The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant has unveiled a new spring dinner menu featuring timeless favorites like steaks and chops as well as seasonal dishes. Here in our Studio 41 kitchen with a look at the new menu is Chef Oscar Montesinos.

1401 S. Michigan Ave

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Heirloom Tomato, Melon & Burrata Cheese Salad with Basil Oil & Lavender Honey Vinaigrette

For the Lavender Honey Vinaigrette (makes 1 cup):

  • ½ cup Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Lavender Buds
  • 3 whole Cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

-Combine Lavender, Cloves and Honey in a small sauce pot and cook on medium heat. Bring honey to a slow simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

-Remove pot from heat and stir in Sherry Vinegar.

-Allow to cool. This can be don ahead of time and stored in a covered container at room temperature for one week.

-Place room temperature Lavender Honey in a bowl and whisk in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

For the Basil Oil (makes 1 cup):

  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt

-Place Olive Oil in the refrigerator while you prepare the basil.

-Bring one gallon of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water.

-Blanch the Basil Leaves in boiling water for about 10 seconds. Remove them quickly with a strainer and dunk in the ice water, stirring them around to be sure they’re all cold.

-Remove the Basil Leaves from the ice water and gently squeeze them to remove excess water.

-Place the blanched basil in a blender. Add the kosher salt and chilled olive oil. Blend until the basil is pureed.

-Line a strainer or sieve with a coffee filter and pour the basil oil through it. Gently push on the solids with a ladle or spoon to extract the oil. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

For the Salad (serves 4-6):

  • 2 pounds Heirloom Tomatoes (whatever varieties you like, the more different colors, the better)
  • 1 pound multicolored Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ Cup thinly sliced Red Onion
  • 2 cups Persian Cucumbers, cut into ¼ inch thick half moons
  • 2 cups Watermelon and/or Cantaloupe, cut into large dice or cubes (whatever melon is in season or any combination of several that you like)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves, torn roughly into ½ inch pieces
  • Maldon Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Honey Lavender Vinaigrette (see recipe above)
  • 3 Tablespoons Basil Oil (see recipe above)
  • Two 4 ounce Balls of Burrata Cheese, removed from brine liquid
  • 1 whole lemon

-Slice the Heirloom Tomatoes into slices and wedges. Season with Maldon Sea Salt and Black Pepper and arrange on a large serving platter.

-In a mixing bowl combine cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, Persian cucumbers, cubed melon, torn basil leaves and lavender honey vinaigrette. Season with sea salt and black pepper and toss to combine.

-Spoon mixture over the top of the Heirloon Tomato slices and wedges on the platter.

-Cut the two balls of Burrata into 4 pieces each and arrange on the top of the salad. Sprinkle each piece with sea salt and pepper and using a microplane grate lemon zest over the top of each piece of cheese.

-Using a spoon, drizzle the Basil Oil over the top of the salad on the platter. Serve immediately.

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