Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Fiore di Nonna’

OK, so everyone make their own batch of pesto? No? Just jump down to the previous post for the recipe. Don’t feel like it? That’s OK too. You can go ahead and just look at the pictures. I won’t judge.

As a back story to this, you should first know that I have been completely and totally OBSESSED with tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwiches this summer. It’s one of the only recipes of which I will confidently stand up and say that you will find no version better than mine. I’ve tried caprese sandwiches in restaurants and margarita versions in sandwich shops…nope. Mine’s better. It’s better than the version they sell at the Iggy’s stand, even.

IMG_3671

Now, it’s a sandwich, so I can’t take credit for it based on my culinary prowess or anything like that. It’s all about the ingredients. For the best sandwich ever, follow these steps exactly. You’ll notice that you’re at a distinct disadvantage if you don’t happen to live in the Boston area.

1). Bread: Must be Iggy’s Francese. No other bread will do. I’ve tried it. The ONLY acceptable substitute I’ve found is the Concord loaf from Hi-Rise Bakery in Cambridge.

2). Tomatoes: Fresh farmer’s market tomatoes. In August. The sandwich just doesn’t taste the same in September, and certainly not October. Sigh. I like it equally well with a standard tomato or an heirloom variety. The heirloom will be a little sweeter, the red will impart more traditional Italian flavors. Place two thick slices (about a quarter inch) on your bread.

IMG_3251

3). Fresh mozzarella: I strongly recommend Narragansett Creamery for your mozzarella. Don’t get me wrong, I love Fiore di Nonno just as much as everyone else, but Narragansett’s mozzarella is just in a category of it’s own. Get the balls in water if you can — they will be the softest, creamiest mozzarella you’ve ever had. And with that, I just started salivating. Put 2-3 quarter inch slices on top of the tomatoes.

4). Fresh basil: top your mozzarella with 4-6 leaves basil.

5). Dressing: another key. First, drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. I tend to use a basic Filippo Berio — but I’m sure it would be even better if you had a nice expensive gourmet olive oil. Christmas is coming if anyone wants to buy me some 😉 Next, drizzle balsamic glaze over the sandwich. I use Blaze and I swear by this stuff. Need to order more as I’m running low after this summer. It’s fantastic on roasted zucchini as well.

IMG_3267

6). Sea salt: also key! Any brand will do I suppose, so long as it comes in a grinder. You want the big chunks you get that way. Sometimes I’ll also do a little bit of fresh ground white pepper as well, but that’s completely optional.

IMG_2649

If you’re feeling kindly towards your meat-loving significant other, you can also make it with bacon, but that’s really just gilding the lily. Either way, serve with plenty of napkins.

IMG_2657

Um. Hungry Crafter? That’s wonderful, and it looks delicious, but… I thought you were going to talk about what I should do with this pesto I just made? Ah yes. I get a little excited when I talk tomato, basil, mozzarella. I needed to do it justice. This is going somewhere, I promise.

Now that you understand the depth of my sandwich obsession, you can understand what it means for me to fiddle with perfection. But fiddle I did! As soon as I made the pesto, I knew there was one thing I had to try right away. Tomato, pesto, mozzarella sandwich. Grilled.

IMG_3756

For this sandwich, I simply slathered some pesto on one of the slices of bread, layered on the mozzarella and tomato, and got ready to grill. No need to drizzle with oil, as there’s oil in the pesto; no need for salt, as the parmesan in the pesto provides enough of a bite. No Blaze, either — I wanted to let the pesto flavor shine. I did, however, use a pastry brush to dab some olive oil on the outside of the bread prior to grilling, to ensure a nice golden brown crunch.

IMG_3762

The verdict? Sometimes perfection is worth messing with.

IMG_3763

OK, so we’ve put pesto on a sandwich, we’ve eaten it on bread for snacks… How about a meal? Simplest thing ever: Boil water. Cook some pasta. Stir in pesto. Send your tastebuds on a trip to heaven.

IMG_3834

My only recommendation is to use a pasta shape that will hold the sauce well — think ridges and cupped shapes. See how you get little pockets of pesto with the Farfalle Rotonde? Be sure to pass some grated parmesan at the table as well. There’s no such thing as too much cheese.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Oh, happy days:  the Copley Sq. Farmer’s Market is open once again! I love the farmer’s market. Being early in the season, the produce is still somewhat light, BUT…guess what I found over at the Siena Farms stand?  No, not fava beans…but fava bean greens.

Needless to say, being a somewhat new convert to the fava bean, greens were a new concept to me.  They were piled up in a basket with a little sign that instructed you to try wilting them in olive oil and serving with lemon juice and sea salt.

Did I try it?  Well, of course…  How could I not?

And how did it go?  Let’s take a peek:

Ta dah!  Success.  And how did it taste?  Well, yummy, yes, but I don’t suppose that tells you much.  Supposedly they were to taste like fava beans themselves, but really, well, they tasted like fava bean greens.  Not like spinach, as I might have suspected, but closer to perhaps fiddleheads or maybe dandelion greens, with a subtle nutty/buttery infusion of fava. I would make them again.

Back at the farmer’s market, I made my way over to the Fiore di Nonno stand.  I actually discovered their handmade mozzarella cheese over a year ago.  Based in Somerville, MA, it’s about as fresh a cheese as you can find in these parts.  Today, however, it was time for something special:  their fig burrata!  Burrata, if you are unfamiliar with it, is basically a mozzarella cheese ball with a soft, creamy filled center.  This particular one was filled with mascarpone and fig jam, making a very sweet burrata.

And of course, you have to see the inside!

The mozzarella was wonderful, as you would expect: fresh, creamy, nicely textured. The burrata overall was a bit too sweet for my liking, however.  It actually reminded me quite a bit of the inside of a good cannoli. I should mention that, while truthfully I’m a good old-fashioned American mutt when it comes to ethnicity, there are Italians on both sides of my family. Add a childhood filled with homemade pasta, tomato sauce, sausages and pizzelles, and I generally consider myself Italian, particularly when I’m speaking about food (which I often do, clearly). That being said, I have a confession to make, which I will say very quietly: I don’t like cannolis. Now, I’m not saying I won’t eat them — there’s a big difference between not liking something and not eating something.  Unless you are my boyfriend.  But I digress. Bottom line, if you’re not crazy about the filling of cannolis, pass on the fig burrata and save it for someone who will appreciate it. They’re rare enough that they deserve to be savored appropriately. Should I happen upon the Fiore di Nonna stand again when they’ve got their roasted garlic and onion burrata, though, all bets are off.

It’s going to be a good summer. Have I mentioned I love the farmer’s market?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: