Sunchoke Panzanella

June 7th, 2019 · 35 Comments

You know what is one of the best combinations in the world?  Tomatoes and bread.  Pizza, bruschetta, and panzanella are all products of this delicious combination, and I love all three of them.  But you know what makes an even better combination?  Tomatoes, bread, and sunchokes.

I see sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem Artichokes) at the farmer’s market every week, and I buy them pretty often, to add to other dishes for a little crunch.  Unpeeled, they look a little bit like fresh ginger, but when you peel them, they have a really light, mild flavor and terrific crunchy texture.  I like to add them raw to salads, or use them in place of celery for things like tuna salad… which I usually make with salmon, so can I really call it tuna salad?  But I digress.

Saturday of this weekend was intensely beautiful in New York, and I woke up early and couldn’t sleep, so I decided to walk from my (uptown) apartment all the way down to the farmer’s market.  I love how sleepy the city is on weekend mornings, before the restaurant brunches pick up, when the stores are still closed and the streets are quiet.  For the city that never sleeps, Saturdays and Sundays before 10 am get pretty close.

But then I got to the farmer’s market, and found the portion of the city that, like me, was awake and excited.  Suddenly, in the last few weeks, it seems the farmer’s market has doubled in size.  Whereas in January, even on the weekends, there would only be a few choices of things to buy, suddenly now there are tents upon tents of potted and cut flowers, fresh herbs, even vegetable plants for sale!  And squeezed in between them are the stalls that I’ve been buying from all winter, and suddenly I now have to wait in line. 

Spring vegetables still aren’t available, but I think the closeness of spring makes me value the last winter veggies a little bit more.  So when I saw sunchokes, I wanted to celebrate spring using what’s actually available in Manhattan in April: Sunchoke Panzanella.

Sunchoke Panzanella

INGREDIENTS:
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
3 medium-sized sunchokes, cut into 1/2 to 3/4″ pieces
4 large slices of sourdough bread, or a little less than a demi-baguette, cut into cubes
3 large shallots, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large skillet, toast bread in 2 tbsp olive oil until crispy and golden.
2. Mix toasted bread, tomatoes, sunchokes and basil in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together remaining olive oil and vinegar, drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Serves three to four.


Tags: food · salads · side dishes

best homemade guacamole

June 3rd, 2019 · 14 Comments

I love guacamole. 

In fact, the word ‘love’ might not be strong enough.  I’m enthralled, enraptured and a little bit obsessed with this recipe, in no small part because it’s one of the best-tasting good-for-you snacks I can imagine.  Avocados are full of healthy fats, and guacamole is basically just a combination of a few simple, fresh ingredients, tossed and served up.  It doesn’t get much yummier than that.

A few tips on storing guacamole without the avocados turning brown — first, don’t make this until the last possible minute.  But if you have to make it ahead (or, even more rarely, if this doesn’t get eaten in one sitting), save the pits and store them in the same container.  Rub some saran wrap with a little bit of lemon juice, and cover the top of the guacamole that would otherwise be exposed to the air, and then add an airtight lid. 

And on day two, throw this on some tortilla chips, add some sour cream and cheese, and viola — nachos!

Best Homemade Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe avocados
1 shallot, minced
1 plum tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly grated black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cut avocados in half and remove the pit.  Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a mixing bowl.  Add the chopped onion, cilantro, tomatoes, lime juice, salt and pepper and mash with a fork until chunky and mixed.  Serve with chips or chopped veggies.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes

burrata, basil and tomato salad

May 11th, 2019 · 5 Comments

Have you guys tried burrata yet? 

The answer is probably yes — this creamy, delicate mozzarella has been popping up on menus for the past year or two in really excellent restaurants, and it’s spread like wildfire. 

Which, of course, is because it’s one of the best cheeses I’ve ever tasted.  And I do not say that lightly.

I’ve never been much of a fan of mozzarella — the key ingredient in a million fast food pizza places across the country has never held much of a culinary interest to me. 

But burrata is something else entirely — more like a creamy, rich cheese than a hearty mozzarella, this is worth trying even if you’ve never been interested in anything on the pizza spectrum.  All you need are some fresh mid-summer tomatoes, and this dish is an absolute dream. 

Burrata, Basil and Tomato Salad

INGREDIENTS
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
8 ounces burrata, outer layer stripped away
10 leave basil, julienned
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
Slice tomatoes into 1/4″ strips.  Arrange two tomatoes each on two appetizer-sized plates and top with burrata.  Sprinkle fresh julienne-ed basil over the salad, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Grind sea salt and pepper over the salad and serve.

Serves 2.

Tags: appetizers · food · salads · side dishes