Broiled Striped Cavern Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Striped cavern tomatoes are briefly broiled, then drizzled with a white balsamic vinaigrette and topped with ricotta salata, fresh basil and fennel pollen.  Garlic butter-fried croûtons on the side..

Broiled Striped Cavern Tomatoes with Ricotta Salata and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3-4 oz tablespoons best quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen
1 teaspoon fresh green basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh purple basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
pinch of sea salt & a twist of freshly-ground black pepper
1 scallion, slivered

1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 thick slice bread, crusted and cubed

2 fresh striped cavern tomatoes
fresh basil leaves for garnish

2 oz ricotta salata (a pressed, salted and dried variety of sheep’s milk cheese), cut or torn into small pieces

Core and split the tomatoes across the equator.  Place in a heat-proof pan and broil until they turn brilliant red, about 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Combine the vinegar, fennel pollen, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Whisk in the olive in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated.  Stir in scallions, basil and oregano and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add the bread cubes and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a dish to drain.

To assemble, arrange two tomato halves on a chilled salad plate.  Scatter ricotta and croûtons around the tomatoes and drizzle liberally with vinaigrette.  Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.

Summer Squash Spaghetti with Lemon Aillade and Ricotta Salata

Seasonal zucchini and yellow squash is combined with lemon aillade, slivered spring onions, fresh basil and oregano. Topped with broiled garden tomatoes, baby carrots and raw olive oil-marinated ricotta salata.  Crunchy sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper..

Summer Squash Spaghetti with Lemon Aillade and Ricotta Salata

For the Aillade

3 cloves garlic
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
pinch cayenne
1 pastured egg yolk
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Peel and mince the garlic, then transfer to a mortar with the salt and crush into a paste.  Add the egg yolk, garlic and salt to a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

Whisking continuously (use an electric mixer if you prefer), add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it reaches a mayonnaise-like consistency.  Add the lemon juice the same way, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.

To Prepare

Dress tomato wedges and baby carrots with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and broil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, toss fine julienne of zucchini and yellow squash (raw or blanched & shocked as you prefer), slivered onions and chopped fresh basil and oregano with lemon aillade.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Arrange “spaghetti” on a plate and top with broiled tomatoes, carrots and cheese.  Garnish with additional fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts if desired.

This post is part of Meatless Monday!

Phở bò tái

Originating in northern Vietnam, Phở (Pho, pronounced fuuh) is a Chinese and French-influenced soup of carefully-crafted beef stock flavored with roasted ginger, star anise, coriander and cinnamon.  It is typically served with rice noodles, thinly-sliced beef, lime and fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil and mint.

I followed Steamy Kitchen’s recipe, and thoroughly enjoyed the results..

Phở (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup)

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Green Garlic-Fried Croutons

Fresh tomatoes are roasted then simmered in vegetable stock with sweet peppers and fresh basil, then topped with green garlic-fried croûtons, Asiago cheese and a drizzle of fruity, raw olive oil.

Roasting intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes, roasted yellow pepper adds sweetness and the fried green garlic adds a mellow bite.  Plenty of black pepper, fresh basil, olive oil and sharp cheese tie it all together..

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup with Green Garlic-Fried Croûtons, Asiago & Raw Olive Oil

3 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, divided
1 1/2 cups strong, homemade vegetable stock
1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, blistered
3-4 bulbs green garlic plus a little of the green tops, slivered
handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonade-cut, divided
good quality raw olive oil
day-old sprouted wheat bread, cubed
1 tablespoon pastured butter
Asiago or Parmesan cheese, grated
coarse sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper

Wash and core tomatoes. Cut a small x at the pointed end of half of the tomatoes and plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds.  Allow to cool enough to handle, then slip the skins off, dice the tomatoes and add to a heavy pot along with the vegetable stock. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until reduced and darkened, about 30-40 minutes.

Broil the other half of the tomatoes with the bell pepper until blistered and somewhat blackened.  Place on a plate, cover with an inverted bowl and allow to steam for 5 minutes.  Once cool enough to handle, slip most of the skin from the tomatoes, chop and add to the soup pot.  Peel and dice the peppers and add to the along with 3/4 of the basil.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add bread cubes and green garlic and fry until the croûtons are golden brown.  Sprinkle the croûtons with the grated cheese while still hot, then scoop the green garlic into the soup.  Simmer uncovered 15 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with warm croûtons and reserved fresh basil.

Ventresca with Green Garlic-Tomato Concassé and Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise

In celebration of the fact that the temperature was in the 60’s today and we’re still getting fresh tomatoes here(!), I decided to toss up a summery plate of Ventresca (sustainably line-caught yellowfin tuna bellies) with green garlic-tomato concassé, lemon-caper mayonnaise, balsamic glaze and a relish of roasted peppers, black olives and fresh herbs..

Ventresca with Green Garlic-Tomato Concassé and Lemon-Caper Mayonnaise

For the Concassé

1-2 bulbs green garlic, including tops, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, preferably from the Ventresca tin
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Very slowly soften green garlic in olive oil over low heat, then add tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper and continue to warm until softened.  All to cool in mesh strainer, reserving the oil for the mayonnaise.

For the Mayonnaise

6-8 oz reserved olive oil
1 small pastured egg yolk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baby capers, mashed
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
saffron threads, soaked

Soak the saffron threads in 1 teaspoon of cold, filtered water for 15 minutes, then whisk together with the lemon juice, egg yolk and salt.  Add the oil in a very thin stream, whisking continuously to form an emulsion.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

For the Relish

2 tablespoon roasted and pickled bell peppers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon ripe black olives, pitted and slivered
1 teaspoon fresh chiffonade-cut basil

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Balsamic Glaze

1/2 cup aceto balsamico tradizionale

Using a double boiler to prevent scorching, reduce unadulterated balsamic vinegar until reduced in volume by about half.  The resulting syrup will thicken as it stands.

To assemble, spoon tomato concassé onto a serving plate, then top with a layer of Vetresca and dress with mayonnaise.  Add a second layer of concassé, tuna and mayonnaise and top with roasted pepper relish.  Dab the plate with balsamic glaze and finish the dish with coarse sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.