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Tag Archives: tomatoes

Zucchini and Egg Hash on Brioche Toast

6 Sep

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It is a commonly heard joke that, come the end of summer, you can’t safely answer the knocking at your door without running the risk of being met with an enormous bag of zucchini that someone is trying to trust upon you. If you see a neighbor crossing the street and attempting to flag you down while clutching a suspicious bulge of something or other in the hem of his or her shirt, your gut instinct is to run in the other direction. There is zucchini in that shirt! Run away, before you are made to accept it out of sheer politeness! Except if you are me, of course, in which case you will meet your neighbor halfway across the street, arms outstretched in anticipation of getting your hands on more garden fresh zucchini. Zucchini fritters, zucchini spears with Parmesan, grilled zucchini, zucchini in pakoras, and, of course, all varieties of zucchini bread—I wait all year to have enough zucchini at my disposal that I can cook with it nearly every day.

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We always grow zucchini in our garden, but this summer, what with all of the traveling we were going to be doing, we planted a very small, modest, and manageable garden. This garden consisted of a few tomatoes, a pot or two of herbs, and absolutely no zucchini. When we got back from traveling, I fully anticipated at least one person to begin unloading their garden zucchini spoils on us—in fact, I was very much looking forward to it—but it never happened. I briefly considered turning the tables on my neighbors, knocking on their doors and politely inquiring on the status of their zucchini population, but because I did not want my neighbors to begin thinking of me as, how to put this gently, completely nuts, I quickly abandoned the idea. Thus far, the only zucchini I’ve been gifted has come from my in-laws, two people who know how to grow a great garden.

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My in-laws are also avid cooks, so we often take the opportunity to discuss how we like to experiment with different foods and ingredients. My husband’s mother was telling me about a great way to cook zucchini as a sort of hash, shredded, sautéed, then lightly seasoned. I was immediately interested. I can’t remember who brought up the idea of putting an egg on top of the hash, but I do remember that I was the person responsible for immediately wanting to place the concoction on top of a piece of lightly toasted bread. It only took until the next day before I brought all of the ideas for this dish together: shredded, lightly crisped zucchini with a soft-cooked egg nestled within, placed on a piece of thick-cut brioche, and sprinkled with a generous serving of chopped garden tomatoes. Just in time for the end of summer, it’s the perfect way to celebrate your garden’s crop of delightful excess.

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Last Year: Fruit Crisp Made on the Grill, Grill-Roasted Lemon Rosemary Potatoes, and Pane Coi Sante, Bread of Saints

Zucchini and Egg Hash Over Brioche Toast

2 cups shredded zucchini (from 1 large or 2 small zucchini)

¼ cup thinly sliced onion

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 or 3 eggs (2 if your eggs are large, 3 if your eggs are rather small)

2 slices of thick-cut brioche, lightly toasted

1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped

Place zucchini in a clean dishtowel, and squeeze tightly until a great deal of the zucchini’s juice is released. Alternately, you can just grab small handfuls of the zucchini in your hands and squeeze until the juice runs out, but some people may find this method a bit too barbaric (but not me—you have my full permission to proceed as you wish).

Heat olive oil in a medium pan set over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions, and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds, while stirring. When the onions have just started to lose some of their stiffness, add the zucchini, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium, and sauté zucchini and onion, stirring occasionally, until dry and slightly browned, anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate. Form two (or three) small nests within the zucchini, then crack an egg into each nest. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low, and allow the eggs to cook until they reach your desired doneness.

Place a piece of brioche toast on a plate, top with half of the zucchini hash (making sure to include an egg, of course), sprinkle over a bit of chopped tomato, and add a touch more salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

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White Bean and Tomato Bruschetta

9 Aug

My best friend recently had a baby, her second, and lately I have been spending a pleasingly large amount of time over at her house. While she readjusts to life with an infant, I stand beside her and offer whatever assistance I can, mainly in the form of handing her things when she runs out of arms to complete the task herself. This dance of ours is not unlike that of a surgeon and the nurse assisting her in surgery. Diaper? Diaper. Extra wipes? Extra wipes. Coffee? Oh, yes. Coffee!

Aside from the coffee (consumed in only moderate amounts, for those of you who might be prone to concern), we have also been taking part in some delightful light lunches. Sitting in the kitchen while her son sleeps, my best friend and I swipe crackers in to hummus, top slices of bread with egg salad, and wrap big leaves of crisp lettuce around chicken salad with chutney. The conversation and company is always wonderful, but the lunches always seem to cement the reason why we are best friends. Nowhere else will you find two other people whose most favorite meal structure happens to be a composition of bits of things piled on top of other bits of things.

It was with my best friend in mind that I made this fresh, summery bruschetta. Grilled bread, brushed with olive oil, then topped with a garlicky combination of white beans, fresh tomatoes, and a handful of herbs, makes for a highly enjoyable meal, whether you are interested in throwing together a simple dinner for two or a light appetizer for a crowd. Serve this with sturdy crackers for dipping and it transforms into an even more casual affair. Mix it up with some orzo and you’ve got a great summer salad on your hands (and in your mouth). Or you can do what I did: take it over to a friend’s house, place it in the refrigerator, then sit around chatting and enjoying each other’s company until  hunger strikes or a certain newborn baby allows for a bit of respite by taking a long afternoon nap (whichever comes first).

