Not too long ago, I shared my desire to dine out in a gourmet restaurant while wearing my pajamas. I’ve discovered the next best thing. In our hometown, right on “main” street, there is a lovely little Bistro hidden inside a 100-year-old bungalow. Seating for 30 – not 30 tables, but a total seating capacity for 30 people at a time. That’s it. The place has been there for nearly 10 years, is a 5-star rated restaurant, and is listed as one of the top 100 restaurants in the country. Yeah, surprise! The decor is elegant, yet the patrons arrive in khaki shorts and saddles. The staff is well-trained, slipping in and out and around your table without notice, replacing flatware as it is used, clearing plates and pouring yet another glass of wine in a fresh glass. We began our adventure with Pan-Seared Foie Gras – so tender, so wonderful so perfect. The Filet Mignons were so tender, you could almost eat them with a fork. The reduction sauce was to-die-for delicious. Deserts were a work of art that you could eat. Oh my. And the salad – so cool, so refreshing!
Naturally, I had to try to recreate as much of this awesome experience as possible. The salad is my own interpretation of the salad I had at the Boulevard Bistro. While this salad is close, it’s still a work in progress. Baby steps. That’s how I’ve learned – in baby steps.
Throughout the summer I’d like to prefect this basic Watermelon Salad. Hope you come along for the journey . . .
Compressed Watermelon and Tomato Salad
1 small seedless watermelon
16 small tomatoes, assorted colors
3 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
4 Basil Leaves, cut into narrow strips
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
Sea Salt to taste
Cut one end off the watermelon. (You want to begin working with a watermelon that has a flat; even end). Discard end slice or nibble on it while you work.
Cut round disk from remaining watermelon about 1 inch thick. Remove rind. Using a small shot glass, cut 8 circles from watermelon.
Place circles into a vacuum seal bag. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions.
Cut second round disk from watermelon. Again, cut 8 small circles from watermelon disk and seal in a vacuum seal bag.
Place vacuum sealed bags into the freezer for at least 3 hours. (Note: if bag is not gently compressing watermelon, place a pie tin on top of bag. Place a bag of frozen vegetables on pie tin to compress watermelon).
Once compressed; remove from freezer and let thaw. Keep chilled in refrigerator. You want the melon crisp-cold but not frozen.
When ready to serve, slice small tomatoes (grape size) in half. Stack fresh basil and roll tightly, creating a cigar-shape. Cut basil width-wise to shred into very narrow strips.
Place four watermelon circles on the center of four well-chilled salad plates.
Place tomato halves around watermelon in a pretty arrangement.
Sprinkle each plate with a little goat cheese. Scatter basil around plate..
Drizzle each salad with a little balsamic vinegar. Season with fresh pepper and a pinch of salt. Serve and enjoy.