Appetizers/Small Plates · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Heirloom Tomato and Pesto-Ricotta Tart

September 2017 Fam Din
An heirloom tomato dish when we’re just days away from November?

I know, but work with me people…..this crazy heatwave has got all of us in California out of sorts. Monday it was 97 degrees, Tuesday it was 99 degrees and today is 92 degrees —and I live on the coast!

Mother Nature is not happy. So in the meantime, you’ll get some summer inspired recipes from me.

September 2017 Fam Din
I made this beauty for last month’s family dinner as an appetizer but it could easily serve as a main course with a nice side salad. Perhaps a peppery arugula salad? And of course, a cold and crisp glass of white wine to go along is a must.

This stunning tart is quite easy to whip together. All you need is a few ripe heirloom tomatoes, store bought puff pastry, ricotta cheese, some basil pesto and just a couple of other kitchen staples. I used some pesto I had made a few days prior, but if you prefer, store bought is fine too. Just be sure to adjust for salt as needed.

September 2017 Fam Din
One thing to note is that since you’ll be baking the tomatoes (versus some other tomato tarts that bake the puff pastry first and then top fresh tomatoes on top), you’ll want to try and get as much moisture out as possible or else you’ll get a soggy mess. Just lay them out over a bunch of paper towels after they’ve been sliced and let them chill out for a bit while you take care of everything else.

After some quick assembly and about 30 minutes in the oven, you’re done! Creamy textures from ricotta mixture, brightness from tomatoes and fresh basil–and flaky, buttery goodness from the pastry dough.

Now excuse me as I stick my head in the freezer to try and cool down…..

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Heirloom Tomato and Pesto-Ricotta Tart
Serves approximately 8

Ingredients:

1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes
2 large eggs, divided
2 heaping tablespoons basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
8 ounces ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
flour
1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets about 10 x 15 inches each)
½ tablespoon water
kosher salt
4-5 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Cut the tomatoes into approximately ¼ – ⅓ inch slices. In a single layer, place the tomatoes on top of 2-3 layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Place another paper towel on top of the tomatoes and gently press. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk 1 egg with the pesto. Fold in the ricotta, parmesan, garlic, black pepper and red pepper flakes until all items have been incorporated. Depending on your pesto, you may need to add some additional kosher salt. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, overlap one of the pastry sheets with the other by about ⅓ inch. Gently press the seams together and roll out the combined sheet to about ⅛ inch thick. You’ll want to keep the dough in the rectangle shape and then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cut a 1 inch strip off each of the four sides of the dough. Beat the remaining egg with ½ tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the sides of the large piece of dough and lay each of the four strips on the corresponding side. Gently press the dough down. Once the tart bakes, the sides will puff up.

In the interior of the dough, evenly spread the pesto-ricotta mixture. Lay the sliced tomatoes on top of the mixture, slightly overlapping each slice. Brush the exposed dough with the egg wash mixture and sprinkle salt over the tomato tart.

Bake the tart in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry dough has risen and becomes golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the tart to set for a few minutes before sprinkling the basil on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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Pizzas

Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Skillet Pizza

Burrata Caprese Skillet Pizza

It’s Monday y’all….

And yes, my struggle is real today…. yawn……

So to cope with those Monday blues, I’ve got something that will wake you up and help kick start your week – Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Skillet Pizza.

Hellooooooo Beautiful!

Burrata Caprese Skillet Pizza

It’s the final installment to my summer ode to Burrata Caprese while using my favorite way to make pizzas at home–in a cast iron skillet! The cast iron allows the pizza dough to puff up and get wonderfully crisp and slightly charred—mimicking a pizza oven. And it cooks the pizza in just a couple of minutes —WINNING!

As for the Burrata Caprese — you know how much I adore it. My other two posts featuring the combo highlighted the burrata in its fresh form. This time, I opted to add it to the pizza dough before broiling it so that it became ooey-gooey melted and creamy.

