Tomato Time Two
This season’s crop of tomatoes will be gone well before I’ve had my fill, so I’ll try to include them in at least part of every dinner I serve for the next few weeks.
For a striking presentation, spread a variety of heirloom tomato slices (yellow, orange and purple, not just red) on a platter, sprinkle with cut cherry tomatoes, goat or blue cheese crumbles and leaves of basil (a common theme at this time of year). Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and oil and season with salt and pepper.
An old favorite among the Silver Palate crowd, the tomato and Brie pasta dish is a winner, exploding with an array of flavors on the tongue, from the soft, melted texture of the cheese to the powerful bite of the raw garlic. The earlier in the day you make the sauce, the deeper and more flavorful the result. Chop lots of garlic (8 cloves is not too many!) and several shallots, and put them in a big serving bowl. Add a half-cup of olive oil, cover with saran wrap and set aside. An hour or so before you want to eat, halve dozens of cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl along with torn basil leaves and bite-sized pieces of Brie cheese. At dinnertime, cook a batch of your favorite pasta and toss with the room-temperature sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan at the table.
Bruschetta is a terrific party food and it’s fun to offer your guests a choice. (When their mouths are full, it won’t even matter if they know the proper Italian pronunciation of this appetizer.) Toast or grill slices of pain de compagne (Farm to Market makes a French Farm bread that works beautifully and is available in most grocery stores) that have been brushed with olive oil. Spread with mashed roasted garlic cloves and oven-roasted tomatoes. Or try one with pesto and fresh mozzarella. Warm in a 350-degree oven until the cheese melts, and add a halved cherry tomato on top before serving.