One of the great things about loving to cook is the loss of fear in a restaurant. That sentence was wordy, I know, but let me explain myself. I read a lot about food. I crawl into bed with cookbooks (current read is “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison). I ask everyone who will listen about food. I ask parents what they love to cook and kids what they love to eat. I check food blogs online. So much of my mental capacity is absorbed by food. I carry this need to absorb all things food into restaurants. A great friend (Florian Z.) taught me that the more you know about food, the more you can ask. Florian himself is a great foodie. He has a taste for finer things in life and taught me how to chop onions and make my first galette. Florian also taught me that there is no shame in asking a waiter about the menu. If I don’t know an ingredient, I ask. If I want to understand how something is prepared, I ask. All that asking leads me to today’s recipe. Once upon a time Danny and I were enjoying an anniversary dinner several over an amazing tomato salad (and just in case you were wondering, we’ve been married for 17 blissful years. He’s my bestie.). My first taste of the salad was beautiful, the second taste was remarkable, by the third bite I was beyond help. I had to have the recipe or I was going to implode. When the waiter came by to check on us, I stood up, grabbed his lapels and said “Give me the recipe to that salad! End my misery!” Stellina’s Warm Tomato Salad rocked me to my core. And in honor of tomato season, I pass this gem to you, dear reader.
Warm Tomato Salad (Stellina Restaurant)
4-6 ripe plum tomatoes cut into 8-10 pieces
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves minced garlic
5-6 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz. fresh goat cheese
4-8 slices of crusty Italian bread
Brush the bread slices with olive oil, place under broiler or over grill until lightly browned. Arrange on a large platter. Heat remaining olive oil in a sautee pan with the garlic. Just as the garlic starts to turn color, add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Toss with a large spoon until just heated through (Hint: don’t overcook to the point where the tomatoes bring to disintegrate). Spoon the warm salad over the bread slices with goat cheese on the side.