Tuesday, July 07, 2009

You Say Tomato, I Say Caprese

So it's officially tomato season and I am already reaping the bounty. Seriously? One neighbor stopped by on Saturday with 2 tomatoes from his garden (along with some freshly picked blackberries, a peach and a watermelon - God I love small town, Southern life). Then later in the day, another friend stopped by with a-not-quite-ripe tomato picked from her mama's garden and which ripened nicely on my window sill. Then yesterday at lunch with my friend Paul, he bestowed not one, not two, but FOUR fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes on me. OMG. We won't even discuss the supermarket tomato I purchased mid-week last week that is now languishing in my fridge. SEVEN tomatoes (eight if you count Mr. Supermarket tomato). Holy tomatoes Batman.

Ok...so one tomato has been chopped and made its way into some salads over the last few days.

Paul's gift yesterday inspired me to fix fresh insalata Caprese for dinner (or supper as we say around these parts):

I tossed some baby spinach with the last of the really good olive oil that I actually purchased in Italy and a little balsamic, layered fresh tomato, mozzarella and red onion over the top, and then sprinkled with a little basil chiffonade, a drizzle more olive oil and some sea salt. OMG. D. LISH. YUM.

Of course, I still have 6 more very ripe tomatoes just screaming to be eaten/cooked/enjoyed. I am toying between a little red sauce and tomato pap.

Red Sauce: this recipe is from the Il Cibreo cookbook (also acquired in Italy after dining at Il Cibreo back in October of '96 AND signed by the chef) and while the sauce is intended to be served with veal and ricotta croquettes (which are OMG so good and I swear I'll post the recipe in my "FOR CARNIVORES EVERYWHERE: 25 Meaty Recipes That Will Change Your Life - I Swear" which I promised to write 100 years ago and which I promise to write before the next 100 years are up ), it's suitable for vegetarians everywhere.

"Having fried the croquette, prepare a light tomato sauce with 2 cloves of garlic, which you will put on fire together with the oil (a little, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan).

As soon as you smell the oil heating up add two 1/2 KG. tins of peeled tomatoes and add salt. Cook for about a quarter of an hour, and a few minutes before removing the heat add some fresh basil. Pass through a vegetable mouli and add 70g. of butter."

I hear you now: "Vegetable mouli? WTF Country Girl!" Pass it through a strainer or seive - anything to smooth it out. I swear - this is the easiest yummiest sauce ever. And I have no idea what two 1/2-KG tines equals in real tomatoes, but that's why we have Google - right? And yes - you should peel your tomatoes because tomato skin in sauce is nasty.

So yes - red sauce. Yummy. Except I am a recovering carbophobe and don't really eat pasta that much so I may just make tomato pap which involves me chopping up the tomatoes (I should peel them but I am generally too lazy - however YOU should peel them for the sauce because sauce is not lazy, while pap is and YES there are too rules for random tomato recipes), tossing them with a heavy slick of olive oil, a giant heaping shovelful of chopped garlic, salt, and pepper and roasting at 425 til all mushy and garlicky-tomatoey good. I spoon this on salads (or sometimes scarf it straight out of the Tupperware), and then use the tomato-garlic flavored oil (because there should be a leftover pool of the stuff after cooking) to make salad dressing. I typically add some Dijon and balsamic and OMG so tasty.

So yes. Bring on the tomatoes kids. 'Cuz I got 1001 ways to use them.

Oh - and after posting about my Caprese on Facebook my friend Jen replied that she was bringing me fresh basil from her garden next week. Yep. Pesto baby.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


AndreAnna said...

Caprese is one of my favorites. Except I of course top it with imported Italian meats which means it loses most of its healthy meal status.

I love tomato season. Coming up with ways to eat them is always so fun.

kyooty said...

that's just way too much acid for me, but YAY! for those that enjoy them.

harmzie said...

That looks divine!

Two things:

(1) That looks like bocconcini, but you called it mozzarella. If it IS mozzarella, try subbing bocconcini (are you with me? I'm not sure I'm following this) it has the light flavour of mozza, but its texture is bliss.

(2) don't put tomatoes in the fridge EVER.

I can't grow tomatoes on my property, so I rely on the kindness of strangers, neighbours, friends and family. mmm new potatoes and non-imported corn just around the corner!

Nenette AM said...

OMG, I was going to mention bocconcini cheese!!!
Bocconcini is my fave cheese and would use it for everything if I could. I've only had Caprese with it.
But isn't bocconcini just young mozzarella anyway?!

We are infested with tomato plants, but it's the small sweet grape tomatoes. yum.