Watermelon Jicama Salad

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I’ve finally fessed up to subscribing to People Magazine. I feel like it keeps me up-to-date on the who’s who and what’s happening. It’s probably not working because I’ve never been accused by my kids of being hip. But occasionally, there are recipes in the back pages of People, and some times I make them, like this fabulous salad.

It’s watermelon, jicama, Oaxaca cheese, arugula, and candied sunflower seeds, topped with a zingy lime dressing.

The chef is Matthew Trebek, who owns Oso restaurant in Harlem, New York. It serves Southwestern cuisine, and this salad is on the menu. The good thing is that it appears that Oso survived the pandemic.


Chef Trebek is also the son of Alex Trebek, who is a well known game show host in the U.S.

What I loved about this recipe are the two main ingredients – watermelon and jicama. When I went to California to attend college one of my roommates turned me on to jicama. She ate jicama with lime juice and salt, and that’s how eat jicama to this day.

And who doesn’t like watermelon?! Well, I actually have a friend who doesn’t, so I won’t share with him. However, because I still can’t drive because of my hand surgery, I’ve been relying on teenage grocery shoppers for my weekly deliveries. And I ended up with a yellow watermelon!


It tastes the same as the red, of course, but I’m weird about food colors. I prefer red watermelon and red tomatoes.

But I persevered, and wow this salad is incredible. I hope you make it. Seriously.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

1/2 medium shallot
1/2 serrano chile
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
4 ounces arugula
1/2 small seedless watermelon (20 ounces) cut into matchsticks
1/4 medium jicama (9 ounces) cut into matchsticks
6 ounces Oaxaca, cut into thin strips

Combine shallot, chile, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt in a blender jar. With blender running, add oil in a steady stream until blended, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Place sunflower seeds and remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has caramelized and amber in color, about 9 minutes.

Pour onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break apart into clusters.

Arrange greens, watermelon and jicama on a large platter. Scatter with cheese strips.

Top with candied seeds and add about 1/2 cup dressing.


Then dig in!

It’s really flavorful with the arugula mixed in with the other ingredients, and the dressing is fabulous.

I’m making it again soon, but omitting the candied sunflower seeds. I didn’t feel they were an integral part of the salad, but if you want crunch, include them.

Corn-Tomato Salad with Tapenade

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Did I need another French cookbook? A resounding NO, but when I read about this one, Dinner in French by Melissa Clark, published in 2020, I knew I would love it.

I love personal stories, so the introduction in this book was a great read. Ms. Clark tells the story about how her Great-Aunt Martha and Uncle Jack “dragged” her parents to Europe, and they fell in love with France. After she and her sister were born, the annual trips to France continued, sometimes renting houses, other times exchanging houses, which allowed them to stay put for a month AT A TIME, in various regions of France.

Ms. Clark writes about her cooking, “It’s all right there, rooted in my New York-Jewish-Francophile DNA. And my cooking ends up playfully and unmistakably French. At our house, the conversation might be in English, but dinner’s in French.”

According to Ms. Clark, “This salad is all about the contrast between the sugar-sweet corn and the salty olive tapenade. Since many commercial tapenade shamefully neglect to include anchovies along with the olives and capers, I like to make my own.” I do as well.

I did learn a trick from the author. She suggests microwaving whole corn cobs, 5 minutes for four. I simply wrapped them in a towel first. What I didn’t expect was that the husk part came off in basically one piece. No corn silk with which to deal. Fabulous trick.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad with Tapenade

For the tapenade dressing:
1 1/2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
4 ears fresh corn, cooked, kernels sliced off and reserved
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

Flaky sea salt, for serving
Sliced baguette, for serving

Combine the olives, basil, parsley, capers, oil, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic, and pepper in a blender. Pulse to form a coarse paste. Taste, and add more lemon juice if it tastes flat.

Toss the corn kernels, tomatoes, red onions, basil, and parsley together in a large bowl. Fold in just enough tapenade to coat the vegetables.


Sprinkle the salad lightly with flaky sea salt, and serve it with the remaining tapenade and some bread alongside.


There is actually quite of bit of tapenade “dressing” for this salad, so you can always spread it on the bread while enjoying the salad.

I also think white beans would be really good in this salad, along with the corn and tomatoes.

But as it is… fabulous. And a great idea to use tapenade as a base for a dressing. I added a bit more lemon juice.

