Written by Tom Brooks, Director of Food & Beverage at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa

The other day, we received an order of the most gorgeous, locally-grown heirloom tomatoes, which prompted me and our new Executive Chef Shawn Calley to have a discussion about how we could best incorporate them into an item for our menu.

Chef Shawn suggested we slice the tomatoes and toss them with a little fresh mozzarella and some of our fresh, garden-grown basil. While that certainly seemed like a delicious option, I couldn’t bring myself to chop such a beautiful tomato. Instead, here’s what I came up with, and it will soon be featured on the menu in our new Butler’s Farm restaurant.


Heirloom Lady Salad (serves 4)
4 large purple tiger-striped tomatoes
12 oz. lump crabmeat
12 small baby beats (orange and red), quartered and cooked
½ cup fresh peas (or thawed frozen)
1 shallot, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 sprigs tarragon, chopped
1 orange, juiced and zested
2 tbsp cider or champagne vinegar
1 egg yolk
½ cup hazelnut oil
½ tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
½ tbsp. yellow curry
2 cups balsamic vinegar

Cut the top off the tomato and hollow out the seeds, leaving a nice-sized opening for the presentation of the crabmeat stuffing. Cut a small slice off the bottom of the tomato to keep it stable on a plate. In a bowl combine crabmeat, peas, beats, shallot, and celery. In another bowl make a vinaigrette out of the tarragon, orange zest and juice, cider, egg yolk and oil. In a saucepan reduce the balsamic vinegar until it is the consistency of syrup, and let cool. Mix the crabmeat salad and the vinaigrette together and add the Old Bay and the curry. Stuff the tomato and drizzle the balsamic vinegar on top (just for looks and a delicious flavor). Serve with Groth Sauvignon Blanc or a tall cool Arnold Palmer.