Tag Archives: basil

Heirloom Tomato Tartare Verrines

~ Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata, Basil, Crostini ~

Before I fully throw myself into fall, I will share this recipe that takes advantage of the bushels of heirloom tomatoes we are still lucky enough to enjoy. Our warm and sunny early autumn has kept the supply of tomatoes ample and ripe. I am a sucker for heirloom tomatoes, their range of colors, patterns and bulbous shapes are eternally pleasing. In this easy recipe, I dice a variety of tomatoes and serve them in a glass, or verrine, to show off their colors. A dollop of creamy burrata and drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar results in a savory parfait that is as beautiful to look at as delicious to eat.

Considering how fresh and minimal this recipe is, it’s key that you use high quality ingredients. Choose firm yet ripe tomatoes with a range of colors, and be sure to use a good extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

Heirloom Tomato Tartare Verrines
Makes 6 small appetizers

6 slices of baguette, cut 4 inches in length by 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, lightly smashed
1 1/2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 burrata rounds, approx. 4 ounces
Aged balsamic vinegar
Basil sprigs

Preheat oven broiler. Brush baguette slices with olive oil. Rub with garlic clove. Arrange in one layer on a baking tray. Broil until lightly golden on both sides, turning once. Remove and set aside.
Place diced tomato in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Gently stir to combine. Divide the tomatoes evenly between 6 glasses. Top with a spoonful of Burratta. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Top with a basil sprig. Serve with baguette crostini.

Ratatouille Gratin

~ Ratatouille Gratin ~

It’s that time of year when the vegetables sneak up on you. A month ago, summer squash were elusive, appearing in the markets in small groups at a price. In the garden they were merely a hint of themselves peeking from their flowers. Purchases felt premature, tasting a little bitter, and costing too much for something you knew would soon be prolific.

~
Then, before you know it, a month has passed and squash are teeming everywhere. The garden is lobbing them to you like tennis balls, the market shelves are stacked with zucchini, crooknecks, and patty pans, ripe and ready for consumption. With the bounty, it’s time to get creative, because, ironically, it’s easy to tire of this abundance, and that is a shame.  So, yesterday I was determined to use my imagination to celebrate summer squash. Instead of a traditional ratatouille, I made a gratin. And before I made the gratin, I played a little bit with my food and made Ratatouille Stacks.

~ Ratatouille Stacks ~

The ingredients are identical, only the arrangement is different. Serve the gratins as side dishes or a light vegetarian meal. The stacks are fun appetizers.

Ratatouille Gratin

Be sure that the squash and eggplant have similar diameters. Makes 4 individual or 1 large gratin.

2 narrow Italian eggplant
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned (or 1 jar piquillo roasted peppers, drained)
1 bunch basil leaves
6 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash 1/4 inch thick. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil briefly until the vegetables begin to brown. Remove and cool.


~
Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Cut the peppers in pieces no larger than the sliced vegetables and set aside.  Place an eggplant slice on the work surface. Smear a pea-sized amount of goat cheese in the center of the eggplant. Top with a squash slice. Smear with the goat cheese and top with a red pepper piece. Smear with goat cheese and top with a basil leaf. Repeat process, alternating with squash, eggplant, red pepper and basil leaves, always adhering with a pea-sized amount of goat cheese. (If forming stacks, top with a basil leaf and a little goat cheese, then impale with a toothpick).
If making a gratin, carefully transfer stacks to an oiled gratin dish and slightly fan out the layers. Repeat until gratin dish is full. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese. Bake gratin in the oven until heated through and cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Pepper Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Sweet Pepper Bruschetta

Call it impulse shopping: I couldn’t resist the peppers at the Farmer’s Market.  It was my Thursday morning run to the market, nice and early to beat the crowd and avoid the scorching summer sun.  I was on an efficient mission to purchase ingredients needed only for dinner and not to spend too much money (my history is dismal in both areas.)  I breezed through quickly, authoritatively and with discipline, a few simple sacks of greens for a dinner salad lightly gracing my arm.  I was nearly finished, my wallet still in tact.  And then I saw the pepper table.  Sandwiched between the Asian vegetable ladies and the artisan goat cheese vendor, the pepper table stood out like a psychadelic altar to the produce gods.  Stacks and stacks of peppers were on display in a confetti of colors. Gnarly sweet red gypsies, smoky green poblanos, shiny purple bells, lantern-shaped habaneros, perky plump red cherries. It was a pepper smörgasbord.  I took some pictures, and then I filled my one remaining bag  with all kinds of peppers: Anneheim, Fresno, Hungarian, jalapeno, serrano. When the bag was full, I sheepishly asked for another, discarding any previously displayed discipline. I had no idea what I would use the peppers for – I wasn’t thinking; I just had to have them.  Luckily, this wasn’t a shoe store.

Peppers

So, several days later, after putting the peppers to satisfying decorative use in a bowl on my old Provençal farmer’s table, it’s time to eat them.  I think I will simply sauté them, because I’ve become attached to the aesthetic qualities of my peppers, and I think this will help retain their vibrant color and structure the best.  For an easy dinner tonight, I will make bruschetta topped with the sautéed peppers and melted cheese.  If I have any peppers left over, they can be used tomorrow in a pasta salad, a vegetable tian or as a pizza topping.

Sweet Pepper Bruschetta

Sweet Pepper Bruschetta with Mozzarella
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main course

For the bruschetta:
4 – 1/2″ thick slices of peasant or sourdough bread
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the peppers:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. (800 grams) mixed summer peppers, stemmed, seeded, large peppers cut lengthwise in strips, small peppers sliced horizontally in rings
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut in 4 slices
4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Garnish:

Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves

Make the bruschetta:
Grill the bread on both sides on a griddle pan or in an oven until toasted golden. Smash each garlic clove with the side of a large kitchen knife.  When the bread is grilled, brush each slice with olive oil and rub the smashed garlic over the bread slices. Place on baking sheet.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
Add peppers and sauté until tender but not too limp, about 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Spoon peppers over bread slices.  Shred one mozzarella slice over each bruschetta. Sprinkle one tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano over bruschetta.
Grill in oven until cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute.
Remove from oven and arrange on serving plates. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Garnish with basil leaves.