This salad would be a perfect picnic salad, served alongside grilled chicken, ham sanwiches, or sausages.

Saltado with Shrimp

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Where I live, in a town of 50,000, there is no “fine” dining. There are three restaurants my husband and I go to (I can’t even say frequent) when I want a break from cooking. Sadly, we maintain low expectations. Otherwise, we’d be terribly disappointed, instead of just able to laugh things off.

It’s not only the lack of quality and consistency of the food, but the terrible menus (this problem is not limited to my town) and the crazy bad service.

The only exception is Mexican restaurants. Thank god for these. There are quite a few, and we have our favorites, but it took years for them to reach the quality they are today. I can’t count how many times we experienced rancid chips or stale chips, overcooked chicken, bad salsa, etc. And why serve queso that’s “free” but tastes like dish water?

Anyway, we are now enjoying happier times when it comes to local Mexican restaurants. My favorite is one with a salsa bar. My husband’s favorite serves decent tasting salsa, but it’s served ice cold, and I’m constantly removing tomato peels from my mouth, which drives me crazy. But my husband loves their quesadillas.

We were at this restaurant recently when I spotted a menu item called Saltado, which could be chicken, beef, or shrimp. I was served this lovely plate of food, after choosing shrimp version.

What I loved about this dish was that the shrimp were perfectly cooked, and it was fresh and light. This isn’t typical with Mexican food in Oklahoma, being that we’re so close to Texas. But this Saltado could have been served at a Mexican restaurant in Malibu.

It turns out that Saltado originates from Peru, but when I read about it, it was really nothing like what I was served, so I’m not going to get into it. Like the fact that’s it’s more of a Chinese stir fry with beef, vegetables, and French fries. What? Maybe I shouldn’t google.

So here is my rendition of Saltado.

Saltado with Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 poblano chile peppers, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of oil
1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, cleaned, peeled
Tajin seasoning or your favorite seasoning salt
Chopped cilantro

For serving:
Street-sized flour tortillas
Guacamole
Sour cream
Refried beans

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers and toss them around until there’s a bit of caramelization, then turn down the heat and sauté for 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes and seasoning, and cook gently until there’s no liquid in the skillet.

Once the vegetables are “dry” place them on a serving platter. Cover lightly with foil to keep warm and set aside.

Heat the same skillet, dried out with paper towels if necessary, with the oil. Over medium heat, sauté the shrimp just until they’re pink and opaque. Season them generously with Tajin Seasoning. Place the shrimp over the vegetables.

Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the top, if desired, and serve immediately.

Offer warm tortillas and bowls of guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gaillo or salsa. If you have (crazy) people eating who don’t like cilantro, serve it separately in a bowl as well.

If you prefer, roast the poblano peppers first, then peel, remove seeds, and chop. You won’t need to sauté them with the onions.

I also served refried beans heated with some cheese. At the restaurant they serve both beans and rice.


And, this mixture works really well for making shrimp tacos!

Crunchy Pea Salad

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I am American. Born here, bred here. But I’ve never been a big fan of American food. I just wasn’t raised on it. In fact, I can vividly remember the times I was subjected to traditional American dishes after I left home, like beanie weenies, jello salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and poppy seed dressing. The list is actually very long, I just don’t want to make anyone feel like they have to defend the kind of food on which he/she was raised. I was just fed differently.

My mother was raised in France, and knew no other way to create meals for my sister and I than the local farm-to-table approach. She shopped often, harvested from the ocean, the forest, and her own garden, made everything from scratch, and nothing went to waste.

When I was growing up, my mother made croissants and éclairs. I never had a donut. She also began learning about various global cuisines when I was a tween, so dinners were everything from Chinese hot pot, to Russian coulibiac, to Ethiopian wats. I had no idea what mac and cheese was. Frozen food, fast food and coke? Never. So I truly come by my food snobbiness naturally.

Years ago I left behind a friend in California when I moved to the Midwest after getting married in 1982. Although only 10 years my senior, she had a young family that I adored, and I was often invited for dinner. Spaghetti was an involved meal for her, even though she bought the sauce in a jar, the Parmesan in the green carton, and the garlic bread in a foil wrapper. But it was wonderful. I loved being at her house with her family, which I learned quickly was way more important than the food on the table.

Jeanne actually inspired me a lot, although I didn’t really realize it back then. I was quite young, and had no immediate plans on marrying and having children, but she was a wonderful mother and unconsciously I learned from her.

One day, she served a salad called crunchy pea salad. She had gotten the recipe out of one of her Junior League cookbooks*.

I am not going to say anything about those cookbooks, with plastic bindings and recipes like Aunt Susan’s Favorite Cake and Velveeta Rotel Dip. I’ve probably already lost followers from my anti-American food comments.

But this salad was great! And really unique!!! And to this day I’ve kept the recipe, and actually made it a few times. I’ve never heard of it elsewhere, or seen it on a blog, but I suspect it’s fairly well known considering the source.

You can’t beat the ingredients: peas, bacon, cashews, celery, green onions, and sour cream, which all go together beautifully. It’s great to serve at a picnic, or garden buffet, or even a brunch.

So thank you Jeanne for this recipe and your lovely family of which I got to be a part for a short time.

Crunchy Pea Salad

1 – 16 ounce package petite peas, thawed
8 ounces diced bacon
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup salted and roasted cashews
1 cup sour cream, divided
Approximately 1/3 cup vinaigrette, see below

Place the thawed peas over paper towels in a bowl and set aside.

Crisply fry the bacon bits and drain well on paper towels; set aside to cool.


Have your celery and green onions prepared and ready.

Since I didn’t have roasted and salted cashews, I actually roasted mine in the leftover bacon grease. I must say, they almost disappeared before I could put the salad together.

For the vinaigrette, I used a basic recipe as follows:

1/2 cup sherry vinegar, but apple cider will work just as well
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend everything together well. This recipe makes more than you need for the salad, so keep the leftover vinaigrette in a jar and refrigerate.

Separately, I blended 1/2 cup of sour cream along with only 1/3 cup vinaigrette for the salad. Shake it well in a jar and set aside.

To assemble the salad, remove the damp paper towels from the bowl with the peas. Add the celery and green onions.


Add the remainder 1/2 cup sour cream, and the dressing and stir gently to combine.

I placed the mixture in a serving bowl.


Normally, the bacon and the cashews would be included in the salad, but for the sake of photography, I sprinkled them both on top.

I also sprinkled some salt and coarsely ground pepper.

I served extra dressing, but even as a lover of dressings and vinaigrettes, no more is needed for this salad.

Make sure to add the cashews only at the last minute. The cashews are part of the crunch in the crunchy pea salad.

* Before you even think about writing a comment defending Junior League cookbooks of America, please know that I’ve actually been featured in one, and I’m very proud of that fact. Over the years, the cookbooks have really evolved, and now have normal bindings, gorgeous photos, and creative recipes. Below is a blurb from a write-up about me, in Cooking by the Boot Straps, published in the town where I live.

xx

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Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

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This recipe popped up from the Food 52 website, and once again, it was the photo that caught my attention. This is Louisiana barbecued shrimp, by Julia Gartland, slightly adapted from the book “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking“, by Toni Tipton-Martin, published in 2019.

I definitely like spicy, and I’ve always loved the spicy dishes of Cajun and Creole cuisines, so I just couldn’t resist making this dish.

Louisiana barbecued shrimp is that sort of magical dish that’s intensely flavored, easy to cook, and perfect for entertaining. But don’t let the name fool you.


As cookbook author Toni Tipton-Martin writes, “You won’t find any barbecue sauce in this dish of shrimp in spiced butter sauce. Barbecued shrimp is just the name Louisiana Creole cooks assigned to shrimp braised in wine, beer, or a garlic-butter sauce.

Ironically, a very similar recipe was on Laura’s fabulous blog recently, called Hummingbird Thyme, although called New Orleans BBQ shrimp! I say ironically, because I’ve never before come across this shrimp recipe, and now I have twice. It’s an omen!

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves, crushed
4 tablespoons (1/2) stick butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup fish or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound shell-on shrimp
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Hot crusty French bread, for serving

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, paprika and bay leaves. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the butter over medium-high until melted and sizzling. Add the garlic, spices, wine, stock, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.


Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 5 – 7 minutes; shake the pan as it cooks to help bring the sauce together. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to low, and cook, turning once, until the shrimp turn pink and firm, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the shrimp with parsley and serve immediately from the skillet with hot French bread to soak up the sauce.

This might be my new way to serve shrimp as an appetizer.

Although it could certainly be a meal as well.

I could also see doubling this delicious spicy sauce, and dribbling the shrimp over linguine.

