Pickity Place's Heirloom Tomato and Fennel Salad
One of the nicest places for a destination lunch lies amidst the rolling hills of Mason. In fact, the journey there is part of the charm. The quaint red cottage, built in 1786, is the focal point for a charming garden, interesting gift shop, herb nursery and lovely five-course luncheon. (A nice selection of herb packets, also available online, is among the nursery's best offerings.) In the 1940s, artist Elizabeth Orton Jones used the cottage as the model for her illustrations in the Little Golden Books version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Today, there are three daily seatings at 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. ($21.95). Menus are geared to the season, inspired by the garden and change with the months. Chef and owner Keith Grimes will soon be celebrating 20 years of stewardship of this wonderful spot.
Heirloom tomato and fennel salad with blood orange vinaigrette
1 head of romaine lettuce, trimmed and cut into ribbons
1 container spring mix lettuce, torn by hand
3 cups tri-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup red onion, thinly julienned
1/3 cup light olive oil
1 pinch of salt and cracked black pepper
12 small buffalo mozzarella balls, sliced in half
6 slices of watermelon radish, shaved thin
1 fennel bulb, shaved thin (Pickity Place uses bronze fennel.)
1 European cucumber, sliced very thin so that you can make slices into ribbons
In a mixing bowl, add the tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper. Gently mix and set aside. Place the mixed lettuce on serving plates and top with the tomato and onion mixture. Add the buffalo mozzarella, fennel, watermelon radish and curled cucumber. Top with the blood orange vinaigrette (recipe below).
1 tablespoon blood orange concentrate
1 tablespoon orange concentrate
1 cup light olive oil
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sweet basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients thoroughly and serve over salad. Garnish with fresh basil or Italian parsley.