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The name of this dish comes from the old fruit labels that were found on all the crates, they used this slogan to promote California produce across the U.S. after the railroads were shipping across the country. Unfortunately politicians took this slogan and turned it against California, my goal was to take this slogan back to its proper glory of promoting their bounty of California produce. This salad can be adapted per season by switching out the fruits and nuts and using what is available that season.
1 cup pistachio nuts (4 oz/125 g)
3 tbsp pistachio oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Shabazi N38 spice blend
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1/3 cup zinfandel vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Shabazi spice blend
1/4 cup pistachio nuts (1 oz/30 g)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Flakey sea salt
Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper
3 lb heirloom tomatoes, in assorted colors (1.5 kg)
2 melons, in different varieties and preferably different colors
1/4 lb arugula leaves (125 g)
1/4 cup fresh opal basil leaves, torn (1/4 oz/7 g)
1 serrano chile, cut into paper-thin rings
1/4 cup Zinfandel Shabazi Vinaigrette (recipe below) (2 fl oz/60 ml)
For the Zinfandel Vinaigrette
In a mixing bowl, combine vinegar, lemon juice, shabazi spice and olive oil. Whisk to emulsify, finishing with the extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until dry and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely and then transfer to a blender, add the oil and a pinch of salt, and the Shabazi blend, process until smooth and spreadable. Transfer to an airtight container and reserve. (The butter can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)
For the Salad
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C).
In a small bowl, toss the 1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) pistachios with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little salt, spread on the baking sheet, and roast in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
Cut the tomatoes into different shapes and sizes, 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick slices and 1/2 -inch (12-mm) wedges. Halve the melons, discard the seeds, and then peel away the skin, making sure you keep their nice round shape. Cut the melon halves into different shapes, such as crescent moons, halved crescent moons, and cubes.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, melons, toasted pistachios, arugula, basil, and about half of the serrano rings. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper, toss again, and then taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, put 1 tablespoon of the pistachio butter on 4 different areas of a large platter, and using the back of a spoon, drag each mound into a streak across the platter. Artfully arrange the salad down the middle of the platter. Top with the remaining serrano rings and serve right away.
Photo © Michael Harlan Turkell