Tomato-Mozzarella Tower with Shallot-Bacon Dressing
Learn how to make a delicious and colorful tomato tower with mozzarella, bacon and a balsamic glaze.
6 slices really good white bread, not the soft stuff
12 baby Roma tomatoes, red and yellow, for garnish (optional)
6 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 heirloom tomatoes; make sure the tomatoes are uniform in size (if you can’t find heirlooms, use regular tomatoes)
10 fresh basil leaves
2 (6-ounce) packages buffalo mozzarella
1 to 2 tablespoons Reduced Balsamic Syrup (see below)
Cut 6 bread rounds using a 4 ½ inch cookie cutter. Set aside.
Slice the baby Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise. Set aside.
Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium, add the shallots to the bacon drippings, and sauté for 30 seconds, until the shallots start to turn a bit crispy.
Add the apple cider vinegar, and with a wooden spoon, stir well, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to use as dressing.
Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add as many bread rounds as will fit in the pan. Lightly toast both sides of the bread. Be careful that the flame isn’t too high; you don’t want to burn the bread, so stay with it until all 6 pieces have been toasted lightly. Set aside.
Crumble the cooked bacon into small bits and set aside in a small bowl.
Cut the heirloom tomatoes into slices slightly less than ½ “ thick. You should have 18 slices that are consistent in size. You will have some tomato left over.
Cut the buffalo mozzarella into slices slightly less than ½ “ thick. You should have 12 slices that are consistent in size.
Stack all 10 of the basil leaves on top of one another, roll them into a cigarette shape, and slice thin.
Make an assembly line: toasted bread, heirloom tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, shallot dressing, bacon bits, kosher salt, basil, balsamic syrup.
Place one toasted bread round on a salad plate, add a slice of heirloom tomato, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Drizzle on several drops of shallot dressing and a pinch of crumbled bacon, letting a little fall onto the plate as well.
Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and then another slice of tomato.
Repeat this process until you have three slices of heirloom tomato and two slices of mozzarella cheese in your tower.
On the last tomato slice, the one that tops the tower, sprinkle more bacon bits, then lightly drizzle more dressing (a little goes a long way), including some on the plate for a professional look. Garnish with a few strips of basil and balsamic syrup.
Add 5 to 6 baby Roma tomato halves to the plate and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, if you like.
Repeat the assembly process for the other 5 towers.
Directions for the balsamic vinegar:
1 (16.9 fluid-ounce) bottle balsamic vinegar
Pour the whole bottle into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-high and continue to boil until the vinegar starts to thicken and forms a syruplike consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to thicken too much, or you will end up with a thick black goop.
To test, use a wooden spoon: if the syrup coats the back of the spoon, it is ready to remove from the heat. Let it cool to room temperature before you store it in the refrigerator. I use a needle-nose plastic bottle to store my glaze after it has cooled. It will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator.