A Taste of Home
Clif Gottwals’ recipe recaptures sunny memories from decades ago and promises to light up your menu.
For May, PalmerHouse Properties Elevated broker and co-owner Clif Gottwals brings us the ultimate summer recipe – a Tomato Salad plucked from his childhood growing up on a farm outside Annapolis, Maryland.
Gottwals recalls, “One of my fondest childhood memories of summer was picking a tomato in the garden and eating it while still warm from the sun. Fresh-picked, sun-ripened tomatoes have an incomparable taste. My Mom’s Summer Bread and Tomato Salad made frequent appearances on the porch dinner table. For me, this recipe reminds me of summer and family time on the porch.”
A former executive at JP Morgan, Gottwals spent nearly a quarter of a century working around the globe.
During that time, he called 15 different places “Home.” After many years of marathon hours, relentless travel and the roller coaster ride of the job, Gottwals decided to opt for a completely new life. Making a complete break from the financial sector, he moved to Florida to teach school.
While suffering summers off in the Florida heat, a friend told him about Highlands, where the mountain air was cool and culture was rich.
Highlands instantly enchanted him and within six weeks of his first visit, he purchased a summer home here. Like so many others before him, he soon decided to make the Plateau his year round residence. From that decision came both a new career and the start of a new chapter in his history.
Having bought and sold many homes during his career, he realized that he had experience that was readily transferable to being an effective real estate broker. In July 2020, he and business partner Doug Helms opened the Highlands PalmerHouse Properties Elevated office in July 2020.
Two years ago, a contractor commented that his family had been in Highlands for a long time.
That prompted his curiosity and, after some research, he discovered that his Great Great Uncle, John Z. Gottwals, was the architect of Highlands United Methodist Church and architect and owner of the John Ziegler Gottwals House – the charming 1892 Victorian home listed on the National Historic Register, located at 802 Fourth Street. I don’t know if Gottwals expected to find this kind of deep connection when he first discovered Highlands, but it is clear that Highlands was meant to be his home.
Clif Gottwals’ Summer Tomato and Bread Salad
(Really, His Mom’s)
One Large Loaf of Crusty Bread – cut into bite sized chunks (should be 8-10 cups worth)
3 to 4 Large Heirloom Tomatoes (fresh, never refrigerated) cut into bite sized pieces
1 Large Sweet Yellow Pepper Cut into small pieces
1 Large Sweet Vidalia Onion cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup of Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of Honey
1/2 cup of Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
1 tablespoon of Freshly Crushed Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Dry the chopped bread overnight or in 300-degree oven for 15 minutes
2. Make the vinaigrette by combining Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Honey and Garlic and add Salt and Pepper to taste.
3. Combine the chopped vegetables and chopped, dried bread in a large mixing bowl
4. Pour vinaigrette over top and use a wooden spoon to combine the vegetables, bread and vinaigrette without over mixing.
5. Let sit unrefrigerated for 30 minutes to three hours, stirring occasionally to distribute the juices throughout the salad
6. Immediately before serving stir in the chopped basil and enjoy!