Cherry Tomatoes/Tomato Marinade
As much as l love the flavor of a perfect fresh tomato, seasoned simply with sea salt and a droplet of great olive oil, there are times when the tomatoes have not or will not reach that point of perfection and l use this recipe at those times.
l do love this recipe best with cherry tomatoes as l find them occasionally a bit tough or acidic at times and this helps in both cases. When l use regular tomatoes for this recipe l cut them either in wedges of slices, lay them out in a pyrex or flat sided tray and pour the marinade over the top of them.
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes (or 6 Ripe Tomatoes), Halved;
2 TBS Sherry, Balsamic or Good Red Wine Vinegar;
Juice of ½ Lemon;
3 TBS Good Quality Olive Oil (if you have a nice Extra Virgin Olive Oil, this is a good recipe to splurge with it on);
10 Leaves Fresh Basil, cut in Chiffonade (thin strips) or 2 TSP Freshly snipped Chives;
2 Good Pinches Sea Salt;
3-4 Grinds from a Pepper Mill
Toss the cut cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice,salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for at least an hour, add the basil (this is best cut just before adding) or chives and serve alongside or over dressed salad greens.
lf you are using whole tomatoes, assemble the marinade in a bowl and pour over the tomatoes. Add the herb(s) just before serving.
When l can find good bread in these parts, or if l have time to bake my own, l love to serve variations on crostini alongside my soups or salads. Crostini means, literally, “little toasts” and they are made by simply slicing a baguette or other slender bread into thin lengths and toasting them. l like to drizzle the untoasted crostini with a few drops of the oil from my roasted garlic before putting them into the oven for a few minutes to crisp.
All of the above condiments can be chopped and pureed to spread on crostini, and l am particularly fond of the the purees made from the marinated frijoles tiernos served alongside the roasted chilled tomato soup, for example; or the roasted red peppers pureed, spread on the toasted crostini and served alongside the bright green spinach soup.
There are two spreads that l make just for crostini because l feel that they are a wonderful compliment to the freshness of just dressed organic greens. One of the spreads is a goat cheese/roasted garlic/green herb spread and the other is a classic Pesto.
Goat Cheese/Roasted Garlic/Green Herb Spread
4 Ounces Fresh and crumbly goat cheese, set out at room temperature;
8 Cloves Roasted Garlic plus 1 TBS of the roasted garlic oil;
2 TBS Chopped Mixed Green Herbs (chive, garlic chive, tarragon, parsley, basil);
1 -2 TBS Buttermilk or regular milk
Place the softened goat cheese, the roasted garlic and its oil and the herbs in the food processor and pulse until the cheese is starting to smooth and turn green from the herbs. Check for density and softness (you want it to be spreadable), add 1 TBS of buttermilk and pulse the goat cheese mixture. If it feels soft enough to spread on a crisp crostini scrape it out of the processor, and if not, add another TBS of buttermilk and pulse the machine again.
The word Pesto is derived from the Italian word for pestle, as in mortar and pestle, and for generations it has been a disgrace to make pesto any other way than toiling over the pestle, pounding the herbs, garlic and oil together by hand. Since I don’t have an Italian nonna looking over my shoulder, I make my pesto in a food processor and since l have don’t have easy access to the classic pinenuts that are used in Italy, I use sliced blanched almonds.
2 Cups Tightly Packed Basil Leaves;
4-6 Cloves Peeled and Chopped Garlic;
¼ Cup Sliced Blanched Almonds;
2/3 Cup Good Olive Oil;
¼-1/2 Cup Good Parmesan, grated;
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Put the basil, garlic and almonds in the food processor with some salt and pepper and pulse grind for 30 seconds. With the machine running, pour in half the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Turn off the processor and add the grated cheese. Turn the machine back on and add the rest of the oil in a steady stream. The pesto should be a bit chunky. Taste for salt and pepper. Pack the pesto into a plastic container (or freeze in a Ziploc bag) and press clear wrap tight up against the pesto to prevent discoloration. I do recommend freezing any pesto you do not intend to use immediately as freezing will hold the lovely bright green color.