– by The Olive Oil Source Kitchen
Certain vegetables make a habit of going overboard in the garden every year – tomatoes, peppers, potatoes – you know who you are. So this month, we approach this dilemma with two variations on the same theme: simple ways to make the most of too much of a good thing with help from our close friend and fabulous cook, Bruce Miller, a frequent contributor to improving our taste buds.
Padron Peppers and Company
Have you ever tasted Padron peppers? A Spanish bar food served for munching with drinks, its unique taste is perfectly described by the popular phrase "Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non" (Galician for "Padrón peppers, some are hot and some are not).
This is the traditional preparation: toss peppers with , saute quickly over high heat so the peppers are blistered and charred in spots, toss with fleur de sel or any high quality sea salt. Serve immediately with your favorite quaff. This simple solution works equally well for fresh garden baby potatoes steamed, then grilled and tossed with oil and salt. Or try grilled baby eggplant and Jimmy Nardello sweet Italian peppers with the same preparation.
Too Many Tomatoes
Often times, simply slicing, drizzling with a pungent extra virgin olive oil, adding a twist of freshly ground sea salt and building a high platter of the many colors and flavors that heirlooms impart is the best way to enjoy them. Another option is to sun dry and preserve them in olive oil for the winter months when tomatoes with flavor are hard to find (and see Carol Firenze’s other ideas for preserving in olive oil in this issue).
One of our favorite ways to showcase heirloom tomatoes on a late summer day is with this incredibly easy-to-assemble appetizer.
Heirloom Tomato Bruschette
Makes 12-15 appetizer servings
Crusty country or French bread
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tomato, cut in half
3 cloves minced garlic
2 lbs. peeled, rough chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably Mexican for the spice it imparts)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Prepare the bruschette by cutting the bread into ½ inch slices. Grill over fire or toast under broiler until edges are crisp and brown. Remove from heat and roughly rub with garlic clove. Brush or drizzle with oil and rub with open side of tomato. Set aside while preparing the topping.
Heat oil in non-stick pan over low heat and sauté garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, vinegar and vanilla. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add the basil, cooking for one additional minute.
Mound a small amount of topping on each slice and serve warm or at room temperature.