Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Marcella Hazan week marches on. Last night I made her garlic scented tomato salad- I added mozzarella to make it a little bit of a meal. Y'all know when you order a mozzarella and tomato salad and it's these ice cold, gross, mealy, flavorless but perfectly round slices of tomato with big chunks of matching round mozzarella? This was not that. This was so, so, so much better. Also, absurdly simple. The whole thing took 20 minutes, and only 10 minutes of actual work.

First you smush some garlic cloves a bit- just press down on them. Then cover with a little salt and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Let it sit for 20 minutes.

Then, you take about a pound of roma tomatoes. I used these striped Sicilian tomatoes that I got from the potato guy at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (Weiser Farms, for those of you in LA- he's also at the Westwood Farmer's market and has the most beautiful potatoes. And tomatoes, now.) You peel them. I know this sounds ridiculous and impossible- the last time I was supposed to peel a tomato, I had dinner guest on their way and my dad giving me the Cal-USC play by play on the phone and I said screw it. This time, I decided to try. I consulted Jacques Pepin's Techniques, but he has you boil the tomatoes for a bit, which I worried would mess with the tomato too much. It turned out to not be that hard. I used my brilliant little Oxo swivel peeler and my hands, at times. Not super simple and effortless, but not rocket science, either. So that took less than 10 minutes and was the only difficult part of the meal.

You slice the tomatoes really thin- I wound up with these ragged strips of tomatoes. If you're adding mozzarella, like me, do so, interspersing with the tomatoes. Tear up a few leaves of basil over the tomatoes. Strain the vinegar and pour onto the tomatoes. Toss. Serve with bread to mop up the juice and/or make little open face tomato sandwiches or whatever you want.

So, so good. The tomatoes were spectacular- some of the best tomatoes in taste/texture I've ever had. The vinegar was just right. If the mozzarella had been better (I just used TJ's Bocconcini- not exquisit, but good), we would have died and gone to food heaven. Where Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the governor. I bet it's nice there.