We saw some really nice heirloom tomatoes at our Whole Foods the other day (we also saw San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom but that's another story) - and SippitySup's tomatomania contest was fresh in my head. I came up with this recipe thinking about putting a new twist on the ubiquitous caprese salad.
By breading and frying the tomatoes, you get a little crunch, and their sugars begin to caramelize. Their natural sweetness is enhanced by the honey in the reduction and the acidity adds a POP that would otherwise be missing with only the cheese, basil, and tomatoes.
The key to pulling this off, isgetting everything set so that you can plate it in a jiffy, serve, and eat while it's still piping hot. Once you begin to cook the tomatoes, they’ll start to break down, so work quickly. Half the texture is in keeping a little bite to the tomatoes to contrast with the soft cheese.
· 2 nice heirloom tomatoes, a red and a green preferably
· 1 cup of ricotta, I used "part skim"
· 1/4 cup of basil, minced fine
· 1/4 cup flour
· 1/4 cup bread crumbs
· 1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated
· Salt & pepper
· 1 cup red wine vinegar (homemade is best!)
· 1 tablespoon honey
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 tablespoons butter
Begin by reducing the red wine vinegar with the honey in a small pot over medium heat, this step will take the longest. Mix your basil and the ricotta in a bowl. Slice the tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick, thicker slices hold up better and are less likely to fall apart.
Combine the flour, bread crumbs, and the Parmesan cheese on a large plate so that you can dip the tomato slices into it easily. Be sure to season the bread crumb mixture well with salt and pepper, about a tablespoon of each. It may seem like a lot, but not all of it will stick to the tomatoes.
I recommend a non-stick pan for this because the breading is likely to separate from the tomato otherwise. Add a tablespoon each of the olive oil and the butter to the pan, and put on medium-high heat - you are not supposed to heat a non-stick pan dry. Once the butter begins to foam, quickly dip the tomatoes into the breading so that you get an even coat on both sides (don't do this ahead of time or you will make glue). Place into the pan.
Fry until GBnD (Golden Brown and Delicious), about 2 minutes on each side. Place one tomato slice on the plate, add a dollop of basil ricotta on top, then the other slice of tomato, then another dollop of ricotta. Spoon a drizzle of the vinegar reduction around the sides. Serve immediately.
Makes enough for 2.