Summer Tomatoes with Pickled Okra, Watermelon Radish and Pedro Ximenez Vinaigrette

By Mat Schuster

Mat Schuster is Executive Chef and owner of Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in San Francisco where he specializes in Traditional Spanish and Spanish inspired California Cuisine. He will be participating in Eat Drink SF as part of the Saturday Night Grand Tasting at Fort Mason and with a special Sunday Brunch. Mat took time out to offer us his preparation for a current summer favorite at Canela.

Mat in action at an Olive Lunch at Canela.

For the Pickled Okra

I love pickling fruits and vegetables, and it is easier than you think.  It is also useful in the summer when produce is more abundant than you can manage.  If you have a vacuum packer, this is a great use for it other then rewrapping cheese.  If not, store your pickles in reusable containers or zip top bags.  I really haven’t met anything that you can’t pickle.  You can also play with different herbs, spices, zests and vinegars.

  • Mat Salad1# Whole, Fresh Okra, washed
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider, Champaign or other lighter Vinegars
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Sprigs Fresh Dill or 1 Tbl Dill Seeds
  • 3 coves garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon each of”
    • Whole Cumin,
    • Coriander,
    • Chili Flakes
    • Fennel
    • Peppercorns
    • Juniper Berries
    • or a combo of your favorite Spices
  • 2 Tbl Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbl Sugar or Honey

In a medium to medium-large stockpot, bring everything except the okra to a boil.  Add in okra and return to a boil.  Remove and set aside to cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate.

For the Vinaigrette

I like using Pedro Ximenez vinegar for this recipe, because it has such a sweet and intense flavor that goes well on salads.  Pedro Ximenez is a Spanish grape varietal that is grown in the South and produces one of best sweet wines available. It also lends itself well to aging, so many of these vinegars are 30 years old, aged in barrels.

  • 1/2 cup Pedro Ximenez Vinegar
  • 1 cup Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • dash of salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together and set aside.

For the Salad

  • 2 cups of Mixed, Tasty Tomatoes, Different Colors, Sliced into Wedges
  • 1/4 cup Pickled Okra, Sliced on the Bias
  • 1 Tbl Julianne Watermelon Radish
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup Favorite Ripe Melon suck as Honeydew, Watermelon or Other
  • Pedro Ximenez Vinegrette to taste
  • Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Mix ingredients together with vinaigrette and plate.  Sprinkle extra salt and pepper on tomatoes.

Olives from Spain partnered with Chef Mat Schuster for a private demonstration to students at San Francisco’s world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

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While finishing his undergrad degree at Emory University, Mat Schuster traveled abroad to Europe where he cultivated his love for cooking.  Upon returning to the United States, Mat joined up at the California Culinary Academy’s College of Food in San Diego and then Bauman College in Berkeley where he attained his Nutrition Educator status.   Previously, Mat honed his skills as a cooking instructor for Draeger’s Culinary Center and Whole Foods Market in the Bay Area.  Mat was the Chef and Manger for the San Francisco Bay Club as well as The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy where he was in charge of three natural cafes in the National Parks. Recently, Chef Mat continued his education in the kitchens of Michelin Starred La Venta Moncalvillo as well as El Portal de Echaurren in La Rioja, Spain. He continues to teach cooking classes in the Bay Area for Draeger’s, Ramekins and Canela’s in-house education program.  Please visit canelasf.com for more information about Mat and Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in San Francisco.

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