True, a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato needs no further embellishment than some extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt. But with the lumpy love apples overflowing their Greenmarket stands like Serbians at the U.S. Open, a little variety can’t hurt. Enter Resto’s Ryan Skeen and this tasty dish inspired by a trip he took to Peter Luger, where he found his muse in a tomato-and-onion salad served with the restaurant’s signature steak sauce. Skeen’s marmaladelike dressing features Indonesian red-palm sugar, and it’s so good he should follow Luger’s lead and bottle it.
Ryan Skeen’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sweet Onions and Grilled Bacon
2 large Spanish onions
6 cloves garlic, peeled and blanched in fresh water three times
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing
2 ounces chicken stock
2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar
1 tablespoon Gula Jawa (Indonesian red-palm sugar; available at Asia Market Corp.)
2 tablespoons bush basil, chopped (available at Greenmarket)
1/2 pound good-quality slab bacon, sliced into quarter-inch slices
Mix of 4 medium or large heirloom tomatoes
1 pint mixed small heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch purslane (Greenmarket)
1 bunch lovage (Greenmarket)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the onion marmalade: Dice 1 of the onions and the blanched garlic. In a sauté pan, sweat the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil, covered, over low heat, for 30 minutes. Add stock, vinegar, and Gula Jawa, return to heat, and reduce mixture by half until it has the consistency of a marmalade. Season with salt and pepper, cool to room temperature, and then fold in chopped bush basil. While the marmalade is cooling, cook the bacon on a grill plate until both sides achieve a good char. (1) Slice the large tomatoes in half-inch rounds; halve the small tomatoes. Slice the remaining onion in quarter-inch rings, removing the center pieces. Pick the purslane and lovage into dime-size pieces. To serve: Arrange the tomatoes on 4 plates and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. (2) Toss the onion rings with the onion marmalade and the lovage. In another bowl, toss the purslane with a drizzle of olive oil. (3) Layer the tomatoes with the dressed onion rings and the bacon. Finish with the purslane. Serves 4.