Burst Cherry Tomatoes

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This recipe is great as a side dish, but I also like it poured on top of pasta or polenta, stirred into risotto, spread warm over toast, or chilled and spread onto your hamburgers. It’s best if the tomatoes come from your garden, but if you have a black thumb (like me) good quality, perfectly ripe market tomatoes work just as well.

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups cherry tomatoes (choose assorted colors if you can)

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Halen Mon, Cyprus flake, fiore de sal, Black Diamond, smoked salt, or a salt infused with fennel seed, basil, or chipotle

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add a third of the tomatoes, and cook, shaking gently, until they start to break their skin, about 5 minutes.   Reduce heat to medium and add another third of the tomatoes and the ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue to cook, shaking and stirring for another 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are deflated. Remove tomatoes from the pan to a dish, and return the pan to the heat.
  1. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the remaining raw tomatoes, the reserved cooked tomatoes, then cook, stirring, until the last batch of tomatoes begins to deflate. The mixture should be juicy and thick, and have a variety of tomato texture. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice and another pinch of salt Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Variations

Balsamic Tomatoes – Finish this dish with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice, add handful of basil leaves, cut in chiffonade, and finish with a grating of fresh Parmesan or some diced buffalo mozzarella.

Fennel Tomatoes – Before you burst the tomatoes, sauté a sliced fennel bulb in the olive oil with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of toasted and crushed fennel seeds. Remove it from the pan, then stir it back into the mix when the tomatoes are done. Garnish with some reserved fennel fronds.

 

 

Gremolata

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This is the world’s easiest condiment. Though traditionally an accompaniment to the Milanese classic Osso Bucco, gremolata can brighten up many dishes. I keep a jar on hand in the fridge, and use it whenever my dinner seems a bit boring. Sprinkle it over seafood, pork, game, t-bones, grilled salads , or bruschetta. I even use it to liven up pizza and pasta. You’ll find this and more in my new book,  SALT: The Essential Guide to Cooking with the Most Important Ingredient in Your Kitchen.  (You can buy it here –  B&N – and here Amazon )

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

2 cups Italian parsley leaves

1 clove garlic

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Pinch black pepper

½ teaspoon unrefined salt- try any sel gris, Fiore di Sal, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with herbs, citrus, peppercorns, caper, anchovy, red wine vinegar, red wine, za’atar, or ash

Method

  1. Combine the parsley leaves, garlic, and zest on a cutting board and mince together into a dry paste. Add the salt and pepper at the end of mincing. Store airtight in the fridge for several days, or freeze for longer storage.

Variations

Regional Differences – There are some common versions of gremolata that include the addition of anchovies, grated Romano cheese, and toasted nuts. Ratios are left up to personal taste, but the general rule is that no one ingredient should overpower any of the others.

Persillade – This is the French version, which is contains no lemon zest—just parsley and garlic. It does, however, sometimes appear with olive oil or vinegar. I’d use a French salt here.

 

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