Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Non-Salmonella Tomatoes

Hi Allison! I had to post again, if only to tell you about a recent trip to the bookstore, where I saw this lovely journal in the blank paper section. It's true, we can never escape the Pre-Raphaelites! I'm sure the irony of this journal doesn't escape you... since the Lady of Shalott's destiny is to float down the river to Camelot... and die... yeah, whoever made this journal probably didn't think about that.

ANYWAY. That wasn't the only thing I found at the bookstore. I also found something marvelous and exciting, something I actually purchased. None other than Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's new cookbook, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. Can I just tell you how much I love this book? It's not only full of tempting-looking recipes, but also little tidbits of food knowledge and new techniques... for example, there's a section on how to teach yourself to cook without measuring spoons. Although this isn't a totally vegetarian cookbook, there is a big section of vegetarian entrees, plus lots of good-looking side dishes, salads, desserts and pasta dishes.

The first meal I tried was pesto risotto and tomato salad. The risotto was good, although it would have been better if I had been able to find fresh basil. I ended up using freeze-dried basil which was kind of like space food... and tasted a little bit like it. Luckily the onions and parmesan cheese compensated for that.

The outstanding part of the meal was this tomato salad. I made this before everyone in the country was convinced that tomatoes were carriers of disease--so I made it with plain old grocery store tomatoes, not even organic, definitely not ripe-on-the-vine. And it was still SO GOOD. I imagine that if you make this salad with actual good tomatoes it would be amazingly, unbelievably good. And I don't even like tomatoes.

Big Tomato Sweet-Sour Salad
(From The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift)


1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 med red onion, thin sliced lengthwise into long strips
salt and fresh-ground black pepper
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tight-packed tablespoons brown sugar

4 or so big ripe tomatoes (non-salmonella-ridden preferable)

1/2 cup light-packed coarse-chopped fresh dill leaves

Make That Salad!

1. To make the dressing, first pour the vinegar into a small sauce-pan and boil it down to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes, set aside.

2. In a 10-inch skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Stir in the onion, sprinkling it with a little salt and a generous amount of pepper. Saute for a minute, or until the onion is softened but not browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute. You want to soften the garlic but not brown it. Pull the skillet off the heat and blend in the brown sugar to melt it. (You can set the dressing aside at this point for several hours, or refrigerate it it for up to a week)

3. Put the tomatoes into a large serving bowl. When you are ready to serve, warm up the onion mixture if needed--it should be warm, not hot. Pull the pan off the heat, and stir in the boiled-down vinegar and any liquid from the tomatoes. Carefully (the dressing could be quite hot) taste for seasoning and sweet-tart balance. Pour it under the tomatoes, folding in the dill.

4. Serve, warm or room temp. I ate this over romaine lettuce and it was delicious!

NOTE: According to the recipe, this can be made with bacon fat instead of olive oil but, for obvious ideology-related reasons, I wouldn't recommend that.

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