appetizers, tapas
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Eating Together: Small Plate Supper, Romesco Sauce and Fresh Basil Pesto

Eric and I (yes, the Man of the House has a name) have been making small-plate suppers since we first met. Sometimes we would have a variety of cheeses, charcuterie, olives and bread; other times we’ll make a spread of other small dishes like the ones we had last night:  caprese salad made with burrata cheese and pesto, gigantic beans with rosemary and garlic, grilled Brussels sprouts, pan-fried sardines with romesco sauce and of course, a crusty baguette.  I love these types of meals because they force us to slow down and breathe; really enjoy the food and savor good conversation over a nice glass of wine.  I feel that in this day and age where everything happens so fast and there are so many distractions vying for our time, the time spent together sitting and enjoying a meal is so important.  It doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy, just prepared with love.

Pan-fried sardines with romesco sauce
I know a lot of you are probably looking at this and thinking “yuck”; but these pan-fried sardines were really tasty, not to mention inexpensive, sustainable and very healthy!  They are full of Omega-3 fatty acids!  I chose the type that are packed in olive oil and you’ll want the type with the skin on.  The skinless/boneless type are more expensive and they don’t hold together very well when frying.  They were only $1.50 a can!  I squeezed some lemon juice over them, dredged them in semolina and pan fried them in a little olive oil.  Simple and delicious!  The romesco sauce is a really great compliment to the fish.  We are in the process of trying to find fresh sardines, but haven’t had much luck.  If anyone knows of a source for them in Southern Nevada, please let me know!

I used semolina for these, but I’ve also dredged them in corn meal with very successful results.  

Romesco Sauce is a red pepper based sauce from Catalan, Spain.  It is very easy to make and took only a few minutes and it is delicious served with fish.  This recipe was found in Williams-Sonoma’s Seafood cookbook and it’s my go-to recipe.  It was also a great way to use a stale baguette.

Toast 1/2 cup of bread cubes and 1/2 cup of raw almonds in a saucepan with one tablespoon of olive oil.  

Roast a red bell pepper in the broiler or on a hot grill until evenly charred.  Place the pepper in a paper bag and allow it to cool.  After it cools, peel and seed the pepper and add to food processor or blender.  Add the toasted bread cubes and almonds to the food processor along with 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste.  Puree until it becomes a grainy sauce.  I had jarred roasted red peppers on hand, so I used about 5 pieces for this sauce.  

Romesco Sauce
Grilled Brussels Sprouts

The simplest preparation.  The sprouts were sliced in half and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and placed on a hot grill.  They took about 5 minutes.  After removing from the grill, I squeezed a little fresh lemon juice over them.  They got a little more charred than I’d planned, but that only increased the sweetness of the sprouts.

Gigantic Beans with rosemary and garlic

I saw these “Gigantic Beans” at Trader Joe’s and wanted to give them a try.  I just placed them in a pan with two sprigs of rosemary, minced garlic, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.  The beans were packaged in a tomato sauce.

Last but not least, a lovely twist on a Caprese salad using slow roasted tomatoes, Burrata cheese and pesto made from basil we grew in the garden.  This salad is luscious.  Burrata cheese is made from the leftovers from making fresh mozzarella mixed with cream.  The outside has a very soft skin and the inside is soft and creamy.  I was able to find this burrata cheese at Trader Joe’s.  Eric makes pesto the traditional way, with a mortar and pestle.  Our basil was ready for a trim so I picked a good amount to make this salad.  Both purple basil and sweet basil were used in the pesto, which gave it its interesting color.  This recipe was inspired by Chef Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles.

Burrata Caprese Salad


Roast roma or campari tomatoes (or other small to medium sized tomato) in a 300 degree oven for one and a half hours.
Toast 2 tablespoons of pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden and put into a mortar.

Grate one clove of garlic on a microplane (or press or finely mince the garlic) and add to the pine nuts along with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  Using your pestle, grind the pine nuts, garlic and salt to a paste.  

Roughly chop 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, with stems removed and add to the mortar and continue to grind. Slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil, followed by the zest and juice from one lemon.
Add 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Spoon on top of burrata cheese or fresh buffalo mozzarella and serve with the roasted tomatoes.
Happy Eating!

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This entry was posted in: appetizers, tapas

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Hello and thank you for visiting my blog, Salty Sweet Life! My name is Tracey and nothing makes me happier than cooking for my friends and family. Food is my passion, whether I'm trying out a new restaurant, delving into a cookbook or mixing up a cocktail.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad and That Time I Broke the Cat. | Salty Sweet Life

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