Heirloom and Cherry Tomato Salad with Creamy Anise Hyssop and Lovage Dressing

This Heirloom and Cherry Tomato Salad is featured in “A Savory Puzzle,” one of our stories in the running for an EDDY award. Please vote today: http://www.ediblefeast.com/eddyawards/vote/9363/savory-puzzle

From A SAVORY PUZZLE, Finding clues in the pastry at the Growlers’ Arms.

cherry-tomato

Photo by Stacy Ventura

Chef Brian Ventura’s inspiration for this summer salad comes directly from his experience touring the Irish countryside: “I can see the farmer making his cheese and growing the herbs and tomatoes in his garden, taking fresh buttermilk to make the dressing. At least that’s what I would do if ever I’m blessed enough to have a real farm.”

Brian buys the anise hyssop and lovage from White Crane Springs Ranch at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Both are wonderful plants to grow in a home garden, and it’s not too hard to find starts or seeds at your local nursery.

Serves 3–4

2 handfuls frilly red mustard greens
3 large heirloom tomatoes (choose a mix of colors and flavors)
½ basket cherry tomatoes
1 bunch lovage
1 bunch anise hyssop (leaves plus flowers)
¼ pound Coolea Cheddar
Maldon sea salt

For the dressing:
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¾ tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup aioli
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped anise hyssop leaves
1 tablespoon chopped lovage leaves
Maldon sea salt

To prepare the dressing, combine the vinegars and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in aioli, Dijon, buttermilk, and crème fraîche. Finish with the herbs and salt to taste.

In a large bowl, salt and dress the mustard greens with some of the dressing, then arrange on a large serving plate. Cut the large tomatoes into bite-size wedges and the cherry tomatoes in half. Toss them in the bowl with additional dressing, salt, and 3 to 4 torn lovage and anise hyssop leaves. Once those are topping the mustard greens, shave some Coolea Cheddar over the top, and finish with some small anise hyssop flower petals.