Monday, August 15, 2011

Goat cheese-stuffed tomato with pistachios and balsamic vinegar

This is borrowed from Crispi 19, a fish restaurant we went to in Rome. It was a very nice, fresh summer appetizer.
Serves 4
  • 4 vine-riped tomatoes, with tops removed, and seeds scooped out.
  • 10 ounces soft goat cheese, I used 5 ounces of plain goat cheese, and 5 ounces of "Purple Haze" a goat cheese with herbs, lots of fennel
  • 1-2 ounces pistachios, optional
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • a few tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • frisee, arugula or basil to garnish
Places the pistachios in a food processor (small bowl), and process till desired granularity. Remove pistachios and mix goat cheeses in the food processor, this will have the effect of whipping it and lightening its density. If you are using pistachios, add them back in, but process just to mix.

We had very chalky goat chesse with ours, and it was nice, the chalkiness was a good counterpoint to the tomato. When I do this, I will probably did this, I placed each tomato on a salad of greens with balsamic dressing. I also served it with gazpacho.

Gnocchi with Buffalo Mozzeralla, Pesto and Arrabbiata Sauce

Inspired by a lunch dish we had in Rome at Ciampini at the top of the Spanish steps. You must do both sauces, as the arrabbiata is not sufficient.
  • 1 recipe arrabbiata sauce, similar to this
  • 1 recipe gnocchi
  • 1/2 recipe pesto (really, you should make the full recipe, and just save the rest for use in another dish)
  •  2 four-ounce buffalo mozzeralla balls, cut into a 1/2" dice
Separate the gnocchi into four bowls. Divide up the mozzerella cubes between the four bowls, and intersperse with the gnocchi. Divide up the arrabbiata sauce between the four bowls, and gently stir to mix into the gnocchi--gently, because the gnocchi is very prone to breaking, and if you don't do it gently, you'll have mashed potato soup. Spoon 1/2 to 1 tsp-sized dollops of pesto onto each of the four bowls, around 10 dollops per bowl should be sufficient.

This was a huge hit at our house. It is very rich without actually being very high fat or caloric. It's a tad on the labor-intensive side, given the gnocchi and the two sacues, but if you make the pesto the day before, and use half of it for something else, it will feel less-so.