Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WOW, What a recipe!!!

This was in my inbox today, from Lynne Rossetto Casper at Splendid Table, does this look amazing or what???

~ jan

Prime tomatoes green and red, a great old fashioned dressing and a slick trick with, of all things, cream cheese gives this old time dish new panache. Tomatoes were made for this treatment, but know the dressing is fine on green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, steamed butternut, fish, meat, chicken and anything else you can pair with it.

Okay, so this is a tad over the top, but you could eat this as a one dish supper, then serve it as a side at the Labor Day feast.No meat, great taste -- can't ask for more than this.

Old Time Sweet-Sour Tomato Salad with Fresh Dill Cheese
Copyright 2008 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Serves 4 to 6
10 minutes prep time; 5 minutes stove time.

Straight from 19th-century American cookbooks, these big chunks of green tomatoes and ripe beefsteaks bathed in a warm, garlicky sweet-sour dressing can stand on their own, top greens or make a potato-tomato salad you can't stop eating. Bacon fat was favored in this recipe 150 years ago; olive oil works today.

My pet theory of sweet-and-sour being a universal panacea for any dish proved true when we tested this recipe with so-so red winter tomatoes.

From the same era is the idea of rolling cream cheese (homemade back then) in fresh herbs. Dropped on top of the salad, the bright green little balls are a great accent.

Cook to Cook: The dressing can be prepared up to a week ahead up to the point of adding the vinegar and refrigerated. The oil should be warm, but not hot, when the vinegar goes in; that way you won't get spattered, nor will you burn your tongue when you taste it for seasoning.

Serve the salad immediately after dressing.

Dressing:

  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, but preferably use bacon fat
  • 1 medium red onion, thin sliced lengthwise into long strips
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper as needed
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 2 tight-packed tablespoons brown sugar

Dill Cheese:

  • 1/4 cup tight-packed fresh dill leaves
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Tomatoes:

  • 2 to 3 large, delicious, ripe tomatoes (1-1/2 to 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 medium green tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 light-packed cup coarse-chopped fresh dill leaves

Make the dressing by pouring the cider into a small saucepan and boiling down to about 1/2 cup - 5 minutes more or less. Set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil or bacon fat. Stir in the onions, sprinkling them with a little salt and a generous amount of pepper. Saute for a minute or until the onion is softened, but not browned. Stir in garlic and cook another 30 seconds to a minute. You want to soften the garlic, but not brown it. Pull the pan off the heat and blend in the sugar to melt it. (You can set the dressing aside at this point for several hours, or refrigerate it up to a week.) Make the dill cheese by chopping the 1/4 cup dill, blending the cream cheese with the onion and salt and pepper, then creating small balls with 2 teaspoons.Roll the balls in the dill. Chill until ready to serve.

To serve, put the tomatoes into a large serving bowl. When you are ready to serve, warm up the onion mixture if needed - it should be warm, not hot. Pull the pan off the heat, stir in the boiled-down vinegar and any liquid from the tomatoes. Carefully (dressing could be quite hot) taste for seasoning and sweet-tart balance.

Pour it over the tomatoes, folding in the dill. If you made the salad with olive oil dressing, serve it warm or at room temperature. If bacon fat was used in the dressing, it's best to eat it warm. Then dot the salad with the dill cheese.

LYNNE'S TIPS

Make extra dressing; you will use it up for homemade coleslaw, cooked yams, broccoli, shrimp or salmon salads.

When delicious, ripe heirloom tomatoes are at farm markets, snap them up for this salad. It's a great chance to try different varieties.

If you can find fresh cream cheese without gums or stabilizers buy it.You'll taste the difference.

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