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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer by the Spoonful

Wouldn't you know it?  I come across a stellar recipe for cherry tomatoes and this is the year that I didn't get around to planting cherry tomato plants. Aaaaggghhh...
No matter!  Not having an excess of my own, home-grown cherry tomatoes is not going to stop me from making this super tasty tomato vinaigrette concoction weekly, nor should it hold you back from trying this amazingly, kicky sauce.

I stumbled across this recipe in the current issue of Bon Appetit (and what is up with that magazine?  You couldn't have paid me to even look at it for years, and with the last few issues--all picked up at the airport magazine stand--I am delighted!  Who knew?!)  I made a batch of what they call Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette, for last weekend's 4th of July festivities, as an option to top the burgers and it was a huge hit.  A friend said we should all say goodbye to ketchup and I agreed, especially the next morning as I spooned the last bit leftover from the party on my scrambled eggs.  Must make more was all I kept thinking.

There's nothing complicated here -- a pint of cherry tomatoes goes into some gently sauteed shallots in olive oil.  You let the tomatoes cook down a little so they can release their juices and then use a wooden spoon to mash the whole ones up a bit.  Off the heat, stir in some red wine vinegar (I used an extra splash because I love things a little more vinegary), a little more olive oil, salt, pepper and some freshly snipped chives and you have achieved summer tomato nirvana.

It's tempting to simply stand over the pot and eat the entire batch while standing by the stove, but exercise restraint!  This is a summer elixir which will elevate whatever you want to put it on.  The aforementioned burger is a great idea, or some scrambled eggs...anything you can put avocado on actually.  Last night it was outstanding over simply roasted fish.  Up next, I intend to try it over those lovely little ricotta cakes I've mentioned before.   What can't this humble sauce do?!

I've become quite the evangelist with this recipe, spending most of last week trying to convince everyone in my immediate orbit that they must go home and make this immediately.  And, you'll be happy to know that those who have, agree that it's the very essence of summer.  Best part is, you don't need to have a backyard bounty of your own to try it.  Happy summer!

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 pint cherry tomatoes (a mix of Sungold and Super 100s looks beautiful)
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. plus a splash more, red wine vinegar
pinch of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

1.  Separate half of the tomatoes and cut in half. (Yes, I know...kind of a pain).  Leave the remaining cherry tomatoes whole.
2.  Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallot and cook, stirring regularly, until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
3.  Add all the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to release their juices, 4-6 minutes.  WARNING:  the aroma is intoxicating!!
4.  Mash some of the whole tomatoes in the mixture with the side of a wooden spoon and add the red wine vinegar, salt & pepper and remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil.  (Less if you'd like the sauce thicker.)   Taste for seasoning, it may need a bit more salt.

5.  Stir in the chopped chives right before serving.

This can sit at room temperature for hours or make ahead and chill, bringing it back to room temperature when ready to serve.