use some of the cheese in the salad, refrigerating the rest.
Very thin slices of a french baguette or another good bread.
Brush baguette slices with olive oil and set on a foil lined baking dish.
Bake at 400F until the slices are crisp and beginning to turn golden.
Use in the salad or serve alongside.