As many of you know, I really enjoy cooking. In fact, most of my blog posts for the last few months have centered around food and recipes. One might actually get the impression that I’m a skilled home cook. I’m really not. I just know how to follow directions well. Otherwise, I’m a lost baby deer. A fawn, if you will.
This is particularly a problem when I go to a farmer’s market here in Los Angeles. Some vibrant veggie will catch my eye, I’ll buy it, and then I’ll realize I have no idea what to do with it. That’s exactly what happened to me recently after a bountiful trip to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market where I emerged with two beautiful heirloom tomatoes and a dearth of ideas. Sure, I could have made a Caprese salad with them, but I wanted to try something new. Or at least a twist on the classic. [btw, just read this paragraph over, and it so pretentious I want to hurl myself off my balcony. But I’m too lazy to rewrite it. Anyhoo…]
As mild panic and buyer’s remorse began to set in, I leafed through my cookbooks in search of the perfect recipe to highlight the flavor of my heirlooms. The winning candidate came from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian book Plenty, which offered up an intriguing “Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato” option. It was in the same realm as a Caprese but unique enough to capture my attention.
Pics of the recipe after the jump…
Things begin with some fennel seeds in a dry pan. Adrenaline is pumping.
The toasting process is anything if not thrilling.
The seeds find a new home in a mortar where they will be CRUSHED TO DEATH.
I have triumphed over the fennel seeds.
Meanwhile, the seeds go into a bowl along with some lemon zest.
Some sliced basil enters the mix, as it often does.
And then some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano. The recipe calls for fresh oregano, but I only had dried on hand. FORGIVE ME.
A little mix-eroo.
Next I add some fresh mozzarella to the bowl. The recipe calls for buffalo mozzarella (which actually comes from buffalo. Seems fairly obvious, but I just assumed it was an Italian word that looked like our word for buffalo. But no. it’s actually BUFFALO). Anyway, I had no access to buffalo mozzarella and wasn’t about to spend $15 at a gourmet shop. Regular Fresh & Easy brand did the trick.
Once everything is mixed, I let the cheese sit for about thirty minutes to soak up the marinade. It’s a perfect time to read about buffalo mozzarella, which I can assure you does not hail from Buffalo, NY.
Meanwhile, time to attack my first heirloom.
Look at that color!
Some uneven slicing action.
After the marinating is done, I simply plop the cheese on top of the sliced tomatoes. Oh, and there’s a drizzle of olive oil too.
It sort of automatically looks pretty.
The answer is yes, I did spend ten minutes adoring the presentation.
Super tasty! I loved this dish, if only because it was so easy to make and full of bright flavors. Admittedly, when it comes to fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes, you really only need some salt, pepper, and a light drizzle of balsamic, but this was a POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL way to jazz up an old standard. Extra bonus: it’s quite filling. Perfect as a lunch, a side, or a starter.
Get to it!
Full recipe here.