Few things are as satisfying in the New Orleans summer as sinking your teeth into a perfectly ripe Creole tomato. Of course they’re good cooked as well, but it’s hard to outshine the bright flavor and texture of the fresh fruit. Here, two acclaimed New Orleans chefs share one of their favorite recipes for fresh Creole tomatoes. (It was hard for them to choose which one.)
“Another flavor combination I love is watermelon and tomato together,” Chef Chris DeBarr, who recently moved from Bywater Bakery to work at Revel Café & Bar in Mid-City, says. “Both of them love salt and a little chili heat—you can do a brochette on the grill with big chunks of watermelon and tomato, and grill it lightly. That’s fantastic!”
Louisiana Heirloom Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad
Chef Kristen Essig, Coquette
2800 Magazine St.
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh burrata cheese, drained
1⁄4 pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 peaches, split in half, pit removed
Flake salt to taste
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons Louisiana honey
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, sambal, honey and shallot. Allow to macerate for 5-10 minutes, letting shallot soften. Whisk oils into vinegar to create a stable emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Next, take two of your peach halves and cut them in half again. Douse with vinaigrette and grill over medium-high heat (or broil) with the cut side towards the fire, 1-2 minutes. Season with flake salt, and set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine 2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette with tomatoes and some flake salt. Take your remaining peach and cut into thin wedges. Add these to tomatoes and toss to combine.
Once your grilled peaches have cooled, remove skins and lightly mash flesh with a fork. Place mash in the bottom of a shallow serving bowl. Carefully cut burrata in half and place each half, cut side up, on top of mash. Top with salad. Tear basil to release fragrance and garnish. Finish with a bit more flake salt.
Shrimp “BLT” Salad
Chef Chris DeBarr, Revel Café & Bar
133 N. Carrollton Ave.
This is a relatively simple twist on the cherished idea of the “BLT.” The herbaceous green aïoli can be used in a variety of different ways, on sandwiches and as a dip.
6 Creole tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 pound Herbsaint shrimp (see recipe)
Arugula aïoli (see recipe)
6 strips Nueske’s applewood bacon (cooked) or lardons, if you prefer
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
The only question here is whether you prefer the sharp bite of raw garlic or the mellow caramelized flavors of roasted garlic in this easy mayonnaise.
5 egg yolks, room temperature
6-8 cloves roasted garlic, or 4 cloves raw garlic
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup arugula, packed
Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 cups)
Place all ingredients except for oil in a food processor with the blade attached, and run until smooth. Start adding oil (with processor running) in a thin, slow drizzle. It should take 1-2 minutes before you’re looking at fluffy, creamy mayo that’s not too stiff. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use what you think is good for the salad and save the rest.
A good boiling liquid takes longer to achieve than it does to boil the seafood. Give the ingredients time to wilt and surrender their flavors.
1 pound medium-large Gulf shrimp (peel, but save heads and shells for boil)
1 onion, sliced
1 head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Panch Phoron five-spice blend
6 cups water
1 lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Fresh fennel fronds (or 1 tablespoon dried fennel seeds)
Optional: fresh ginger, lemongrass, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme
1/3 cup Herbsaint
Peel shrimp and set aside. Fry onion and garlic in oil in a large pot. Add five-spice blend, and fry for a few more seconds. Add water, lemon, shrimp heads and shells, pepper, salt, fennel and other optional seasonings. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, then strain off solids.
Boil shrimp in prepared liquid for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, add a good amount of ice to a metal bowl (about 2 ice trays) and pour Herbsaint over ice. When shrimp are cooked, transfer them to the ice along with just enough boiling liquid to melt the ice. Shrimp should be kept cool.