She's done it again: Last year's first-place Top Tomato winner, Mary Jo Sweeney of Crownsville, gave us 'Mato Sammidges. This time her individual layered salads took second place. Sweeney says she was looking to use up containers of sour cream, pesto and pine nuts -- all in the service of complementing tomatoes. Her salad looks very splashy served in a margarita glass.
Some tips from Sweeney: Adjust layered amounts to fit the size of your serving dishes. Add the lime juice to the sour cream in increments; a delicate citrus taste works best so it does not compete with the pesto and the acidity of the tomato. Don't add the salt to the sour cream mixture until after you taste the pesto; the flavor of store-bought pestos varies widely.
Make Ahead: The lime sour cream needs to be refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours to develop flavor.
- Juice of 1 lime, plus the finely grated zest of half the lime (1 tablespoon juice plus 1/2 teaspon zest)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- About 8 Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped into chunks, then drained
- 8 ounces good-quality store-bought pesto (made with pine nuts and basil), at room temperature
- 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped (see NOTE)
- 4 small sprigs basil, for garnish
Combine most of the lime juice and all of the zest, the cayenne pepper, sour cream and salt in a container with a tight-fitting lid; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to serve, have ready 4 footed clear glass dessert bowls (8- to 10-ounce capacity) or margarita glasses.
Divide the tomato chunks among the bowls, arranging them as a thick, packed layer in each one.
Spoon a thin layer of pesto over each portion of tomatoes, going to the edges of the glass so the layering can be seen.
Taste the lime sour cream; add the remaining lime juice as needed. Spread the lime sour cream completely across the top of each portion, adjusting the amount and thickness to personal taste. (You might not use an entire cup's worth, depending on the serving dish size.)
Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and a sprig of basil. Serve immediately.
NOTE: Spread the pine nuts on a small baking sheet or in a pie plate. Toast in a 350-degree oven for 6 or 7 minutes or until golden brown. Watch closely, because they burn easily. Let cool completely.
From Top Tomato 2009 finalist Mary Jo Sweeney, of Crownsville, Md.
Tested by Tom Wilkinson.
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