Party food can be healthy, too. In fact, during the festive season, it’s important to have a few healthy recipes up our sleeves that are fancy enough to be invited to the holiday table while balancing the season’s excess. Smoked Salmon Tartare is a perfect multi-tasking appetizer: It has fresh, bold flavors, is rich in protein, B vitamins, and calcium and is low-fat to boot. It may be dressed up and served on brioche toasts, or kept more casual, presented on baguette slices, or, in this case, whole grain pumpernickel bread. Garnish it with fresh herbs and lemon, and don’t forget to pass the champagne – it’s the party season, after all.
Smoked Salmon Tartare
For best results, finely chop the salmon, onion and chives in similar minced size. I prefer to do this by hand with a knife, rather than use a food processor, which will often create a paste.
8 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Whole wheat or pumpernickel rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely dice the smoked salmon. Transfer to a bowl. Fold in the onion, yogurt and lemon juice. Add the dill and chives and gently combine. Mound spoonfuls of the salmon on pumpernickel or whole wheat rounds. Sprinkle with sea salt (to taste) and freshly ground black pepper. Serve garnished with lemon segments.
Before I fully throw myself into fall, I will share this recipe that takes advantage of the bushels of heirloom tomatoes we are still lucky enough to enjoy. Our warm and sunny early autumn has kept the supply of tomatoes ample and ripe. I am a sucker for heirloom tomatoes, their range of colors, patterns and bulbous shapes are eternally pleasing. In this easy recipe, I dice a variety of tomatoes and serve them in a glass, or verrine, to show off their colors. A dollop of creamy burrata and drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar results in a savory parfait that is as beautiful to look at as delicious to eat.
Considering how fresh and minimal this recipe is, it’s key that you use high quality ingredients. Choose firm yet ripe tomatoes with a range of colors, and be sure to use a good extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Heirloom Tomato Tartare Verrines
Makes 6 small appetizers
6 slices of baguette, cut 4 inches in length by 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, lightly smashed
1 1/2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 burrata rounds, approx. 4 ounces
Aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven broiler. Brush baguette slices with olive oil. Rub with garlic clove. Arrange in one layer on a baking tray. Broil until lightly golden on both sides, turning once. Remove and set aside.
Place diced tomato in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Gently stir to combine. Divide the tomatoes evenly between 6 glasses. Top with a spoonful of Burratta. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Top with a basil sprig. Serve with baguette crostini.
Presentation does make a difference – not only in terms of visual appeal, but also in taste. Heirloom Tomato Tartare takes the ingredients of a simple tomato and basil salad, and, with some dicing and stacking, results in a colorful and refined appetizer. Heirloom tomatoes of various colors are diced and combined with finely chopped kalamata olives and shallots. The confetti of tiny morsels allows for satisfying mouthfuls bursting with sweet tomato, briny olive and sharp shallot. Try it – you’ll like it.
In this recipe I have topped the tartare with a spoonful of creamy burrata and basil. If you don’t want to splurge on burrata, try a small wedge of buffalo mozzarella. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with Balsamic Syrup. While the ingredients are the same as you will find in a Caprese Salad, the presentation is refreshingly different.
Heirloom Tomato Tartare with Balsamic Syrup Serves 6
6 medium-large heirloom tomatoes, ripe but firm (choose different tomatoes for color variation)
10 Kalamata olives, pitted, diced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 buffalo mozzarella or burrata
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic Syrup (see below)
Prepare tartare: Cut tomatoes in half. Remove and discard seeds, juice and ribs if mealy. Cut in 1/4″ dice. Combine diced tomatoes, olives and shallot in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper.
Arrange 1/2 cup of tomatoes in a stacked circle in center of a serving plate. Cut mozzarella in half and divide each half into 3 wedges. Gently place wedge on top of tomatoes. If using burrata, carefully pull apart a small portion of the cheese, without too much liquid, and arrange on top of tomatoes.
Drizzle tomatoes and cheese with olive oil. Garnish with a basil leaf. Serve with balsamic syrup either drizzled on the plate around the tomatoes, or in a small cup to the side.
Balsamic Syrup: Bring one cup every-day quality balsamic syrup to a boil (don’t use the fancy one). Simmer, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Smoked salmon tartare is another easy holiday recipe for entertaining. Finely diced smoked salmon is tumbled with rich crème fraîche and moistened with fresh citrus juice. Red onion adds sweetness and crunch while chopped dill and chives brighten and freshen the tartare. If you are feeling extra-fancy, garnish the tartare with salmon roe and serve with champagne, and watch how this easy appetizer morphs into an elegant black-tie hors-d’oeuvre.
Smoked Salmon Tartare
Try to resist the urge to use a food processor for the salmon. The salmon should be small individual pieces rather than a puréed mixture.
Finely chop the smoked salmon in 1/8 inch dice and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add red onion, lemon and lime juice, lemon zest and black pepper. Fold in crème fraîche. (The tartare should be moist, but not soupy.)
Tartare may be made up to 8 hours in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate.
Before serving, gently stir in chopped dill and chives.
Serve tartare with baguette slices or endive leaves. Garnish with snipped dill sprigs.