Again, before you get mad, let me be clear. Of course not ALL chain restaurants lack the inspiration and passion for truly creative, fresh and flavorful food. Case in point: Gulfstream, owned by the Hillstone Group, which also owns and operates Houstons, Bandera and R+D Kitchen. Several months ago I posted a recipe to Houston's famous Evil Jungle Thai Steak salad, one of my all-time favorite sweet, spicy and savory salads filled with medium rare steak, soba noodles, mint, cabbage, tomatoes, peanut and chili sauce. It's amazing. But that's another post.
Houston's Evil Jungle Thai Steak SaladToday I want to talk about Gulfstream's seasonal heirloom tomato salad, topped with oozing, salty burrata cheese, crunchy Marcona almonds, a rich balsamic vinegar reduction and drizzle of green, almost grassy extra virgin olive oil.
Marcona AlmondsA trip to Whole Foods this afternoon inspired me to try my hand making this incredible salad at home, after a huge pile of red, green and yellow heirloom tomatoes caught my eye. I knew that Whole Foods also sold burrata cheese from Angelo & Franco, one of my favorite cheese companies, so I grabbed a red and yellow tomato, a container of burrata cheese, a small box of Marcona almonds (a flat, intensely crunchy almond from Spain) and some arugula, for some greens and good measure. At home, I chopped the tomatoes and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, pulled apart one small ball of burrata cheese with my fingers (hey, you've got to get dirty in the kitchen sometimes!) and layered it among the tomatoes, dropped a few almonds on the pile and finished it off with a few drizzles of an Italian balsamic reduction (balsamic vinegar boiled down until it thickens into a syrup-like consistency), extra virgin olive oil and some chopped arugula. Dinner, done and done. It was just amazing and dare I say it, better than Gulfstream's version.
My version of Gulfstream's heirloom tomato & burrata saladI don't have an official recipe for this; I just eyed it. But if you'd like something more official, here's my best guess.
Heirloom Tomato + Burrata Salad
Makes two servings
- Two medium-sized heirloom tomatoes (mix the colors for a beautiful result)
- One container of Angelo & Franco Burrata Cheese (contains two balls)
- 20 Marcona almonds (found in most specialty stores, or in Whole Foods' specialty section)
- Drizzle of balsamic reduction
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- ~3 tablespoons chopped arugula (or simply rip it with your fingers and sprinkle on top)