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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes & Homemade Ricotta Salata (two components to my perfect meal)

I know, I many times can this chic say that bread, wine, and cheese make the perfect meal!?  Endless, I say...ENDLESS TIMES!  Can't help how I feel.  I would walk around armed with a sturdy yet totally awesome bag slung over my shoulder at all times, if I could.  This bag would contain a beautiful, yeasty loaf of handcrafted bread...a bottle of enchanting wine...and a wedge, hunk, container of cheese.  From time to time it may also have a stick of salami, a jar of something pungent and salty, or some juicy fruit nestled in between those necessities.  Of course it would also contain some sort of blanket or cloth for impromptu dining...a corkscrew...some linen napkins...and a book.  Oh, and a notebook w/ a pencil and my camera.  Whew, my bag is getting heavy. 

Let me just lay out my spread of the day...a fresh loaf of warm French bread from a local bakery...a bottle of Chardonnay...a little round of creamy, stinky, fabulous Boursin...a min-wheel of homemade Ricotta Salata, finished with Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt...and a jar of homemade, slow-roasted heirloom tomatoes, scented with basil and garlic.
Let's start with the tomatoes... oooohhhhh maaaaan, the tomatoes!  My garden is churnin' 'em out faster than I know what to do with them.  Not that I'm complaining...I'll figure something out.  I decided I wanted to gather up a bunch of the Tigerellas and slow-roast them.  They're bigger than a cherry tomato, yet smaller than your "average" tomato...just perfect, really.  The deep, sweet flavor that is concentrated by the slow heat is shocking!  The essence of summer permeates your entire being with each bite...a jolt to your system...conjuring memories of summers past...
Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes w/ Basil & Garlic
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tigerella tomatoes, halved crosswise
garlic cloves unpeeled
fresh basil, chiffonade
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 225° F.  Line a sheet tray with foil or parchment paper.  Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, on prepared tray.  Lay the garlic cloves around and in between.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with basil and a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Place in oven for ~4 hours, or until shriveled...with glistening juices resting in those wrinkled halves. 
I recommend removing the garlic cloves after about an hour or so and squeezing the soft garlic from its skin...and spreading it gloriously onto warm bread...or saving it to add to the tomatoes once they're finished. If you leave it in the oven for the entire time, it'll be brown and crispy...and rendered basically unuseable...and that's just heartbreaking.
Glorious when eaten warm or cold!!  If you want to store them, simply pack them into a jar, cover with olive oil, and refrigerate.

Moving on to the fresh, creamy cheese in my spread of the day... Boursin.  Creamy.  Herby.  Garlicky.  Fantastic.  I picked it up at the local market, so recipe here.  Second cheese... Ricotta Salata.  This one I an all too common cheeseslutty mood.
To make Ricotta Salata, you begin by making Ricotta...the easiest cheese to make in the whole wide world.  There are many methods for making ricotta, many using the whey left over from making other types of cheese...but if you just want to make Ricotta, follow this simple recipe.

from HTCEV by Mark Bittman

½ gallon whole milk
2 c. cultured buttermilk

Put the milk in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over med-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles up the side of pot, ~10 mins.  Add buttermilk, stirring constantly until mixtures separates into curds & whey.  Remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt.  Pour all into a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl.  Let sit for ~30-60 mins.  Scoop into a container and store in fridge.

So...that's easy enough, right.  To turn it into the firmer, saltier Ricotta Salata, it just needs a bit of pressing and aging.  It can then be sliced and eaten...or crumbled and tossed into a pasta dish or over soup or salad.  It should be used within a week of making.
Ricotta Salata
from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon

1 c. fresh Ricotta curds
4 tsp. kosher salt, or more if needed
To make a press, simply remove the top and bottom lids from a 28-oz. can and wash them well. 

Place the fresh ricotta into a press and press at room temperature for 3-4 hours.

Remove from press and coat the pressed cheese with at least 2 tsp. of the salt.  Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel, set on a plate and refrigerate for 2 days.

Remove wrap and rub with another teaspoon of salt.  Re-wrap with a clean kitchen towel and return to fridge for another 2 days. 

Repeat this process one more time.  The cheese should firm up considerably during this process.  I finished with a coating of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt that my friend Deb sent me...from Hawaii!
Both cheese were awesome shmeared onto the warm bread...either alone or topped with one of the slow-roasted tomatoes.  Oi, my stomach is totally screaming at me all over again!!!
Here's a gratuitous cheese shot for you...or for me, if that's not your bag...
I think it's time to pack up another bag...and trek out into the perfectly crisp and sunny Autumn afternoon...
*This post is linked to:
IHCC forgingfromagebutton2

Would you like to comment?

  1. I am married to a Frenchman so I so get you! Bread, wine and cheese. Sometimes salami and always a bit of fruit! Perfect! And I so want to try these tomatoes! When I was first married, husband taught me to slice the tomatoes in half, place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, top with finely chopped garlic, parsley then salt & pepper and roast - though only until cooked, not so long as you have. Serve them with grilled meat. Divine! But I want YOU to bring me some of this ricotta! Amazing!

  2. Mmm, all my favourite stuff! I love this style of fare, simple and delish. Bread, cheese, those lovely toms, and wine of course!

  3. you said it girl. bread, wine and cheese...and tomatoes - you have the ideal balanced diet right there. I am so impressed with your homemade ricotta salata! Really good stuff.

  4. Mouth watering and like other comments...some of my favorite fare. I've heard ricotta is easy; yours also looks beautiful!

  5. Joe and I are going to join you so you'd better bring a second bottle of wine. Portuguese for Joe. :o) Heather, you've outdone yourself again! What a wonderful post filled with wonderful homemade food. You are an artist! Thank you for linking up to my Cookbook Sundays and enjoy your wine, cheese and bread on this beautiful day!

  6. Wowwwwwwww, am speechless, awesome roasted tomatoes and ricotta cheese..

  7. Que delicia de platos, esto se ve autentico. Saludos

  8. you are so talented! There is no way mine would turn out that good. Looks mouth-watering!

  9. You got it going on, girl! A treat for the eyes ( I love your photos) and the recipes sound delish. Yum! And you're right, it IS perfect!

  10. OMG! I want all of this right now!! I hope you'll link up to Tailgating Times too. I know I love love this deliciousness on my football food buffet! YUMMY!

  11. Those pictures are luscious. Cheese never looked so good.

    Tell me how you did it. I just opened My Meatless Mondays and you were linked up. Do you do magic too? You are amazing.

  12. LOVE these pictures! And the food looks amazing, as usual. :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Wow this looks good. I have never had ricotta salata, I think that I am going to have to give it a try.

  14. Merhabalar, Ellerinize, emeğinize sağlık.(Bugün bloglardan seçmelerde lezzet adasının saç kavurması tarifi yayınlandı.(
    Sizinde her pazartesi yayınlamasını istediğiniz yemek tariflerinizi beklerim.


  15. Fuat...Ben üzgünüm ama ben sen çevirmeye yetenekli bana bu diğer blog bahsetmeyi deniyor değilim.

  16. Heather, you stole MY bag! And I want it back! :)
    I made ricotta many times, and do not like to buy it - it is so simple. But I have never progressed past its virginal self, into ricotta salata! I am so making this!

  17. LOL, Lana! They must have been sitting next to each other...and they looked so alike that I accidentally did the old switcheroo ;) !!

  18. Oh! Your's looks so good! Mine is a little more yellow because I used raw milk and cream from the jersey cows. Will link up to forging frommage tomorrow! Thanks for inspiring me babycakes! You wicked rock!

  19. Wow, homemade ricotta. I have a garden full of heirloom tomatoes that I'd love to try this with. Great post. I just ate and I'm hungry all over again!

  20. Now that's my idea of football food! YUM!

  21. Wonderful post dear!
    Everything looks good and sounds good!

  22. My two favorites ever, cheese and heirloom tomatoes. Great pictures. You have so many yummy recipes for me to drool over.

  23. That looks like a perfect meal to me- simple and delicious. The ricotta sounds easy and looks wonderful along with the tomatoes- must make some soon!

  24. Yes...the perfect meal and you make it look so good! They sure do upscale food tailgating now a days! :d

  25. cheese, slow roasted tomatoes and a hunk of bread = satisfying.

  26. Gorgeous post--the photos are making me drool! Definitely the perfect meal. So glad you are making good use of the sea salt. ;-)

  27. Hi,

    Looks so yummy and inviting!!

    Lovely clicks too!!

    tday being monday wanted to link but oops linky is closed again!


  28. Agreed! Bit of salami and nuts always great, but this is a wonderful complement!

  29. Love that red sea salt sprinkled in the cheese. I have some of that and salt and love it. Gotta make me some ricotta. Thanks for the recipe.

  30. This looks like a truly delicious combo. Cannot get enough of those slow roasted tomatoes (and that says a lot coming from a cheeseslut like myself!)

  31. Looks awesome !! lovely tomatoes..


  32. Oh my goodness - those tomatoes - yum! I've got a real glut of cherry tomatoes from my garden so I think I have found a very delicious use for them thanks to you! (And I totally agree with you on the wine, cheese and bread thing - as does my husband!)

  33. Wow...I wasn't hungry before I started reading but I am now. Thanks for posting all the beautiful pictures. Now I've got to add making ricotta, along with your previously posted cultured butter, to my list of things of recipes to try.

  34. These tomatoes are gorgeous! I've got a surplus of tomatoes too, and this sounds like a great idea.
    And by the way, I like what you put in your bag...mine would contain similar things!

  35. Roasted tomatoes rock! And so does homemade ricotta salata, one of my favorites. I imagine the two together are divine. If you left that bag next to me I would so 'borrow' it and have my own picnic behind a tree somewhere! Of course I would return it when my tummy was all full...

  36. Aaaah! A woman after my own heart :-) Your tomatoes look heavenly and I am really going to try that ricotta - I have been trying to get brave enough to try making my own cheese, but I think even I can manage this.

  37. I love slow-roasted tomatoes. I have been drying them, and now I'm making my homemade tomatoe soup to freeze. I go through gallons of it every winter. So good with a grilled cheese (although not as good as your homemade cheese) sandwich.

  38. This is another beautiful post! I love the pressing of the cheese. I really need to join up on the cheese challenge!
    Thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday, it's good to see you each week.

  39. Heather, this is the first recipe that gives really taste tomatoes. Thank you. Connie of