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Heirloom Tomato Salad with Arugula, Burrata, and Eggplant Croutons

Photo: Thomas J. Story

Total time 1 hr, 30 mins
Yield

Serves 6 to 8

For this salad, chef Alex Seidel of Denver restaurants Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision uses a mix of tomato varieties--whichever are ripest at the moment in his greenhouse. The eggplant "croutons" are small cubes, breaded in seasoned panko and briskly fried. His Fruition Farms Dairy & Creamery also produces the burrata cheese, which is fresh mozzarella filled with ricotta and cream.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 small Japanese eggplant (about 2 oz.)
  • About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • 6 heirloom tomatoes (about 3 lbs.), in a mix of colors
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 8 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella
  • 4 loosely packed cups arugula
  • 12 basil leaves (optional)

Nutrition Information

  • calories 241
  • caloriesfromfat 64 %
  • protein 8 g
  • fat 17 g
  • satfat 4.8 g
  • carbohydrate 11 g
  • fiber 2.4 g
  • sodium 294 mg
  • cholesterol 55 mg

How to Make It

  1. Dice eggplant into 1/2-in. cubes and put in a colander. Toss with 1/2 tsp. salt and let drain 1 hour.

    Peeling and Mincing Shallots
  2. Meanwhile, make seasoned bread crumbs: Heat panko in a medium (not nonstick) pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 5 minutes; stir in thyme and a couple of pinches each salt and black pepper. Let cool.

  3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice and cold water. Using a sharp paring knife, core tomatoes by cutting a cone around stems. Score bottom of each tomato with a small X.

  4. Blanch tomatoes 20 seconds, immersing two at a time. With a slotted spoon, transfer to ice water. When cool, lift tomatoes to a plate and peel them. Slice tomatoes thickly and arrange over two-thirds of a platter.

  5. Make vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine shallot, red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. white pepper. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil.

  6. Pour oil for frying into a small pot to a depth of 1 1/2 in. Insert a deep-fry thermometer and heat over medium-high heat until oil registers 325°.

  7. While oil is heating, rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Set a metal cooling rack in a rimmed baking pan and put next to stove.

  8. Put flour in a shallow bowl, egg in another, and seasoned panko in a third. Coat eggplant cubes in flour. Using a slotted spoon, lift out cubes while shaking off excess flour; drop cubes into egg. Using a second slotted spoon, lift out cubes and drop into bread crumbs; toss to coat. Now use the first (dry) spoon to transfer eggplant to hot oil.

  9. Fry eggplant in two batches if necessary until crisp and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes per batch, and transfer with the dry slotted spoon to drain on rack in pan. Season croutons with salt.

  10. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 to 4 tbsp. vinaigrette. Slice cheese thickly and arrange over tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  11. In a medium bowl, toss arugula with 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. vinaigrette. Arrange arugula on platter next to tomatoes. Scatter with warm eggplant croutons and torn basil leaves, if using.