A friend of mine from Idaho was visiting with me last week. As a good foodie, I took her to the famous San Francisco farmer’s market by the waterfront. While we were there, the sights, smells, and the flavors of the produce were ravishing. We were captivated by the lustrous crimson of heirloom tomatoes, the sweet scent of the basil, and the rich creamy taste of the goat cheese.
How am I going to capture the essence of the farmer’s market on a plate? A stacked salad popped right into my mind.
- 8 round slices ready-to-cook polenta, tubular package, ¼ inch thick
- 2 to 4 heirloom tomatoes, preferably different colors and patterns, cut into 8 thick slices
- 1 cup basil leaves, chopped
- 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup basil pesto sauce ( optional but here is the recipe to make your own )
The preparation is easy. Heat up a frying pan with olive oil. Fry the polenta slices on medium heat. Turn the slices until both sides are firm to the touch on the outside. I prefer my enameled cast-iron skillet, as it seems to fry the polenta most evenly, plus, it leaves me some browned polenta crisps that are a small, pleasant addition. Save these little browned crisps.
To make the stacked salad, place one polenta slice on the center of a plate. If you like, you can spread some basil pesto on top. Then place a tomato slice on top of it, and sprinkle some salt onto the tomato. Next place the second polenta slice on top, and spread some more pesto if you like. Finally, cap the stack with the second tomato slice of a different color or pattern, and sprinkle a bit more salt. After that, drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the stack, and add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar around the stack. Then sprinkle chopped basil on top. Next comes the goat cheese. Sprinkle it on top and around the stack. To garnish, sprinkle any browned polenta crisps on top and around the stack.
If you have never visited a farmers’ market before, visit one in your neighborhood before the summer is over. Also, if the heat is making you tired of eating anything heavy, having a stacked salad like this may just be the right lunch to keep you going.
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