Trust me, it was the best decision I ever made! Or at the very least, the best decision I made that day. ❤

 

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Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Skillet Pizza
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced, divided
2-3 pinches kosher salt
2-3 pinches black pepper
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 large fresh basil leaves, julienned – more to garnish
5 ounces fresh pizza dough, rested and at room temperature
all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground corn meal
3 ounces fresh burrata cheese, torn into pieces
½ tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 slice prosciutto, torn into pieces

In a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, half of the garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, ½ tablespoon olive oil, and julienne basil. Set aside.

Turn on the oven broiler and adjust one of the racks to the top of the oven to rest directly under the broiler. Place a seasoned cast iron skillet (10-12 inches in diameter) directly under the broiler for 8-10 minutes. It may begin to smoke but you need the skillet to be screaming hot.

While the skillet is heating, roll out the pizza dough onto a floured surface–you’ll want it a tad smaller than the width of your skillet. If you have a pizza peal, sprinkle it with cornmeal and transfer the pizza dough onto it. If not, you can also use a wooden cutting board.

Brush the olive oil over the dough and sprinkle the remaining garlic over it. Quickly top with burrata cheese. Once the skillet has heated for the appropriate length of time, quickly and CAREFULLY slide the pizza into the skillet. Replace the skillet so it sits directly underneath the broiler.

Close the oven door and allow the pizza to cook for about 60 seconds. Open the oven door and rotate the skillet 180 degrees. Close the door and allow another 60-90 seconds underneath the broiler. Once the crust is slightly charred and cheese has melted, CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven and place it on a rack for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese, prosciutto, tomato mixture and remaining basil leaves. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, slice up and enjoy!

Pastas/Noodles · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Burrata Caprese Bucatini

Burrata Caprese Bucatini
Pasta makes this gal very, very, VERY happy.

Because, you know–carbs make the world go round.

Or does it make your belly go round?

Eh….it’s a gleeful thing either way.

Burrata Caprese Bucatini
As promised, here’s a scrumptious pasta dish that gives a big ol’ nod to my summer crush– Burrata Caprese.

It’s surprisingly light since it’s not laden with a heavy sauce and quite fresh from the heirloom tomatoes and basil. And can we talk about the burrata?

So dreamy….

Burrata Caprese Bucatini
Added bonus?

This beauty can be ready in under 15 minutes. A complete hero for weeknight meals.

Burrata Caprese Bucatini
Next up – Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Skillet Pizza!

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Burrata Caprese Bucatini 
Serves 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt
1/3 pound dried bucatini pasta (or other long strand pasta of your choice)
3 tablespoons quality extra virgin olive oil, more to finish
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes–more to finish
1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste or 2-3 anchovy fillets
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese–more to finish
black pepper
1½ heaping cup diced tomatoes*
10 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
3 ounces fresh burrata cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 7-8 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes to infuse the oil. Add in the anchovies and stir until it melts into the oil.

Toss in the cooked bucatini and cheese — coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based “sauce”, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss in the tomatoes and basil. Plate the pasta and top with burrata. Sprinkle each dish with additional parmesan, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!

*If I can find them, I like using small heirloom tomatoes as they are often times sweeter but Romas or other ripe tomatoes are just as delish. 

Vegetables/Vegetarian

Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Bruschetta

Burrata Caprese Crostini
If you pop by mi casa in the summer, you’ll always find the kitchen stocked up on fresh basil, sweet tomatoes, cheeses and charcuterie. They are my absolute go-to ingredients during the warmer months when produce is beautiful at my local farmers markets.

Summer Ingredients
That’s when I crave bright and fresh dishes that are relatively low fuss to make but still pack tons of flavor. Which means my summer lovin’ romance with Caprese kicks in again…..

Burrata Caprese Crostini
Typically caprese consists of sliced tomatoes, sweet basil and fresh mozzarella. But these days I’ve been swapping out my usual Mozzarella di Bufala with Burrata.

Burrata is also a soft Italian cheese that looks like fresh mozzarella but friends, it’s more—so much more! The exterior is made from mozz’ but then it’s formed into a round pouch and filled with a luscious mixture of cheese and cream.

It’s rich, decadent and yet somehow light at the same time. I know–magic, right?

Burrata Caprese Crostini
So magical that I’ll be sharing three different ways that you can enjoy this flavor combo. And you can be sure as heck that I added prosciutto to the party!

First up – Bruschetta.

This is the simplest of the three dishes that I’ll be sharing but I’ve got to be honest, I’ve made this at least 2-3 times a week for the past month. I’m a gal out of control but trust me–it really is that good!

Check out that cheesy goodness!

D-R-O-O-L-S.

Burrata Caprese Crostini
I like serving this on a large slice of baguette as a main dish—protein, veg, cheese and carb. Major food groups, right?

Though if you prefer to go with the appetizer routeserve them as crostini on smaller “crusts of bread”. That bite would definitely pack quite the punch.

Just be sure to have a chilled glass of vino to go along with it all.

Salute!

Burrata Caprese Crostini
Stay tuned—Burrata Caprese Bucatini  is up next!

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Burrata Caprese & Prosciutto Bruschetta
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup diced tomatoes*
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 pinches kosher salt
2-3 pinches black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 large fresh basil leaves, julienned – more to garnish
1 large slice of baguette bread, approximately 1 inch thick and 5-6 inches long
2-3 ounces fresh burrata cheese
1 slice prosciutto, torn into pieces
2 pinches red pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and julienne basil. Set aside.

Brush both sides of the baguette slice with olive oil and broil in the oven until golden brown.

Taste the tomato mixture and add additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Pile the mixture on top of the toasted baguette slice. Top the with the burrata cheese and torn prosciutto.

Drizzle the bruschetta with additional extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper. Garnish with additional basil leaves.

Enjoy!

*If I can find them, I like using small heirloom tomatoes as they are often times sweeter but Romas or other ripe tomatoes are just as delish. 

Seafood

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

It’s been non-stop for me over the past few weeks and although I’ve had a fantastic time, this gal was starting to feel a bit run down.

I needed sleep.

I needed to give my party pants a break.

And I needed to get back in my own {tiny} kitchen.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

And that’s where I was all weekend long.

Well, it was where I was after I went to the store to stock up on fresh produce because I think the only green thing I consumed over our 4-day Vegas trip was the lime in my grey goose tonic.

Gluttony is my name.

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

To fuel up for the weekend of cooking, I wanted something light but fulfilling–definitely some fish. Now my default is usually sushi or fish tacos when I get a hankering for fish but I then remembered a nearby fishmonger that I’ve been wanting to try – Catalina Offshore Products. They get their product every day directly off the boat from the fishermen — cannot get any fresher than that!

So I popped on in….drooled over all of their premium grade uni, oysters, sushi grade fish and chopped it up with some of their staff. AMAZING!!! For all of you folks in the San Diego area who may be wary about seafood—come here! They’ll put to rest any fears that you may have.

I somehow practiced some self restraint and only picked up a few fillets of their gorgeous black cod for lunch. Black cod is a tender fish that is a bit on the fattier side –think of sea bass– and incredibly delish.

I chose to pan sear the fillets because it’s quick and gives the fish a lovely crunchy crust without overcooking the meat. And the secret to pan searing fish? You’ve got to get the skillet/pan screaming hot before adding the oil and do not —let me repeat…DO NOT mess around with trying to flip the fish around a gazillion times. You’ve got to let it crisp up on the first side and then when it’s ready, meaning when you can slide a spatula underneath it without any resistance, then flip it!

Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette

Because I’m obsessed with anchovy paste lately, I decided to make a quick herby vinaigrette with anchovy paste for that much needed acidity to cut the natural fattiness of the fish. And for all of you anchovy haters — get over it! The paste adds a subtle, salty, sea flavor that I’m sure you wouldn’t guess it was anchovy if I hadn’t told you.

For reals…..

Since I was aiming for a lighter dish, I served my fish with these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that I also tossed in some of the vinaigrette. They were beautiful and sweet. But if you’re looking for a little starch — a sunchoke puree or even garlic noodles would be the bomb-diggity.

Yeah….I just went there.

The finished dish is a show stopper if I dare say so myself. Crisp and tender fish with bright acidity from the vinaigrette. And guess what? If you get your act together, this beauty can be done in 20 minutes…..25 minutes if you want to take a leisurely approach.

Fantastic if you’re having folks over or just when you want to make yourself something delish. Because let’s face it, I don’t care if you’re just learning how to cook, an intermediate cook or chef extraordinaire —the food you create should make you want to smile and do a little happy dance.

And this little number made me do both….times 100.

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Pan Seared Black Cod with Anchovy-Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
2 black cod fillets, skin-on, de-boned (5-6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine the anchovy paste, shallots, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 20 seconds. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the vinaigrette has become emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Score the skin side of each of the fish fillets and use paper towels to pat them dry. Season the fillets with kosher salt and pepper.

Choose a skillet that can handle a high level of heat (ie. cast iron, stainless steel, etc.) Heat the skillet over high heat so that it becomes screaming hot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, add the oil and swirl it around the skillet. Carefully place each fillet, skin side down into the oil. Using a spatula, gently press down on the fillets so that they don’t curl up on the sides. Toss the thyme sprigs into the oil on the side of the fish –this will help flavor the oil.

Cook the first side of the fish for about 3 minutes — depending on the thickness of the fillets. Be careful not to flip the fish before the skin has crisped up and formed a crust. Once the first side has cooked, about 2/3 way through, flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the fillets from the skillet.

Toss the tomatoes in a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Plate 1/2 of the dressed tomatoes on each plate. Top each mound of tomatoes with a cod fillet. Drizzle the fish with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Condiments/Sauces · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Caprese Sandwiches

I recently had a two week stint gorging myself on fresh, sweet, summer heirloom tomatoes. I just couldn’t help it–DELICIOUS and so colorful!

I had to take advantage of the few short weeks left of summer when these beauties are best here in San Diego and enjoyed them in salads, over pizzas, as a condiment (pico de gallo), as a light side dish and of course– in sandwiches.

Caprese Sandwiches

One of my fav go-to “salads” is Insalata Caprese which usually consists of tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and olive oil. I also like to serve them as appetizers by making little caprese skewers and use sweet grape tomatoes instead of tomato slices.

Caprese Sandwiches

For a light lunch, I grabbed a few heirlooms I had picked up earlier that morning to make Caprese Sandwiches. These sammies have all of the traditional fixins’ of Insalata Caprese with the addition of a rich and thick reduction of balsamic vinegar. The reduction adds a light sweetness and acidity to the sandwich which pairs so well with the cool tomatoes, velvety mozzarella and floral basil.

Total winner and can be whipped up Lickety- Split…..

In a jiffy……

In a blink of the eye……

In the speed of light…..

In no time flat……

……… Really fast. You get the point.

Did I mention these would be FAB for picnics?

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Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 pinches sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 ciabatta rolls, toasted (or bread of your choice)
8-10 fresh whole basil leaves, washed and dried
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
sea salt or kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, add the vinegar, sugar and chili flakes. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Continue stirring and cooking until the liquids have reduced by half and take on the a thick, syrup consistency. Be sure to watch the reduction closely as it can burn quickly. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Slice each of the toasted rolls in half. Place half of the basil leaves on the bottom piece of bread and top with a few slices of cheese. Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar reduction over the mozzarella and top with slices of tomato. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes and place the other 1/2 of the roll on top. Enjoy!