The salads we make at home are so simple that they never make it to the blog.  A little bit of slicing and dicing, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and nothing else. But this recipe from a recent issue of  Food and Wine, is definitely worth talking about. I had never sautéed nuts to add flavor to a vinaigrette, and was amazed by the outcome. I adapted the original recipe to include Neo, the single cucumber  produced in our backyard. You know, The One. We are good at biochemistry, my friends. Or so we hope. Gardening? Not so much…

tomato almond

(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil, in chiffonade

In a medium skillet, cook the almonds in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about
 7 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; reserve the almonds for the salad. Immediately whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and agave nectar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Allow it to cool to close to room temperature.

Spread the tomato and cucumber slices on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.  On a serving platter, scatter half of the almonds 
and top them with 
the tomato and cucumber slices. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the remaining almonds and fresh basil.  Serve right away. 


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first adjective that came to my mind when I tasted the salad was “intense.”  The toasted almond flavor permeating through the oil is a real game-changer. Other nuts could be used instead. Consider  a macadamia, pistachio, perhaps a hazelnut version. I must make it again soon to profit from summer tomatoes, still so juicy and delicious. Not much hope for another homegrown cucumber, but there’s always next year…  Next time I will slice the cucumber a bit thinner. Other than that, it is a winner.  If you check the original recipe in Food and Wine, you’ll notice it called for several types of fresh herbs, but I only had basil around, so that’s what went into it.  I already feel the sadness of summer leaving us. Might as well make batches of tomato salad while we can. With a tissue nearby in case I get too emotional…

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette, Bewitching Kitchen

Grab a pin and share away…


ONE YEAR AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

TWO YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

THREE YEARS AGO: Apple-Cinnamon Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry Galette

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

SIX YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner





One of my favorite food blogs is “Just a Smidgen”, from the lovely Barbara, a poet, mother, cellist, great cook, and superb photographer.  Each of her posts is a work of art, with carefully chosen words, and photos that will make you dream.  And, to top it all, everything she cooks makes my mouth water…   Last month she had this tomato tart featured on her blog, and since heirloom tomatoes insist on jumping in my grocery cart,  I immediately added it to my Pinterest cooking board for future reference.   Contrary to what usually happens, I made it right away, it was simply irresistible!

(adapted from Just a Smidgen)

1 package puff pastry, defrosted (use one half for the tart)
5 to 6 heirloom tomatoes
olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 container of bocconcini mozzarella, drained (200g / 7 to 8 ounces)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/8 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 egg

Heat oven to 400° F.

Roll out one sheet of puff pastry directly on a piece of parchment paper until it is about an 11” x 14” rectangle. Take a fork and poke holes all over the pastry, leaving a one-inch border all around. Using the palm of your hands, gently roll up to form a border of dough.

Within that border, spread the tomato sauce evenly then add the mozarella pearls over the top.

If your tomatoes are too juicy, slice them and place over paper towels to drain the excess moisture. Place them over the tart, overlapping slightly. Use different colors and sizes, it is supposed to be a rustic-looking tart.

Sprinkle with the herbes the Provence. Finish by sprinkling the grated Parmigiano over the surface of the tart.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a drizzle of water to make a wash. Brush this egg mixture on the border of the pastry.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the puff pastry has risen and lightly browned, but start checking the bottom of the tart after 20 minutes, as depending on the moisture of your tomatoes, it could be ready earlier.

Cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature, cut in squares.


printable version available soon

Make sure to stop by Smidge’s blog to look at her gorgeous photos of the making of this tart.  The use of bocconcini mozzarella pearls was a nice touch. Although they may seem a bit bulky to lay on the tart,  they’ll melt into a thing of pure beauty and enticing creaminess, in a perfect marriage with the heirloom tomatoes.  Let me remind you once more:  if using overly juicy tomatoes, drain  the slices and pat them dry.  They will release more liquid during baking, so there will be no risk of ending with a dried up topping.

I hope there is no penalty for a blog with too many heirloom tomato recipes.  If there is, I’m in trouble, because there will be more, I’m afraid…  😉

Barbara, thanks for a great recipe!

