Tomato, Pesto and Ricotta Sandwiches
Note: The classic combination of tomato, basil and cheese found in a Caprese sandwich gets transformed into something easier to eat, and more indulgently satisfying. If you cannot find whole-milk ricotta, part-skim can be substituted, but add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil when you purée it. The pesto and whipped ricotta can each be refrigerated for up to 3 days. From Joe Yonan.
• 1 c. lightly packed basil leaves, plus a few more for optional garnish
• 1/4 c. walnuts
• 1 garlic clove
• 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 c. whole-milk ricotta (see Note)
• 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more as needed
• 4 kaiser rolls or other thin-crusted, small sub rolls or buns, halved
• 1 lb. ripe, in-season tomatoes (2 large or 3 to 4 smaller, or a combination), cored if needed, and cut into 1/2-in. slices
To make the pesto: Combine the basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese and oil in the bowl of a mini food processor; process in long pulses until combined but still chunky, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Scrape the pesto into a small bowl; clean and dry the food processor bowl.
To prepare the ricotta: Combine the ricotta and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the food processor; purée until smooth. (Or you can whisk them together by hand.) Taste and add salt as needed.
To assemble the sandwiches: Spread about 1/4 cup of the whipped ricotta on the cut side of each of the bottom roll sections. Layer on a few tomato slices and a torn basil leaf or two, if desired. Spread about 2 tablespoons of pesto on the cut side of each of the top roll sections, then invert to complete the sandwiches. Cut in half, if desired.
Garlicky Marinated Tomatoes
Serves 4 (about 2 cups).
Note: This is summer “cooking” at its best — earning those quote marks because only the marinade gets a sizzle so the tomatoes will pick up flavor from a warm bath of olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Finish with basil and you’ve got a bed for fish, chicken or eggs, or a topper for grilled bread. You can even purée the leftovers with peppers and onions for an easy gazpacho. See two flavor variations, below. The tomatoes need to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, and up to 3 hours, before serving. From cookbook author Julia Turshen.
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 small garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, each cut in half if small; cored and coarsely chopped if large
• 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
• 1 tsp. kosher salt, or more as needed
• 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Combine the oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in a small skillet over medium heat. Once the garlic starts to sizzle (about 30 seconds), pour the mixture into a mixing bowl, making sure to scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to get every little bit.
Add the tomatoes, vinegar and salt, stirring well to incorporate. Taste and add more salt, as needed (tomatoes love salt). Let the tomatoes sit for at least 15 minutes before serving or cover them and let them sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours. Right before serving, stir in the basil. The yield is about 2 cups.
Variations/ Vietnamese-Style Marinated Tomatoes: Add 1 tablespoon peeled/minced fresh ginger root to the pan along with the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Substitute fish sauce for the sherry vinegar (same amount). Just before serving, add 1 small handful each of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, mint and basil (preferably Thai basil).
Puttanesca-Style Marinated Tomatoes: Add 4 broken-up anchovies and 2 tablespoons capers to the pan along with the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Just before serving, add a large handful of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley and a large handful of pitted/chopped green or black olives.
Bulgur Salad With Spinach, Tomatoes and Herbs
Note: This versatile bulgur and vegetable salad can be served warm for more comfort appeal, or chilled for a filling yet refreshing meal. Serve it with roasted or grilled poultry or meat, or as a vegetarian main with the cheese and/or a handful of toasted nuts for protein. To cook bulgur for this recipe, boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the 1 cup of bulgur. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender. The yield is 2 to 2 1/2 cups. From cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
• 1 c. dried bulgur wheat (see Note)
• 5 oz. (2 c.) lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
• 1/4 c. chopped red onion
• 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
• 1 c. quartered grape tomatoes
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp. finely grated zest and 1 1/2 tbsp. juice (from 1 lemon)
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese, optional
Cook the bulgur according to package directions, or see the Note, above.
Combine the spinach and onion in a mixing bowl. Once the bulgur is done, fluff it with a fork then add it to the bowl, tossing until incorporated. Let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes, until the spinach is slightly wilted and the grain is no longer steaming.
Add the parsley, dill, tomatoes, oil, lemon zest and juice and the salt and pepper; toss until well coated. Scatter the feta over the top, if using. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.
Savory Tomato Cornbread Cobbler
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: This was inspired by an old-fashioned recipe for fruit cobbler. From Becky Hamill.
For the filling:
• 1 lb. mixed-variety sweet cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 tsp. hot Mexican chili powder
• 1/4 tsp. celery salt
• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
• Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime
• 1/4 c. minced green onions, plus 2 tbsp. minced tops from the green onions, for garnish
For the crust:
• 1/2 c. flour
• 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 2 tsp. baking powder
• 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 1 c. whole or low-fat milk
Place a medium (10-inch) cast-iron skillet in the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.
For the filling: Cut each tomato in half and place them in a mixing bowl, along with the garlic. Combine the chili powder, celery salt, kosher salt and cumin in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the tomatoes. Stir in the lime zest and juice and 1/4 cup of the minced green onions.
For the crust: Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Once the skillet is hot, add the butter. Watch closely; when the butter is melted and bubbling, stir the milk into the flour mixture to form a somewhat lumpy batter. Transfer the skillet to the stovetop just long enough to pour in the batter, spreading it evenly.
Immediately top with the tomato mixture. Return to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cobbler is crisped on the edges and has started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cut into wedges; serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with the minced tops of the green onions.
Summer Tomato Panzanella
Note: This Tuscan dish should be prepared only in summer, when field tomatoes are at their peak. Look for a variety of ripe heirloom varieties to give your salad color and contrasting flavors. Some like to include more bread in their panzanella, treating the torn pieces like pasta. But this version favors the seasonal fruits, making sure their flavors are front and center in both the salad and the simple vinaigrette. You can also garnish the salad with other herbs, such as mint and marjoram, but go easy on them: They can quickly overwhelm the dish. The salted tomatoes need to rest for 20 minutes.
• 3 c. packed, torn pieces sourdough bread (including crusts; from an 8-oz. loaf)
• 1/4 c. olive oil, divided
• 2 1/4 lb. ripe heirloom tomatoes, hulled and cut into bite-size wedges
• 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed
• 1 tsp. minced garlic
• 1 tbsp. minced shallot
• 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
• Freshly cracked black pepper
• 10 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into very thin slices (chiffonade)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, then drizzle them with half of the oil and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bread is dried and fragrant but not browned. Let cool.
Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a colander set over a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the tomatoes with 1 teaspoon salt; let them drain for about 20 minutes (no more), gently tossing them every few minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a serving bowl along with the cooled bread pieces; toss to incorporate. Reserve the tomato juices in their bowl; there should be a scant 1/2 cup.
Add the garlic, shallot and vinegar to those juices, then gradually whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato-bread mixture; use your clean hands to gently toss and coat. Scatter the basil over the salad; serve right away.