The recipe is perfect just the way it is. I typically tweak everything, but besides adding some cayenne pepper flakes before serving plus some fresh thyme leaves, I left the recipe alone.

Just maybe pulverize the bay leaves more than just crush them, or you’ll be spitting out bay leaf pieces all day!

Salad with Beans and Sausage

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I was recently reading some of my French cookbooks, with the intention of having a French food night with friends, hopefully sooner than later. I’ve previously done this with Indian and Chinese cuisines, serving about 8 different dishes each time, just for the love of those cuisines.

When I was reading Patricia Wells’s book Bistro Cooking, I spotted a recipe I’d bookmarked years ago. I just had to make it.

It’s a salad of dressed greens, topped with warm white beans, warm smoked sausage, then topped with pistachios and chives. Sounds incredible, right?!

From Ms. Wells, “I’m crazy about composed salads, anything with a healthy bed of greens, on which you layer a mixture of full-flavored ingredients.” She was inspired to create this salad after a “mid-fall lunch at Paris’s Quai d’Orsay.”

She recommends using lingots, French white beans, and saucisse de Morteau, sausage from the Jura. And she suggests a young red, just slightly chilled, perhaps a Saumur-Champigny from the Loire.


The closest I found were sausages from Toulouse, the same sausage used in Cassoulet, and I substituted flageolets for the lingots, cause they’re French and in my pantry and I couldn’t find the French ones, which are a white kidney bean. Who knew?!

Salads aux Lingots et Saucisse de Morteau Quai D’Orsay

Beans:
10 ounces dried white beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt

Dressing:
4 shallots, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Sausage:
10 ounces smoked pork sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 cup dry white wine

Salad:
2 cups young curly endive, cleaned, dried, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Rinse the beans. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain the beans, discarding the cooking liquid. Rinse the beans and cover again with cold water. Add the oil, bay leaves, and thyme and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, about 1 hour. The beans should not be mushy, rather cooked through but firm. Add salt to taste.


Whisk the shallots with the lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream and whisk until blended. Season to taste. (I just used a jar.)

Drain the beans thoroughly. Add half of the dressing to the beans/ set aside and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, being careful not to pierce it. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and wine, and bring just to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Drain. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the greens in a large, shallow salad bowl. Pour on the remaining dressing and toss gently.

Divide the greens among 4 large plates, spreading the greens out and pressing them down to lie flat. Place several spoonfuls of the beans in the center. Cut the sausage into thin slices. Arrange them in a fan-like fashion around the edge of the beans.

Sprinkle with the pistachios and chives.

Serve warm.

White beans would have definitely been prettier, but this salad was spectacular.

Split Pea Soup

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Split pea soup. Easy. Cheap. Satisfying. Healthy. Well, depending how much sour cream you dollop on top…

My husband reminded me that he could eat split pea soup every day. The foods I could eat every day are in a very different category, but this soup is what he loves, so I make it for him, although obviously not often enough… and why not? For 99 cents and a little time, a hearty soup is hardly an effort. Plus some ham hocks.


Even though the weather is getting warmer, split pea soup with ham is still a springtime soup in my mind, but certainly satisfying during cold months as well. Here is a recipe I used to make my husband happy.(Trust me, he’s never unhappy with the many meals I continue to prepare for him. But I do like cooking for an appreciative soul.)


Split Pea Soup with Ham

16 ounces dried split peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ham hocks
8 ounces diced ham
Sour cream, optional

Soak the split peas in warm water for about 4 hours, then drain before starting the recipe.

Add the olive oil and butter to a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and give it a stir, then immediately add the soaked split peas and chicken stock. The broth or stock should cover the peas by at least 1/2 inch.


Add the seasoning, and bring the stock to a boil. Place the 2 ham hocks in with the peas, cover the pot, then simmer the peas for about 45 minutes; you can’t overcook the split peas.

Let the soup cool, either overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Remove the hocks and try to remove all of the ham bits from the bones. Set aside to use as garnish. If you choose, use an immersion blender to blend the soup smoother. It’s just prettier that way, but optional.

Add the diced ham to the soup, and heat. Then taste for seasoning.

Serve the hot soup with sour cream and the chopped smoked ham.

This soup could also be made with chopped carrots and/or potatoes.

When my daughters left home, they knew how to cook a pot of legumes, lentils, beans, and split peas. I think I taught them that cooking doesn’t have to cost a fortune, as well as the fact that home cooking isn’t difficult.

