Salad of Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cucumber Jelly and Pesto

This gorgeous salad is best assembled just before serving, but the cucumber jelly should be made at least one hour in advance and chilled in the refrigerator until set. And if you don’t have time to make the jelly, feel free to substitute a seeded, cubed cucumber instead.

Wine Recommendations: Head sommelier at Montage Resort & Spa, Christopher Coon, says that this salad presents a challenge because of the inherent sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes and strawberries. He recommends a dry, minerally rosé, such as one from Languedoc-Boussillon or Provençe, like the Les Beaux de Provençe 2002 Mas de Gourgonnier Rosé. "A wine like this," he says, "will have a bright acidity to match the strawberries and tomatoes, and a superripe core of fruit similar to strawberries, so the flavors in the wine echo those on the plate."

  • For the cucumber jelly:
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped (to yield about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package (1¼4 ounce) powdered gelatin
  • For the pesto:
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted and chopped
  • pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • For the salad:
  • 1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint medium strawberries, halved
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar Salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 thin slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or 2 tablespoons shredded)
  • 1 cup baby arugula leaves
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the cucumber jelly: Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. To section the lemon, use a serrated knife to cut the top and bottom off the lemon, cutting through all the white pith to expose the pips. Stand the lemon up on the cutting board and cut the remaining peel and pith from it, working with the curve of the fruit. Holding the lemon over a bowl to catch the juice, cut between the membranes to release the sections, letting them fall into the bowl. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice into the bowl.

Place the cucumber, lemon sections and sugar in a food processor and puree until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until warm; add the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Transfer to the prepared pan and cool in the refrigerator until firm, 1 hour.

To make the pesto: Place the garlic, pistachios, Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a blender and purée until smooth, adding a little more olive oil if needed. Add the basil leaves to the blender and continue to purée. With the blender running, drizzle in the remaining oil and continue to blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Place 6 salad bowls in the refrigerator to chill. In a medium bowl, toss together the tomatoes, strawberries, lime zest and juice, sugar, and vinegar until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Remove cucumber from pan and finely chop. Spread equal amounts of cucumber jelly in the bottom of well-chilled soup bowls or soup plates. Using a slotted spoon, divide the strawberries and tomatoes among 6 salad bowls, reserving the liquid left in the bowl. Top each serving with a slice of Parmesan cheese (or shred the Parmesan and sprinkle over arugula). Toss the arugula in the large bowl with the reserved liquid and the olive oil. Place arugula on top of the Parmesan cheese. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of pesto around and over the cucumber jelly on each plate and serve immediately.

Published on July 1, 2010