Tomatoes Three Ways

The long hot dry summer has been detrimental to some crops but has been a boon to tomatoes.  Remember last years rain and all the crappy tomatoes we had?

I look forward to tomatoes maybe even more so than corn.  With the arrival of our first Red Hook CSA tomatoes, and some healing of my fractured scaphoid, I give you the following three tomato recipes. — Jason Adams

  • Smokey Gazpacho
  • Tomato burrata salad
  • Spaghettini with raw and cooked tomatoes

Smokey Gazpacho

Inspired by: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann

  • 5 lbs ripe tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 1 each Yellow, Red and Green peppers, cored and seeded
  • 1 cup olive oil + a bit more
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Hot smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt

This is a Spanish — from Spain — style gazpacho that can result in Keller-esque devastation of the kitchen. But the results are worth it.  Well, in my book they’re worth it. YMMV.

Prepare about 1/3 of tomatoes as “Burnt Tomatoes” a la Seven Fires as follows: The tomatoes are halved, brushed with olive oil, salted and cooked face down on a chapa. A chapa is nothing more than a well-seasoned cast iron griddle. A cast iron frying pan makes a fine substitute.

The chapa is heated on the stovetop or a barbeque or grill until a drop of water placed on the chapa dances across. When hot, place the tomatoes cut side down and leave alone for 8 to 10 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully lift/scrape the tomatoes off the chapa and set aside. The tomatoes should have a beautiful black crust on the cooked face. These are fantastic served on their own dressed with a bit of additional olive oil, salt and pepper.

Core the raw tomatoes and cut up both the raw and the burnt ones and run everything through a food mill to create a puree. Processing through a food mill avoids having to peel the tomatoes but you could peel them and then run them through the food mill to filter out the seeds. The idea here and in seeding the other vegetables is to avoid running the seeds through the blender or food processor, having them chopped up and influencing the flavor.

Place the garlic in a blender or food processor with a little of the pureed tomatoes and process until chopped fine.

Reserve about 1/4 of each pepper and 1/2 of one of the cucumbers and set aside for later garnish.

In batches as necessary, process all of the vegetables and tomato puree together in the blender or food processor. Process well and transfer to a bowl.

In batches, pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve. Do not press the puree through the sieve as this will only clog its pores and slow the process down.  Begin by gently taping the edge of the sieve against the side of your palm and then increasingly harder until all that is left in the sieve is a mass of pepper skin and tomato pulp. Discard or place the pulp in your compost pail.

In batches as necessary, place the filtered gazpacho back into the blender with the olive oil. Blend until well incorporated.  You are looking for the oil to emulsify with the gazpacho – it will turn a nice pink color. The easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender. Transfer the blended mixture back to the bowl. You should have about two quarts.

Depending on how acidic your tomatoes were, add the wine vinegar starting with about 1/3 cup.  Add salt, start with about 1-1/2 tablespoons. Add about 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 1-1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika. Stir well to combine and taste for seasoning. Let the finished gazpacho sit for a bit and recheck the seasoning – it takes a little while for the cayenne and paprika to fully integrate.  Remember that the gazpacho will be served cold so it should be very well seasoned at this point as it is at kitchen temperature, which until recently has been about 90 degrees.

Cover, place in the refrigerator and cool until well chilled.  While this is happening you can make the garnish.

Chop the reserved peppers and cucumber into 1/4″ dice.

To serve, ladle into bowls, serve with the chopped peppers and cucumber.  You can get fancy and accompany with a fried crouton and an additional dribble of olive oil.

(Sorry for the poor finished picture, but this was all that was left before I could get a picture.)

Tomato Burrata Salad

Inspired by a similar dish at Romans in Fort Green

  • One pint mixed cheery tomatoes
  • One buratta (Available at Fairway and Caputo’s)
  • One medium shallot sliced into thin rings
  • White wine or rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Good olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Chopped chives, parsley or basil

Make pickled shallots. Combine one-tablespoon sugar with three tablespoons vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Add the shallots rings and set aside – at least 15minutes. They will keep in the refrigerator for a month.

Wash and halve the tomatoes.

Open the burrata and place on a large plate, break through its skin; it’s like a large egg yoke.

Scatter the tomato halves around the burrata and a few on top.

Scatter the pickled shallots.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with some salt.

Scatter with the chives or basil.

Dig in and enjoy.

Spaghettini with Raw and Cooked Tomatoes

Inspired by a lunch with Silvio Messana

  • One lb spaghettini
  • One 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • A good handful of mixed freshly chopped fresh herbs – basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, chives, rosemary, etc.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Gated parmesan cheese

Core and coarsely chop the large tomatoes and place in a bowl along with the garlic.  Salt the tomatoes well, about
one teaspoon, add a good splash of olive oil, and about half of the chopped herbs and set aside to marinate at room temperature. The salt will cause the tomatoes to give up their juice, which will combine with the garlic and herbs to create a sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt, and add the spaghettini.  Cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cooked tomatoes.  Heat a fry pan over high heat.  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the halved cherry tomatoes, 1/4 or more teaspoon of red pepper flakes and half of the remaining chopped herbs.  Toss and cook until the tomato skins begin to soften and the pepper becomes aromatic.

Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta water. Return to the pot and toss in the raw tomato garlic sauce, the cooked tomato sauce.  Stir to combine.  Add another splash of olive oil and enough of the reserved pasta water to give some sauce to the mix.  Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.  Sprinkle on the balance of the chopped herbs and serve with the grated parmesan.

Wine pairings with raw tomatoes

This is always a tough one as the acid in the tomatoes can be a problem with high acid wines.  On the other hand, low/no acid wines like oaky chardonnays and other overripe whites will fall completely apart with these dishes. The first two dishes are somewhat delicate and take well to  crisp whites and delicate rosés, think Spanish and Italian whites and French and some Spanish rosés – like a Txakolina rosé. I enjoyed these dishes with a very nice rosé from Château Léoube.

There is a lot of talk about pairing these foods with a dry sherry, a Fino or Manzanilla. This is something I personally have not tried but I can imagine it would be interesting – the nutty richness of the sherry really expressing themselves.

The last dish can be quite garlicky and can take well to a wine having a bit more oomph. A rosé from the Tavel region of France is tailor made for this dish.


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