I am very happy to welcome you, dear reader, to tomato week! In the next five days, I will be sharing three tomato recipes with you. Tomatoes are at the peak of ripeness here in Nashville; they are so good and we love them so much that we have a Tomato Art Festival. It has been voted "Best Festival" by Nashville Scene reader polls for the last four consecutive years. Yes, it's just that great. And it's this Saturday, if anyone's interested.
"The tomato: a uniter, not a divider," I read on @TomatoArtFest when I woke up last Saturday morning. This rang especially true to me. When I was little, even my pickiest friends swooned when my Mom nestled a slice of sweet tomato between two pieces of white bread and a little bit of mayo. Everyone likes a good tomato.
I knew I wanted to start my tomato week with a dish that would bring people together. What that dish was...well, that was up to the tomatoes. After waiting out Saturday's rain, I walked to the Nashville Farmers Market. Katie, who had a "love affair with a tomato" last time she visited, helped me pick out two heirloom tomatoes. One was bright red, the other golden yellow. Each weighed in at about a pound. As we walked home, we talked about all the things that make the flavor of tomatoes pop: eggs, basil, rosemary, bacon, cheese, pasta, olives, capers, artichokes...
With tomatoes as scrumptious as these, cooking them was out of the question; pairing them with something too bold (like olives) or too heavy (like brie) seemed sinful.
We finally settled on a tall, rustic crepe stack and planned to eat it at brunch the next day.
It was just right. I made the crepes with dark, earthy buckwheat flour. They were "thin as lady's undergarments" and sauteed gently in small pools of sweet butter until golden brown and ever so slightly crispy. I layered them simply with ricotta cheese and thick, juicy slices of tomato. The ricotta was chilled and sweetened with fresh, minty basil and smooth, creamy raw honey. The tomatoes were dressed with just a kiss of kosher salt. I especially liked how they peaked out of the edges of the stack, as if they were shy. I topped the whole thing off with warm, toasted pine nuts.
The best part was cutting into it. The red and yellow tomatoes formed a beautiful mosaic on the sides of each slice. I served it with a piece of crispy applewood smoked bacon and a fried egg. All of the red and yellow colors seemed happy on the plate together. And we were happy with them. Happy and full.
Katie, Andrew, Coy and I spent nearly two hours lingering over brunch. We talked and laughed; we took pictures; we sipped coffee. We enjoyed each other's company.
Tomato Crepe Stack:
4 large crepes (I used this recipe from Gluten Free Girl)
two tubs of ricotta cheese
4t raw honey
2 one pound tomatoes (preferably heirloom), sliced
kosher salt to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Put one tub of ricotta cheese into food processor with a large handful of basil and honey. Puree until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup basil ricotta to dress the very top. Layer stack in the following order: crepe, plain ricotta, tomato slices, salt, crepe, basil ricotta, tomato slices, salt... repeat. Scatter pine nuts across the top. Serve immediately.