I like to cook as much as I like to eat in restaurants, but much of what I eat in restaurants, I wouldn’t attempt to reproduce at home. Isn’t that why we go to restaurants, after all? Chefs cook so much better than we do. Still there are times when I taste something delicious that seems within my grasp, and I think: “I want that recipe!”
At Radiator Whiskey, I loved the cornflake-crusted chicken livers, the lamb neck sloppy Joe and the fried beef-lip terrine that chefs Tyler Palagi and Charlie Garrison do so well. But one dish I want to work into my regular repertoire at home is their flaming-red tomato and watermelon salad —especially now, while both key ingredients are at their seasonal peaks. Palagi shared their recipe (not yet tested by me).
The secret sauce that makes this salad soar is a chili vinaigrette thickened with pureed Mama Lil’s pickled goathorn peppers—an item that’s already a pantry staple at my house. Palagi and Garrison garnish their version with crumbled chicharrones—fried pork rinds. If you’ve got ‘em, flaunt ‘em. Crumbled bacon isn’t quite so audacious but I’m thinking they might make a fine substitute at home.
Radiator Whiskey’s Tomato-Watermelon Salad (makes 2 servings)
For the pepper sauce:
1 cup packed/drained Mama Lil’s peppers
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
2 T local honey
2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy smooth. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
For the salad:
1 cup large diced watermelon (we like Sugar Baby melon)
1/2 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (we like Sungold)
1 T chive chiffonade
Lightly dress with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
To serve: Spread the sauce between two plates. Mound the tomatoes and watermelon over the sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Top with crumbled chicharrones, if desired (we desire).