Walnut Cream Gnocchi

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Years ago my husband and I vacationed in Italy, visiting Lake Como, Venice, Verona, the Dolomites, Varenna, Cinque Terre, Florence, Umbria, Siena, and Rome, plus delightful villages in between. One day we had lunch in the beautiful and historically fascinating city of Siena. I remember it like it was yesterday – not only the city but also my lunch.


We had walked away from the touristy part of town, and discovered a restaurant-filled alley. We checked out posted menus, and finally just picked one eeny-meeny-miney-mo style. Honestly all of the restaurants had fabulous menus.

I ordered gnocchi with a walnut cream sauce, which could definitely be my last meal on earth if I had a choice in the matter. The gnocchi were bite-sized pillows – just what you’d expect in Tuscany. But the walnut cream sauce was heavenly.

I took before and after photos of my lunch, and fortunately, have never deleted them from my computer. They’ve been a constant reminder to try and duplicate the sauce. And yes, I left one gnocchi just to not feel piggy! But seriously, look at that serving?!

Once home, I pondered the different ways you can make a walnut cream sauce. It really depends how thick or thin you want it; one of my options was to make a walnut bechamel, but I chose to make a somewhat thinner sauce.

To keep it simple, I used gnocchi from the store. This is a fabulous product.

So here is my recipe for gnocchi in a simple walnut cream sauce, subtly infused with garlic. The prepared gnocchi can be served tossed in the sauce, with grated Parmesan passed around, or baked with the sauce and cheese first. Your choice!


Walnut Cream Sauce for Gnocchi
serves 2 or 4

6 ounces walnuts
12 ounces heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
4 ounces unsalted butter or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces gnocchi
Grated Parmesan

Toast the walnuts in a heavy skillet just until lightly browned. Let cool. I try to avoid the nut dust after toasting them.

Combine the walnuts and the cream in the blender jar. Process until smooth. You can see how thick the walnut cream becomes.

Turn on the oven to 400 degrees F if you’re going to bake the gnocchi. See * below. Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and gently warm it in the butter for a few minutes. Add the walnut cream to the garlic butter and whisk until combined.

* Fold in the prepared gnocchi gently, making sure they are all coated with the cream. Add the salt and taste. Once heated through, place them in a serving dish.

At this point the gnocchi can be enjoyed as is, with grated Parmesan passed around. This is how I had it in Siena.


For the baked version, pour the walnut-cream covered gnocchi into a buttered baking dish, and generously top with Parmesan.


Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until there’s some bubbling and browning. The baking dish could alternatively be placed under the broiler for a few minutes prior to serving.

I have to add that this isn’t the prettiest sauce in the world. The walnuts make the cream a bit off in color, but it’s so good I’m not sure anyone would care.

I also think some panko bread crumbs could be used on top for a little crunch, but next time…


Since creating this recipe, I’ve repeated it for company using 3 pounds of gnocchi, and for the sauce used 16 ounces of walnuts and 1 quart (32 ounces) of cream. It worked out perfectly, so I don’t think the nut-to-cream ratio is that critical.

This recipe is so good, and I’m stating that even though I “created“ it. Duplicating delicious meals, especially from traveling, is always fun.

Both versions, the baked and non-baked are fabulous. If you want to taste most closely what I had in Siena, don’t bake the gnocchi!

Mimi’s Tomato Pie

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I started making this savory pie when I was perhaps a young teenager. I’m pretty sure my mother had clipped the original recipe from McCall’s magazine. I loved the pie so much that I dubbed it “Mimi’s” tomato pie, which is a bit pompous. I think I was excited to finally learn to love tomatoes, which I hadn’t previously.

This savory pie is made with ripe tomatoes, so I only make it in the summer.

If you love the combination of tomatoes, Swiss cheese and bacon, and basil, you’ll love this pie. It’s simple and wonderful.

Mimi’s Tomato Pie
printable recipe below

Pie crust for 9” pie pan
Fresh Tomatoes
12 ounces sliced or grated Swiss cheese
Salt
Pepper
8 ounces bacon, preferably uncured bacon
Fresh basil

Bake the pie crust, lined with weights, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just lightly golden. Remove the weights and let the crust cool.


Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and place them on paper towels. They need to be as dry as possible so as not to mush up the crust. I use two sizes of tomatoes and two different varieties.