ONE YEAR AGO:  A Tropical Street Market

TWO YEARS AGO: Groceries

THREE YEARS AGO:  A Souffle to Remember Julia Child


I fell in love with heirloom tomatoes this year, and my passion only intensifies the more I use them.  Get a bunch of tomatoes, of all colors and shapes you can find.  Dice them, keep the skin and the seeds.  This is a simple dish.  Refreshing, absolutely perfect for a 110 F day (that is 43 C, folks!).   Actually, I am not complaining: my Brazilian nature takes the heat with poise, dignity,  and uncooked pasta sauces.  😉

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup uncooked orzo
3-4 heirloom tomatoes, diced
kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely diced
fresh parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
splash of white balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese
lemon zest to taste (optional)

Start by making the relish:  mix in a bowl the diced tomatoes, olives, season with salt and pepper, add the olive oil, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir occasionally as you boil the water to cook the orzo.

Cook the orzo according to the package instructions.  Drain, add it to the fresh tomato mixture, mix the parsley, add the crumble feta on top, and mix gently, no need to try to fully incorporate it.  Serve with a nice sprinkle of fresh lemon zest on top, if desired.


to print the recipe, click here

This dish is all about the contrast between hot orzo and cold relish.  I would have added capers if our bottle was not 312 miles away in another kitchen.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what is where. Often while at a grocery store  in Manhattan we are sure to have something already in the fridge, and we sure do, but the fridge in question is in Norman… and vice-versa.  The bottom line: if you have capers, add them.  Leftovers are great cold too.

And now, for something completely different (great show, BTW)…  We are often concerned with the quality of the ingredients we use in our cooking, right? Let me now share with you something  equally important: the kind of labor involved in bringing an ingredient to your table.  Please jump here for a very informative article published in “Not Without Salt” and learn what may be hiding behind the gorgeous tomatoes you bring home.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

TWO YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

THREE YEARS AGO: Love me tender…


Ideally, my Wednesday special meal will catch Phil by complete surprise, but this time he had been snooping around the depths of our fridge. Just as I was getting ready to cook dinner, he asked me with a big smile “we’re having scallops tonight for dinner, aren’t we?”.  Bummer. Just could not get him this time.

I had the inspiration for this meal when I brought home a couple of heirloom tomatoes, and was blown away by how juicy and delicious they were.  I went right back to the store and bought some more.    They turned into a fantastic sauce, paired with leeks and a thinly sliced fennel bulb.  Scallops crowned the meal with their touch of class, always welcome. Another Wednesday evening made ultra-special!

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 Tbsp olive oil (+ a little more for searing scallops)
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, frowns reserved
3 to 4 heirloom tomatoes, depending on their size
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
8 sea scallops
¼ tsp ground fennel
spaghetti, or pasta of your choice

Boil the water to cook the pasta.

Core the tomatoes and cut them in large chunks, but don’t seed them.  Reserve.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then saute the leeks and the sliced fennel for about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.  When they are soft and starting to get some golden color, add the tomatoes and half the orange zest. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to melt and release a lot of juice.  Cover the pan, and keep at a simmer.

Cook the pasta, and when it’s 5 minutes from being ready, heat a non-stick skillet on high heat, add olive oil just to coat the surface lightly.  Pat the scallops dry, season lightly with salt, pepper and ground fennel, and sear them, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Reserve some of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add to the tomato/fennel pan, increase the heat slightly, and let the pasta and the sauce cook for a minute or so together. If needed, add some of the pasta water to the sauce.  Add the remaining orange zest, the scallops on top, and sprinkle with minced fennel fronds right before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

If you make this dish with “regular” tomatoes, it simply won’t be the same, so try to find these funky looking babies, they are superb, particularly the brown ones.  We could not get over the flavor of this dish, so few ingredients, but they work together beautifully, and the scallops (make sure you get a nice sear on the outside) are not overpowered by the sauce.

Normally I reserve the pasta water to adjust the consistency of a pan sauce, but in this case it was not necessary to add any.   The tomatoes did their job providing all the moisture to coat the pasta strands.

If you don’t like scallops,  shrimp could be a good option, or chicken breast filets.  If you want to keep it vegan,  maybe grilled tofu could work too.  But don’t mess with the heirloom tomatoes!

ONE YEAR AGO: Pain de Provence

TWO YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine