An underused tagine and the desire to use up spices bought at the Indian market are responsible for this dish, along with a basic love for Southern stewed tomatoes. The taste is at once deeply savory and sweet.
Serve with any slow-braised or grilled meat.
Servings: 6 - 8
Yield: Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups
- 3 cups peeled, diced ripe red tomatoes and their juices
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon regular or low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably black cardamom (available at Indian markets)
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced or cut into very thin strips
- 3 slices crusty baguette (about 2 ounces), chopped or torn into small pieces
- 4 ounces ricotta salata (salty, dense ricotta), crumbled or cut into shavings
- 8 basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut crosswise into thin strips (chiffonade; optional)
Combine the tomatoes and their juices, the orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar, soy sauce, cardamom and jalapeno in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep in mind that the tomatoes will be mixed with the bread and cheese, so don't worry if the mixture tastes undersalted.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, being careful not to let it brown. Add the bread pieces and cook/toast for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, so they are coated evenly and become lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Divide the tomato mixture among individual plates; top with the toasted bread pieces and cheese and, if desired, the basil. Serve warm.
From Top Tomato 2011 finalist Shari Saslaw of Cary, N.C.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.