At Ford Fry’s Atlanta restaurant The Optimist, diners enjoy freshly shucked oysters on ice and intriguing seafood dishes like frothy crab soup and skate wing schnitzel. So we expected the laid-back spot’s executive chef, Adam Evans, to utilize his mayonnaise-based Louie dressing for seafood. Instead, he matches it with heirloom tomatoes, lending the ripe fruit a creamy, slightly spicy partner on the plate. Try the dressing with tomatoes first, then take Evans's advice and enjoy any leftovers as a spread for sandwiches all week.
Tomato Salad with Louie Dressing
Recipe adapted from Adam Evans, The Optimist, Atlanta
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light-green parts only
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet pickles
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 hard-boiled eggs, whites roughly chopped, yolks reserved for another use
Heirloom Tomato Salad
2 pounds large heirloom tomatoes
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt (such as Maldon)
¼ cup mixed fresh herbs
1. Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the chile sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco until combined. Mix in the scallions, pickles, garlic, salt, black pepper and paprika until combined. Gently fold in the egg whites. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Make the salad: Using a sharp knife or a serrated knife, slice the heirloom tomatoes into wedges, discarding the hard inner core. In a small bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
3. On a large serving platter (or 4 small plates), spread a layer of the reserved dressing. Arrange the heirloom tomatoes on the plate, then season with the coarse salt and black pepper. (Serve extra dressing on the side or reserve for another use.)
4. Toss the herbs with the cherry tomato mixture, then spoon it over the heirloom tomatoes. Serve immediately.
It's the details that count! Try these tips
The mix of fresh herbs makes the flavors in this salad really pop, and the chef recommends a combination of any of the following: chives, parsley, dill, basil, chervil, tarragon and cilantro. Everything but the chives and dill should be used as whole leaves. The chives and dill can be finely chopped before adding.
Try your hand at a classic crab Louie before the summer is through.