Sharing food with my friends and family is something I really enjoy. One drawback of the pandemic is that I am hardly seeing friends so I have mostly been unable to share my garden bounty except through facebook and instagram. But this past week, I had a brief, spontaneous meetup with one of my dearest most wonderful friends, Fadya. We “air hugged” for a few minutes on the sidewalk in the East Village and I presented her with a gift – a few tomatoes from my garden.
Now Fadya is one of the most exceptional cooks I know, and a full on foodie. Her culinary repertoire finds its roots in her Palestinian heritage but her creativity and unique sensibility make everything turn to magic in her hands. And Fadya LOVES tomatoes in all of their summer splendor and variety.
A lot of my memories of Fadya are tied to food. Food and love are one and the same for Fadya. I remember spending an afternoon in Fadya’s home learning to make grape leaves stuffed with rice and lamb. We followed our hard work with a sumptuous mid-afternoon lunch of lamb chops served with said stuffed grape leaves.
So, back to the tomatoes… Tomatoes are quite possibly the most widely grown fruit in the summer here in New York City. As summer winds down it seems fitting to make a blog post featuring the tomato. At home here, we have been enjoying our homegrown tomatoes all summer – straight off the vine, washed and cut up, in salads and cooked in meals. The Golden Sunshine tomatoes, we usually eat simply sliced – their flavor and the explosion of juice when you bite into them make them a stand alone favorite.
It was with pure delight that I experienced what Fadya did with my Brooklyn urban garden tomatoes:
“Mozzarella Tomato Shindy: Appetizer”
“Delicious with mozzarella! Simple: slice tomatoes, slice mozzarella, plate tomatoes and mozzarella while alternating them, Sprinkle a little sea salt or coarse salt, fresh black pepper , drizzle with olive oil and finish with strips of basil. Delicious!”
“Salads and Lentils”
“Market She Wolf toasted rye with smashed avocado topped with Shindy tomatoes, chives, basil, Maldon salt, black pepper, and drizzle of Palestinian olive oil. Perfection.”
Tomato Mozzarella with Crispy Fried Sage Leaves
I so desperately wanted to see what Fadya’s tomato appetizer with mozzarella tasted like. I was missing some ingredients – but when has that ever stopped me? I had sage and sage butter on my mind so here’s my twist:
“Toast fresh sage leaves in butter until lightly crispy. Scoop sage out of the frying pan just as the butter turns a light caramel color and the leaves darken. Set aside to cool. Slice tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Plate mozzarella and top with halved tomato slices. Crumble crisp sage leaves over the tomatoes and serve.”
–Cooking With A Twist
UPDATE: GUILIA’S TWIST
September 30, 2020
Inspired by our blog and Fadya’s creation, her friend Guilia twisted it up like this:
The Sage Connection
I have been thinking about sage butter a lot and wanted to create a meal where the earthy, nutty notes of sage butter took center stage. I made a meal that satisfied both vegetarian and meat lover palates. For meat lovers, pork chops cooked in sage butter. For vegetarians, gnocchi with honeynut squash and sage butter sauce.
The tomato mozzarella appetizer was absolutely delicious. The lightly salty mozzarella and crisp, buttery sage leaves sandwiching the tomato was SPLENDID. This will make splendid hors d’oeuvres at any elegant dinner party or casual summer backyard get-together.
There are lots of recipes online for sage butter sauce. I enjoyed reading up on sage butter at The Spruce Eats blog.
- Sage leaves can be infused into sweet or salted butter by heating the butter gently with fresh sage leaves. (Read more here)
- The butter (with sage flavor) can be used in a variety of recipes:
- Pork Chops. Here I marinated pork chops overnight in an over-the-counter orange ginger dry rub. I then cooked the pork chops by simply frying in sage butter once the sage leaves had been removed.
- Gnocchi (or other pasta) with honeynut squash and ricotta, drizzled with sage butter. Garnished with crumbled crispy sage leaves.
There are lots of great Italian food establishments in my neighborhood. Today I want to give a shoutout to Pastosa Ravioli on Avenue N in Mill Basin for the fresh gnocchi, ricotta and mozzarella used in this week’s recipes. Check them out to order online or in person https://www.pastosa.com/5223-Avenue-N-Brooklyn-s/1872.htm.
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What are you growing or eating this season?
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