When you’re ready to assemble the pie, begin by placing 1/3 of the Swiss cheese on the crust.


Add 1/2 of the tomato slices, filling in as many holes as possible using the smaller slices.


Season the tomatoes generously with salt and pepper, then add the other half of the cheese and tomatoes, seasoning the tomatoes. You will end up with 2 layers of cheese and 2 layers of tomatoes.

Lay the bacon slices in a lattice or radial pattern on top of the tomatoes.

Bake the pie at for 30 minutes, then raise the heat up to 375 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes. The bacon should be cooked and the cheese bubbly.


Before serving, top the pie with a basil chiffonade, or simply strew basil leaves on top if you prefer.


The pie is good with a nice Viognier, an Albariño or a rosé.


Oh, and the pie is really good heated up for breakfast…

As I mentioned above, if you love tomatoes, cheese and bacon…

Tomato Pie

Pie crust for 9” pie pan
Fresh Tomatoes
12 ounces grated Swiss cheese
Salt
Pepper
8 ounces uncured bacon
Fresh basil

Bake the pie crust, lined with weights, at 350 degrees Farenheit until just lightly golden. Remove the weights and let the crust cool.
Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and place them on paper towels. They need to be as dry as possible so as not to mush up the crust.
When you’re ready to assemble the pie, begin by placing half of the Swiss cheese on the crust.
Add half of the sliced tomatoes, filling in as many holes as possible.
Season the tomatoes generously with salt and pepper, then top with the remaining cheese and tomatoes, again seasoning them with salt and pepper.
Bake the tomato pie at for 30 minutes, then raise the heat up to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.
The bacon should be cooked and the cheese bubbly.
Before serving, top the pie with a basil chiffonade, or simply strew basil leaves on top if you prefer.

Season

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In his first book, entitled Season, published in 2018, Nik Sharma writes the following.

“I take pride in incorporating flavors, techniques, and ingredients in new and exciting ways. This, my first book, celebrates diverse cultural influences and, I hope, helps to erase labels like “ethnic” and “exotic” in the West by shedding more light on some of these ingredients. Season is a collection of flavors from my two worlds – India and America.”

Sharma’s story is fascinating. Born in India to bi-cultural parents, he came to the USA as a young man to study molecular genetics. Eventually his love of food and cooking averted his career path and he started his now famous, award-winning blog, a Brown Table.

He also became a weekly food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and is working on his second cookbook, entitled A Brown Table.

Reading Season (I love that title!) and studying the recipes was a fascinating experience for me. Sharma’s food truly is fusion food, but unlike the “let’s see how many weird ingredients we can put together” attitude that I find smug and pretentious of many chefs, Sharma’s approach obviously came from his love of foods from his homeland, blended with what he discovered after moving away.

Examples of such fusion dishes include Caprese Salad with Sweet Tamarind Dressing, Turmeric and Lime Mussel Broth, and Hot Green Chutney Roasted Chicken. But the recipe I wanted to make was Chouriço Potato Salad, using freshly made chouriço, or sausage from the Goan region of India. Goa is a state on the west coast of India, on the Arabian Sea.


According to Sharma, “This (salad) is great for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs, or in a taco, or by itself for lunch.”

Chouriço Potato Salad

8 ounces chouriço, (recipe below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
1/4 cup crumbled Paneer*
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 fresh lime juice
1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Break the meat into small pieces and set aside.


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 5 – 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the chipotle chile and paprika and fold to coat evenly.

Add the chouriço, and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes, or until the sausage is browned and cooked through, stirring frequently.


Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for 1 minute longer.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a large bowl. Cool for 5 minutes. Gently stir the chives, paneer, cilantro, and lime juice into the warm potatoes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges, if desired.

I can’t describe well enough how wonderful this potato and sausage salad is, besides wonderful. The sausage along is exquisite, but with the potatoes it’s, well, magical.

You taste the spiciness immediately, the creaminess of the potatoes, the flavorful sausage, the freshness of the cilantro and lime, and the slight crunch of the pepitas.


*Paneer is easy to prepare, but the author recommended a swap of crumbled Cotija or queso fresco, which I happened to have on hand.

Homemade Goan-Style Chouriço

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 whole cloves
1 pound ground pork, preferably with fat
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chile
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grind the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, and cloves with a mortar and pestle and transfer to a large bowl.


Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a fork to blend well. Shape into a log, wrap with wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and preferably overnight.