Heirloom tomato

Photo: Anna Knott

“Heirlooms have never been crossbred,” says Chris Pandel (Bristol, Balena) about the tomatoes in his easy-peasy summer salad. “That’s why they come in so many unusual shapes, beautiful colors, and have exceptional flavor.” Any ripe heirloom will do, but Pandel prefers large varieties—like Brandywines—because they tend to be extremely juicy. The heirloom season peaks in late summer, but a few growers, such as Tomato Mountain (Brooklyn, Wisconsin), use hoop houses (above-ground tunnels) and are able to produce them by mid-July, when they start to show up at farmers’ markets and high-end grocery stores. “The anticipation of the tomato is almost as good as the dish,” says Pandel.

Chris Pandel’s Heirloom Tomato Salad on Parmesan Crisps

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Special supply: Parchment paper

1¼ cups Parmesan, grated
3 ripe heirloom tomatoes
¼ lb. baby arugula
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3–4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a medium-size baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Shape 1 cup of the grated Parmesan into a ⅛-inch-thick square on the lined baking pan.

3. Bake the cheese for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Slide the parchment paper off the pan and allow to cool before handling (5 minutes). Gently break the baked cheese into four crisps and arrange each one on a salad plate.

4. Cut 2 tomatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a mixing bowl with arugula.

5. Salt and pepper to taste.

6. Split the third tomato in half and squeeze (like a lemon) over the salad. Discard the squeezed tomato. Pour the olive oil over the salad and toss.

7. Divvy up the salad onto the four crisps, drizzle with balsamic, and garnish with remaining Parmesan.