Is this what your counter looks like when you come home from the farmers’ market?
I can never help but snatch up as many beautiful varieties of heirloom tomatoes as I can get my hands on in the summer. (But sadly, this picture is not from my house)
The Jewels of Summer
The best introduction to heirloom tomatoes that I have seen is the tomato festival at Red Fire Farm. They set up eight tasting tables with over forty varieties of tomatoes. Zebra striped, black-fleshed, totally gnarled varieties share the stage with perfect pink, dainty yellow bell, and run-of-the mill cherry tomatoes.
Since you can’t really make a meal out just tomatoes, I present a multi-course 10 minute meal perfect for serving up summer’s precious fresh tomatoes.
Don’t be afraid though, many courses does not have to mean mucho work.
What to Serve at your Tomato Fest
Here is what your shopping list would be for eight people:
- 1 tub of bocconcini mozzarella balls
- 1 bunch of basil
- 1 baguette
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 lb box of angel hair
- 3 handfuls cherry tomatoes
- 8 medium sized heirloom tomatoes (store five in the fridge, keep the rest at room temperature)
I’m assuming you have the following in your pantry. If not, make sure to pick these items up too:
- white wine
- extra virgin olive oil
- white or red wine vinegar
- garlic cloves
- pimenton (or other red chili powder)
Everything basically revolves around making the pasta sauce. The other dishes are quickly assembled in between tending to the pasta.
Start off a number of dishes at once with a few quick actions.
(mins 1-2) Break the baguette into a few pieces and soak them in a large bowl of water. Set a wide or tall pot filled with water, covered, over high heat for the pasta. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over very low heat for the pasta sauce. Cut four basil leaves chiffonade and soak in a small bowl of olive oil. Set out the basil oil and mozzarella balls on the coffee table for arriving guests.
(min 3-4) Thinly slice four cloves of garlic and add it to the pan with olive oil over low heat. Cut all of the cherry tomatoes for the pasta sauce in half and set aside. Add a cup of white wine to the garlic on the stove and turn up the heat to high.
(mins 5-6) Puree all of the gazpacho ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour the soup off into individual glasses (double shot or small beer glasses) and put them in the fridge. Add the cherry tomatoes to the white wine/garlic mixture and turn the heat to medium-low.
(mins 7-10) Wring out the water from the soaked bread. Tear it and the remaining basil into bite-sized pieces in a large serving bowl. Roughly chop the three tomatoes and the onion. Add to the bowl along with two tbsp each olive oil and vinegar and 1 tbsp each salt and pepper. Mix the panzanella and set aside.
Open a bottle of wine, and let your guests munch on mozzarella balls dipped in basil oil as they arrive.
Once everyone has gathered, bring out the gazpacho shots. Nip into the kitchen to add the capellini to the boiling water. It should only cook for a couple minutes, then drain it and mix it with the pasta sauce, in the pan.
Give people some time to digest before bringing out the panzanella.