The tomatoes keep coming. I have canned three separate batches, froze some sauce and now have a third bowl that I must deal with before I leave the house today. These tomatoes were given to mother and me by my aunt on my recent visit to Western New York, and are some of the most beautiful I have seen this season: medium-sized tear-drop shape, deep red and very sweet. When home, I was inspired to use these beauties to make a tomato tart (from a Bon Appetit recipe a week or so ago) and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. I do plan on tweaking this recipe a bit, but it disappeared rather quickly, so I won’t change it too much – here are the details!
In a cast iron skillet I melted a quarter stick of butter and a 1/4 cup of sugar and let it all melt together and start to turn brown. I drizzled about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let that reduce for a minute. I tossed in a few leaves of torn basil and a teaspoon of salt. Next I filled the pan with those gorgeous tomatoes, cut in half and placed cut-side down, letting these cook down and caramelize for 15 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Once the tomatoes were soft, I placed a round of pie dough on top and tucked in the edges around the tomatoes. The original recipe (which I’ve deviated from quite a bit) called for puff pastry, which I didn’t have, and might work better. I baked this until the pie dough was browned (about 20 minutes) in a 425 degree oven. Once I took this out, I let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so and then loosened the dough, put a plate to the bottom of the skillet and inverted the whole pan. In truth, some of the tomatoes stuck a bit, but it was easy to recreate and looked quite beautiful – especially drizzled with a touch of high quality balsamic and a few more torn leaves of tomato.
Is it a dessert? A side dish? An appetizer? I don’t know. But it was all delicious.
I didn’t know what to do with the pea tendrils from the farm share. I was told to “fry them up”, but I tried that last year and they weren’t that tender (despite their name). So, last night I came up with something new. I took off the top half (smaller leaves, more delicate stalk) and threw them (about 1 1/2 loosely packed cup’s worth) in the cuisinart with a large chopped clove of garlic and about half as much basil. With the motor on, I drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper as if I were making regular pesto. I also added my last tablespoon of pine nuts and served it atop a mound of baked spaghetti squash (halved, roasted in a dish with water), but it would be great on any (real) pasta, or dabbed on local wild scallops as I’m having tonight.
This pesto is a bit lighter and brighter tasting than straight up basil. I think I might try making pesto with the bottoms and mint and just a small clove of garlic, maybe serving them up with lamb chops from the meat share. Yum.
I’ve been craving seafood lately, but with my bounty of veg from the farm share, farmer’s market and my garden, I rarely had to go to the grocery store (yea!). However, that meant that without a special trip I wouldn’t be able to satisfy my shellfish itch. So, I figured I would stop by Whole Paycheck and pick up a few staples while perusing their seafood section, which is well-labeled with sustainable local and wild catch options.
Luckily I found some (rather expensive) locally caught scallops. I bought only 8 of them – richer flavor equals needing less to satisfy.
For dinner I heated some olive oil (but you could use local butter) in a cast iron skillet and tossed in the salt and pepper seasoned scallops. After no more than 2 minutes I flipped them, and then took them out 2 minutes after that. These were large scallops – 8 of them was about 3/4 lb – so the time would be even shorter with smaller scallops. You definitely don’t want to overcook.
For the pesto sauce I threw celery leaves, dill and a bit of leftover basil leaves into the processor (but you could use whatever fresh herb odds and ends from your garden or fridge) with 2 cloves of fresh garlic. I drizzled in olive oil until it was the consistency I liked, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I like to squeeze half of a lemon in as well for brightness. Drizzle over the scallops and serve – perhaps with a nice caprese?