This time of year, our farmers’ markets are bursting with red, purple, yellow and orange tomatoes — from pint-sized Sungolds to heirlooms to robust sauce varieties. Since the summer bounty will only last for a few more weeks, we suggest you stock your pantry now.
Holly Jivin, the chef de cuisine at The Bazaar in Beverly Hills, tells us she is something of a tomato purist: “If it’s an amazing tomato, it should always just be eaten with olive oil, salt and pepper.” Our supervising producer Abbie Fentress Swanson throws tomatoes into a heavy saucepan with sugar and spices and cooks them into jam. I’m planning to use my haul to make Evan Kleiman’s fresh summertime tomato sauce. Juicing and freezing tomatoes is another way to stretch out the summer crop. You’ll avoid having to buy the less flavorful store-bought ones when you get the hankering for marinara sauce in the middle of winter.
One more tomato pro-tip: Save your hard-earned cash by buying seconds at the market. These slightly flawed “ugly” fruits and vegetables aren’t usually displayed on farmers’ tables so you’ll have to ask for them. But it will be worth your while. Seconds pack the same rich, deep flavors of their flawless-looking counterparts at a fraction of the price.
Each summer, Chef Holly Jivin looks for tasty tomatoes and works them into the menu at The Bazaar by Jose Andres. This week, she’s eyeing the cherry tomatoes from Coastal Organics, Maggie’s Farms and Tutti Frutti. The sweet pint-sized tomatoes are perfect for a refreshing caprese salad. Find her recipe for Not Your Everyday Caprésé below.
Not Your Everyday Caprésé by Chef Holly Jivin
Caprésé Salad Ingredients
4 Marinated Tomatoes (recipe follows)
4 Mozzarella Spheres (recipe follows) or Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls
1 tbsp Pesto (recipe follows below)
4 drops balsamic reduction
4 small tips of basil leaves, for garnish
black pepper, to finish
Maldon sea salt, to finish
extra virgin olive oil, drizzle to finish
1 cup mirin
1 cup Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar
First, blanch the cherry tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Take a small pairing knife and make a slit at the pith — that’s the top — of the tomato. Dip the cherry tomatoes into the boiling water for 7 seconds, then place them in an ice water bath. When they have cooled, delicately peel off the tomato skins starting at the pith where the incision is. After the skin has been removed, the tomatoes are ready to be marinated.
Next, make the marinade. Mix the mirin and the vinegar, and toss the blanched tomatoes in the marinade. Refrigerate for one hour. Then remove the tomatoes from the marinade with a slotted spoon. The tomatoes are now ready to be plated.
To serve: put some pesto (see recipe below) evenly on a bowl or plate. Then randomly place the tomatoes, mozzarella spheres (see recipe below) and croutons on the plate. Add the balsamic reduction and top each tomato with basil. Finish the dish with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.
2 cups basil (picked leaves, no stems)
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
¾ cup Aberquina extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
½ tsp lemon juice
Put the olive oil, garlic, Parmesan and pine nuts in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the basil and puree again. Add ½ teaspoon lemon juice. The pesto is now ready to be served.
1 cup fresh mozzarella
½ cup of the mozzarella water the cheese is stored in
½ cup cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Texturas algin
4¼ cups bottled water
Next, make the mozzarella spheres. (A note here: If this is too time-consuming, you can always buy Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls and use them instead.) Warm the cream and pour it over the mozzarella. Using a hand mixer, puree both ingredients and add the mozzarella water and the salt. Pour the puree into a container and allow it to sit overnight. The point of this step is to allow all the air to be released from the mozzarella-cream mixture. If air is present, the spheres you end up with will float in the algin bath.
To make the algin bath, blend the algin in water for 2 minutes. Then let this mixture sit in a cooler overnight. We recommend using Texturas algin. Recipes for making algin baths vary based on the brand you use.
Once the mozzarella-cream base and the algin and water have been allowed to sit overnight, it is time to make the mozzarella spheres. Take a teaspoon of the mozzarella-cream base and drop it into the algin bath. It will take some practice to make perfect circles. Let the spheres sit in the algin bath for 3 minutes, then flip them with a clean slotted spoon. In 3 minutes, remove the spheres with your clean slotted spoon and rinse them in clean water. Store the spheres in extra virgin olive oil in shallow flat pans. Each time you drop teaspoons of the mozzarella-cream base into the algin bath, make sure to rinse your slotted spoon in clean water.