Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thoughts on Tomatoes

I absolutely love Summer. I mean, who doesn’t? (I actually have a few mid-West friends who prefer other seasons, which I can never wrap my head around.) Southern California is a perfect 80 degrees, the days are long with gorgeous sunsets, everyone has a healthy glow to them, and the tomatoes are ridiculous. I’ve been lucky in the past few weeks and keep receiving homegrown tomatoes from family and coworkers. I thought I’d share what I’ve been concocting with them.

Caprese Salad – sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil over a bed of arugula. Dress with some olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. A trick: sprinkle tomatoes with a hefty helping of sea salt and let them sit for 30 minutes before you eat. They’ll be oh-so-tasty!

Homemade Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato Sauce – sauté 2 diced tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 3 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons of red wine and stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Bruschetta

In Italy, I learned that every family has their own unique bruschetta recipes – and some are definitely better than others. I can’t stop thinking about the Bruschetta at this little Enoteca in Radda in Chianti. I begged for the recipe, but they wouldn’t share. After ordering their bruschetta multiple times (c’mon, I had to do my research…), I think I came close to figuring out the recipe. My version didn’t taste identical, but it was still really, really good!

2 tomatoes, diced finely
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T chopped oregano
2 T chopped basil
1 T salt
2 t pepper
Olive oil
Ciabatta bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover ingredients with olive oil and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Cut ciabatta into slices and then halves. Place on baking sheet and toast for approximately 5 minutes, until bread is crisp on the edges but slightly soft in the middle. Spoon the bruschetta mixture onto the toast – try to leave most of the oil and all of the garlic in the bowl.

Bruschetta-Infused Olive Oil - Once you’ve enjoyed your bruschetta from above, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Funnel the infused oil into an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator up to a week. I used this oil to cook tomato sauce, dress salads, or dip bread into. The olive oil may solidify in the fridge. If so, just let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes.

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