Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Zucchini, Tomato, Onion, Ricotta Salata and Bread Salad

Hello green eaters,

Due to the increasing heat, I have been hunting down cool dinner ideas. Grilled vegetables are a big hit, because they are good hot or cold, and make great left overs. Here is an incredible dish from Bistro Laurent Tourondel, including some of the best summer flavors. I love this cookbook for it's creative mixture of textures and flavors. Some of the ingredients are more challenging to find, but can be substituted for easily. Being fearless in the kitchen may be dangerous advice, but taking old recipe ideas and turning them into something new and interesting seems to be the most rewarding part of cooking. Do not be limited by these recipes, venture outside the charted cuisine.

From Bistro Laurent Tourondel-

" Summer Savory adds a lot of flavor to this grilled vegetable salad. It is native to the Mediterranean and has been used for centuries as a culinary herb to flavor meats, vegetables, and beans. The Romans considered savory a powerful aphrodisiac. It has a delicate flavor something like fresh thyme. Many specialty stores carry fresh summer savory, and it is also easy to grow in the garden. If you can't find it, try substituting fresh thyme or oregano instead."

Serves 6

Basil Oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large sweet onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large red bell peper, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large yellow zucchini, halved lengthwise
4 large heirloom tomatoes of mixed colors, cored and cut into large dice
1 loaf ciabatta bread (8-10)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh summer savory (sub. options- thyme, oregano)
2 ounces ricotta salata (sub. options - relatively dry and sharp cheese, romano, pecorino, even feta)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup aged sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh summer savory
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

Make the Basil Oil
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the basil leaves for 15 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the basil to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the leaves. Press the leaves b/w paper towels to remove excess water. Roughly chop the leaves.
In a blender, combine the chopped basil and oil. Puree 3-4 minutes or until smooth. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, line the sieve w a double layer of cheesecloth (helpful but not necessary). Scrape the basil puree into the strainer, let stand until the oil has drained into the bowl, discard the basil.

Grill the Vegetables
In a large bowl, toss the sweet onions and peppers w 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season w salt and pepper. Brush the zucchini with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill on medium high w onions and peppers around zucchini, turning often until charred and softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from grille and cool down slightly. Cut zucchini crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

Make the Dressing
In large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, savory, parsley, and garlic. Season w salt and pepper.

Marinate the Vegetables
Add the grilled vegetables and tomatoes to the bowl w the dressing. Season w salt and pepper and allow to marinate until desired at room temp.

Grille the Bread
Trim crust, cut into 1 inch thick slices. Brush each w olive oil. Grill over medium high heat turning once, until browned on both sides.

To assemble the Salad
Add the red onion and savory leaves to the marinated vegetables. Place a piece of toast in the middle of each plate. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the plates. shave the ricotta salata over the salad and drizzle w the basil oil. Serve immediately.

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