Category Archives: Gardening

French Fridays with Dorie: mozzarella, tomato and strawberry salad

Another week has flown by, so fortunately, the recipe this week for French Fridays with Dorie is another super simple one: mozzarella, tomato and strawberry salad. The shopping was the hardest part of this recipe. Salad Caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad without strawberry) is a summer staple at my house once the local tomatoes are in, so I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of adding strawberries into an already beloved dish. You never know until you try, so I was game to try Dorie’s version from Around My French Table.

This recipe was so simple that the ingredients are key. Where I live in Massachusetts, tomatoes aren’t truly in season yet. Dorie said to use the best you could get, so I opted for an off-season stand-in, greenhouse-grown tomatoes from Backyard Tomatoes in Maine. Their cocktail tomatoes are a little bigger than cherry tomatoes and have a similar concentrated flavor. While not as good as a late July tomato grown in the sunshine would be, they worked pretty well. And, strawberry season is over in late July. This was the moment for this salad.

Visually, I’d say this salad is gorgeous. The color of the strawberries and tomatoes together was intensely vibrant, and especially striking with the very white cheese. I didn’t have pink peppercorns, but found some pink Hawaiian salt in the pantry, so used that for a sprinkle of extra color. My basil plants are still more like seedlings, but I have other plentiful herbs growing outside the door. I used a sprig of lemon balm (melissa officinalis) which lent a citrusy, floral flavor. A little drizzle of extra virgin olive and balsamic vinegar, and it was salad.

How did it taste? It was definitely interesting. I liked the surprise of the strawberries as I ate. I couldn’t really get my head around the idea of fruit in a savory salad, and even though I was the cook and knew they were there, I just didn’t expect to taste strawberries with the tomatoes.

The star of this dish was the cheese. Dorie mentioned that this would be really good with burrata. Have you ever had burrata? I first had it on a trip to California about three years ago, shortly after seeing it mentioned in a glossy food magazine (Bon Appetit?) and having no idea what it was. It looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella, but when you cut it open, the outer mozzarella shell is filled with creamy, buttery, very soft and rich curds. If you’ve never tried it, you should seek it out.

Burrata doesn’t seem to be widely available commercially in my area, but wanted more! The search was on. I knew of one local cheesemaker who made burrata, but I don’t actually care for the texture of their mozzarella. The past two summers, I have found containers of Bel Gioiosio Wisconsin-made burrata at Costco. It’s not bad, but not as good as my first taste in California. A week or two ago, I was happy to read about a new source, a local small-scale cheesemaker around Boston. The summer issue of Edible Boston has a lengthy article about Mozzarella House and mentioned that their cheese was for sale at a local market in my town (Wilson Farm). I knew I wanted to find this new burrata and try it in this salad.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about the cheese. It was such a treat! It lived up to my first California taste! It totally made this salad sing!

Overall, I thought this salad was interesting to eat and gorgeous to look at. It’s a true seasonal dish. The ingredients are so important that, with strawberries, this is more of once-a-year treat where I live. My husband won’t eat fruit in his savory food, so he didn’t try it, but I think it would be fun to serve to company because of its uniqueness. There’s also no reason not make this with other fruits that complement the creaminess of the cheese. I’m certainly glad that I tried it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other FFwD bloggers thought of the salad. With bloggers around the world, it’s not the peak of strawberry season everywhere, so it will be interesting to see what creative twists they’ve come up with. You can check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but do encourage you to buy Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table, and think about joining us on Fridays as we cook through the book together.

Advertisements

French Fridays with Dorie: Roasted Rhubarb

It’s Friday, and after last week’s rib debacle, my expectations for this week’s recipe were high. Roasted rhubarb was on the menu for French Fridays at Dorie.

I have a patch of rhubarb growing in my garden. When I went out to pick some, I noticed that it’s a bit overrun with raspberry volunteers, so some weeding is in order. The plant has enormous, platter-sized leaves, which are quite poisonous due to oxalic acid. Fortunately, the stalks are safe to eat.

I do love rhubarb. Usually, I stew it or make a rhubarb crisp with lots of sweet crumbly topping. I had never tried roasting. This was a simple and satisfying preparation. Low effort yielded delicious results. Rhubarb pieces were mixed with sugar and lemon zest and then roasted until soft. I love the contrast of the tart fruit and the sweet light pink syrup created during the roasting process.

This was a definitely a success! It makes up for last week. I ate it both plain and with some thick Greek yogurt for breakfast, though I preferred with yogurt. I don’t like anything too too sweet in the morning, so this was perfect, especially with my new favorite brand of Greek yogurt (Cabot).

I made only half a recipe because I wasn’t sure how it would come out, but I am already thinking of variations for next time. For one thing, I think I’ll cut the pieces a little smaller as I found they were a little big for the spoon. I also think that grated ginger would make a lovely substitute for the lemon zest, maybe even with some chopped crystallized ginger too.

If you’re new to my blog, every Friday I cook a new recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s newest cookbook, Around My French Table as part of French Fridays with Dorie. Lots of other bloggers do it too. The great fun is reading their posts and comparing notes. You can see what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links here. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book. Maybe you’ll even want to cook along with us on Fridays.

My Rhubarb Patch