All right, 2013, you’ve got my attention. You’re a big one.
Friends, it is with joy so intense I feel it in every part of my body that I get to tell you that Saveur magazine, along with all of you lovlies who voted, has named this here blog the best cooking blog of 2013. Wow. Just crazy wow.
There are so many things to say and yet I can’t hear the words beyond the excited screaming in my head.
This award is like a giant affirmation that I’m headed in the right direction and for someone, such as myself, who spends much of the time on the journey questioning. “Is this the right way? Should I turn here? Should I have kept walking straight or turned back there? Hmm. Maybe I’ll just stop here and wonder about which way to go for awhile.” This year it has been about walking forward with confidence and trusting that my steps are being guided and I’m just going along for the ride.
So I’m taking this award as a giant sign along the path that reads, “This is the right way! Keep going!”
But let’s get to the real reason why I’m here – to tell you about the best lunch I’ve had in a very long time. I mean I guess it’s not hard to beat the peanut butter and honey sandwiches that have become customary lunch around here.
No, you know what. It is hard to beat that. Peanut butter sandwiches are like eating a sweet memory from when your biggest problem was deciding which cartoon to watch. But they are still not as good as creamy slices of avocado under a layer of even creamier burrata which buckles under the weight of a pile of sweet and tangy roasted tomatoes. Add to that roughly torn basil and a squeeze of fresh lemon all on a butter toasted piece of country bread. Lunch.
It’s a caprese salad and yet it’s not. The genius behind the addition of avocado to this classic salad is Gaby Dalkins, author of the just released cookbook, Absolutely Avocados. A book devoted entirely to the glorious avocado. Of course there’s guacamole – goat cheese guacamole and spicy sesame guacamole, for example. Then Gaby goes and throws some avocado into her cookies and purees avocado with her hummus. She’s brilliant.
Now, I’m not sure my caprese will ever be without avocado. Or roasted tomatoes for that matter (unless it’s early September in Seattle when the tomatoes just off the vine have the same robust sweetness as those that have bathed in a hot oven for an hour). And since we’re changing things up quite a bit I’m also fairly certain that all caprese salads around here will be eaten on top of buttery, crisp bread that was rubbed with fresh garlic. Pretty sure I can no longer call it caprese, but I will call it lunch and then I’ll go ahead and call it dinner too.
Roasted Tomato Caprese with Avocado
Roasted Tomato Caprese with Avocado
inspired by Absolutely Avocados by Gaby Dalkins
makes 3 tartines
1 large beefsteak tomato or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large leaves fresh basil
1 tablespoon butter
3 thick slices of country bread
1 garlic clove
1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 large burrata ball (mozzarella would work fine here)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Cut the large tomato in 1/4″ inch slices. Lay on a parchment lined sheet tray and drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. If you are using the cherry tomatoes, simply toss them with the olive oil and salt and lay them in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray.
Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until wilted, wrinkly and deeply caramelized in parts. The cherry tomatoes will sweet and deflate and some of the juices will scorch in places. This is good.
When the tomatoes have roasted, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.
In a large skillet over medium heat add the butter to melt. Place the pieces of bread in the pan and cook until crisp and golden in parts, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Remove the bread from the pan and let cool.
Once cool assemble the tartines. Avocado slices line the bottom, next tear off a piece of the fragile burrata taking care to get parts of the creamy interior. Lick your fingers when no one is looking.
Add a small pile of roasted tomatoes on top. Then finish with some torn leaves of basil and a squeeze of lemon. Feel free to add a nice flaky salt on top too.