Alice Waters founded her famous Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, on the principle of using only pure fresh seasonal ingredients. She is an advocate for strong and sustainable agriculture, and a great supporter of farmersí markets.
This savory Mediterranean salad–based on ripe, tasty tomatoes–was inspired by one of her beautiful cookbooks. It makes a great excuse to search out some fresh tomatoes at your local market. Then you can make this fabulously simple, delicious salad in honor of Alice!
1 pound ripe juicy tomatoes, heirloom varieties if possible
1/2 clove garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
handful fresh basil leaves
garlic croutons (optional)
1. Wash and core tomatoes and cut into thick slices or wedges.
2. Peel the garlic. In the salad bowl or platter you wish to use, rub the garlic, using the tips of a fork, to make a puree. Add the vinegar and oil. Then add the tomatoes, tossing gently to coat with dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Slice mozzarella and tuck decoratively in and around the tomatoes. Scatter top of salad with basil leaves.
4. Add croutons, if using, to soak up the delicious juices.
Inspired by Fanny at Chez Panisse, by Alice Waters (HarperCollins 1992).