Last Year: Tiny Party Sandwiches

White Bean and Tomato Bruschetta Recipe

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 ½ cups chopped tomato, seeds removed

1 ½ cups cooked white beans (canned, rinsed beans are fine)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

salt and pepper to taste

optional: a sprinkling of finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

1 loaf of crusty bread, cut into slices, brushed with olive oil, and grilled until crisp

In a large bowl, combine minced garlic with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stir to combine, then set aside while you seed and chop the tomatoes. Add tomatoes to garlic and olive mixture, along with the white beans, chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then taste for seasoning.

To serve, pile on top of slices of grilled bread, then, if using, sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart

3 Oct

Let’s just start by stating the obvious: this tart looks peculiar.  There’s pretty much no way around it and, believe me, I have tried to somehow overshadow the fact that, though incredibly delicious, this vegetable tart’s filling also happens to be pink.  It’s the color of salmon.  Truth be told, when I first sliced into the tart, my thoughts were dominated by flashes of the Grim Reaper, bony finger pointed at a tabletop, responding to the query of a very badly-American-accented Michael Palin in drag: “The salmon mousse.”

So, it’s pink. But it is also phenomenal.  When I served it, I found myself defending its rather shocking hue by reassuring everyone that, sure, it looks like something a Disney princess would serve at her birthday party, but it tastes like a dream.  Savory roasted eggplant, fresh tomatoes, a buttery and flakey crust that is so incredible, it actually tastes like a croissant—surely these virtues can make one look past the color, yes?

As it turned out, everyone else was looking past the color.  It was me, and me alone, who was stuck in a permanent state of confusion over the pinkness of my dinner.  Even though I was the person who made the tart, which meant that I knew better than anyone else what exactly went into the tart, the superior taste of the thing was just not enough for me.  After every silky smooth, tasty bite, I would turn to my husband and say, “You don’t think it matters that it’s so…pink?”

And then he look up from his plate, cheeks stuffed full of tart like a chipmunk hoarding rations for the winter, and say, “Whht?  Iss fine.  Iss dlissishus.  So iss pnk…whhro crrrslt.”

And then he would finish his chewing, swallow his bite, and say, “I am now going to eat another piece.”

So, you can thank my husband, he of the only mildly understandable full-mouth-talking, that this tart recipe is seeing the light of day.  And you should thank him.  This tart is wonderful.  The roasted eggplant provides a rich smoothness that plays very well off of the summery taste of the barely roasted tomatoes, and the handful of fresh herbs thrown in does wonders for upping the savory factor.  This tart is totally worth your time and attention, which is good because, a pink tart?  Kind of difficult to ignore.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Tart

Flaky Tart Dough

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this savory tart dough recipe hails from Tartine.

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup very cold water

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (which is 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons, or 21 tablespoons total) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

In a small bowl, combine cold water and salt, then stir to dissolve salt.  Place salt water in refrigerator or freezer to keep very cold until ready to use.

To make the dough in a food processor, place the flour in the work bowl, then scatter the butter pieces over the top.  Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles large crumbs, but there are still large pea-sized chunks of butter scattered throughout.  Add the salt water mixture and pulse several times until the dough comes together in a ball, but is not completely smooth.  There should still be visible butter chunks.

To make the dough by hand, put the flour in a large mixing bowl, then scatter the buter pieces over the top.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs with several large butter pieces scattered throughout.  Drizzle in the salt water mixture, then toss with a fork until the dough starts to come together in a shaggy mass.  Gently mix the dough until it comes together in a ball, but is not completely smooth.  There should still be visible butter chunks.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into 2 equal balls, then shape each ball into a disk about 1 inch thick.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

If not using the dough immediately, it can keep in the refrigerator, well-wrapped, for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 week.

To parbake the dough, roll out a disk of dough on a lightly floured surface.  The dough should be about 1/8-inch thick. If dough is sticky, lightly dust with flour to prevent sticking.  Roll the dough into a circle roughly 1 ½ inches larger than the pan you will be using.

Transfer the dough to a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressingly the dough gently against the sides and bottom of the pan.  Trim the dough even with the rim of the pan.  Place the shell in the freezer, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line the frozen shell with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights (or dry beans, or a handful of loose change—no, really).  Bake until the surface looks dry and pale, about 20 minutes.  Remove the shell from the oven, remove the parchment paper and pie weights, then place shell back in the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the surface just begins to turn golden.  If the dough begins to rise up in the middle, gently pierce it with the tip of a sharp knife, taking care not to make a large hole that will drain your upcoming tart filling.

Remove tart shell from oven until needed.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Filling

1 large eggplant, about 12 ounces

3 plum tomatoes (I used San Marzanos, but Romas would also work well), cored but otherwise kept whole

3 eggs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh basil and Italian parsley (roughly 1 small handful of each fresh, whole herb)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce the skin of the eggplant in several places.  Place eggplant on a baking sheet, and bake until eggplant is completely soft and beginning to emit its juices, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Turn the oven up to broil.  On a heavy baking sheet, broil the tomatoes, turning often, until the skin is charred and split, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven’s broiler.  Remove tomatoes from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

(Both the eggplant and tomatoes can be roasted and broiled ahead of time and then set aside in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

When eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and add it to the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Add cooled tomatoes, skin and all.  Blend eggplant and tomatoes until smooth (if you are using a blender for this, be sure to keep the lid of the blender loose, as blending hot liquids with a tight blender lid may cause the lid to blow off in a rather spectacular fashion).  Add the eggs and blend or pulse until incorporated.  Add Parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper, then blend or pulse very briefly until just combined.

Pour eggplant mixture into parbaked tart shell.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the middle of the tart has set and a knife gently inserted into the middle of the tart comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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