Monday, August 2, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes with Almond Basil Cheese and Basil Pesto

One of our favorite dishes this summer was made even more spectacular with the succulent heirloom tomatoes we bought from Brooklyn Grange Farm.  

You can whip up the nut cheese with almonds, cashews or macadamia nuts.... or a combination.  Use your herb(s) of choice. I sometimes use a mix of parsley, cilantro and basil. The cheese pictured here has basil. It's super easy to make. You just need to make sure to soak the nuts overnight. I made this pesto using basil from our trip on Saturday to our new CSA. Here's a quick recipe for each:

Almond Basil Cheese

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)

Place all items in a food processor and process until the mixture takes on a paste-like texture but remains a bit coarse.  Shape into whatever form you'd like. I used plastic wrap to form my nut cheese into a log so that I could slice it and place it nicely on my heirloom tomato slices.

Basil Pesto

I never measure when I make pesto. The quantity of ingredients you use depends on the quantity of herbs you have available.  We bought about a pound of basil from Brooklyn Grange.

1 pound of basil, leaves only
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper (to taste)

Lightly toast pine nuts either in the oven or on the stovetop. Let cool. Mince garlic in a food processor. Add cooled pine nuts and pulse until paste-like texture. Add basil leaves, miso, half the salt and half the pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour in the EVOO.  Process until you achieve a creamy consistency. This pesto becomes creamy because of the miso paste. Taste your pesto and determine if it needs more salt and/or pepper.

Slice your heirloom tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick.  Same goes for the almond cheese. Place a piece of cheese on the tomato slice. With a teaspoon, place a nice size dollop of the pesto on the cheese.

As always, try to use certified organic ingredients as often as possible. When buying from a farmer's market, feel free to ask the vendor how they grow their crops.


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