Suzi's Blog

Zucchini, Tomato, Onion, Ricotta Salata and Bread Salad

2013-09-26 20.14.15

Oh, it’s winter and grilling is something you probably cannot conceive of. For this salad, you need grilled veggies but you can do this indoors. Your stove may have a grilling section, or you can buy a simple grilling surface to fit over your regular burners.

Why now, in the middle of winter? This salad is bright, filled with flavor and those grilling smells inside your kitchen will spread cheer on the coldest of days. This “salad” is perfect for a main course. On a football Sunday, you can offer up a bowl of bread salad and let folks serve themselves, grab a beer, and return to that television showing grown men pound each other into oblivion. Let those gridiron gladiators fight away. You can indulge away on these dashing flavors while your football heroes dash about on snowy or rainy fields.

 

Zucchini, Tomato, Onion, Ricotta Salata and Bread Salad

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • ½ large sweet onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large yellow zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 large green zucchini, halved
  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes of mixed colors, cored and cut into large dice
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread (8 to 10 oz)
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup fresh summer savory
  • 2 ounces ricotta salata

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup aged sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons summer savory
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

 Preparation:

—– GRILL THE VEGETABLES —–

In a large bowl, toss the sweet onions and peppers with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the zucchini with some of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

 

Preheat a barbecue or stove top grill to medium-high heat. Place the zucchini halves cut-sides down on the grill. Spread the onions and peppers around the zucchini in a single layer. Grill the vegetables, turning them often, until charred and softened, about 5 minutes for the onions and peppers and slightly longer for the zucchini. Cut the peppers and zucchini crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

—– MAKE THE DRESSING —–

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, savory, parsley, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

—– MARINATE THE VEGETABLES —–

Add the grilled vegetables and tomatoes to the bowl with the dressing. Adjust seasonings. Set aside.

 

Trim the crust off the bread and cut into 1-inch slices. Brush each slice with olive oil. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill the bread, turning once, until browned and crisp on both sides.

—– ASSEMBLE THE SALAD —–

Add the onion and savory leaves to the marinated vegetables. Place a piece of toast in the middle of each plate. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the plates. Shave the ricotta salata over the salad.

Alternatively, the bread can be chopped and mixed in with the vegetables.

Source: Bistro Laurent Tourondel

 

Heirloom Tomato Jam with Lemon from Miriam Rubin

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I was in an upscale cheese store in Midtown. A great store we know well. A jar labeled “Tomato Jam” caught my eye. I knew that I could convince Suzen to take it home since it said “tomato” and the “jam” part would just slip past her. Particularly if I mumbled over the right syllable. I was home free.

Before I put it into my shopping basket, I was just curious about how much? I turned the jar over. Adjusted my glasses. Then adjusted my jaw. Carefully, oh so carefully, did I rest that $14 bottle of jam back atop the stack. I spend money, but I have limits.

I sought out my wife. Suzen was inspecting a counter of blue cheeses, figuring what to buy. “Something from Oregon?” she asked me.

“Anything, sweetie,” I answered with a pant that caught her eye. “You’re not going to believe what I just saw.”

We fled in shock and awe. We went from that cheese store to a farmers market a few blocks away, bought tomatoes and determinedly bent our way home. We made our own jam: 4 half-pint jars for maybe $12. This jam is beautiful to behold and tangy on the tongue.

We owe this financial relief to our friend Miriam Rubin and her new book Tomatoes. I suppose “heirloom” is one of those trigger words. Is it really “heirloom” or just an adjective put on to pull me in? We know Miriam researched and tested her recipes with laser precision. It’s heirloom and a gem and something you want to try.

The publisher of the book, the University of North Carolina Press, had not expected me to blog this recipe but has kindly allowed me to do so. This book is from their Savor the South series. You can get more information about the book by visiting: http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/10104.html

If, if you have that pause about making jam and having to sterilize the lids and what happens if you mess up and … Relax. This jam is made, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator. You can run your jam jars through the dishwasher on the high heat cycle. Or, just do what we do: use a big sauce pan filled with water and boil the jars for 5+ minutes while you are tending to the tomatoes. It’s less angst that you think and you’re going to smile at the first bite.

How have we served this jam? As party appetizers with goat cheese on small slices of toasted, homemade bread. With Bourbon on the rocks. Hey, the book says “Savor the South!”

Heirloom Tomato Jam with Lemon

Yield: 3-4 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purple, Bandywine, or Delicious, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces [about 5 ½ cups]
  • 2 medium lemons, preferably organic, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation:

Put the tomatoes and lemon slices in a large, heavy, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with a potato masher. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Sir in the sugar, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and skimming off any foam, until thick, about 30 minutes. Stir in the 3 tablespoons lemon juice and cook until thickened and jamlike, 5-8 more minutes. Taste, and if it’s too sweet, add 1-2 tablespoon more lemon juice and return to a full boil

Spoon immediately into clean, hot half-pint jars and fit the jars with 2-pieced lids. Let cool, then refrigerate the jam until ready to serve.

Source: From TOMATOES: a Savor the South® cookbook by Miriam Rubin. Copyright © 2013 by Miriam Rubin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press: www.uncpress.unc.edu