Who doesn't like seared and melted cheese? The crust is the best part of the provoleta.
It's nice to cook and serve this in a shallow, enameled cast-iron gratin dish. Be advised that it will smoke up your kitchen.
This will be on the menu at Del Campo, Victor Albisu's new restaurant in Penn Quarter.
Servings: 4 appetizer servings
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, preferably small ones
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- One 1-inch-thick slice provolone (12 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Leaves from 2 stems flat-leaf parsley
- Leaves from 1 stem basil
- Leaves from several stems watercress
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices country bread, toasted, for serving
Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium heat.
Sprinkle half of the oregano and half of the crushed red pepper flakes onto the thick slice of provolone, pressing them into the top side of the cheese. Place the cheese on the griddle, seasoned side down. Cook for about 2 minutes, until you see the bottom start to caramelize, then turn it over and cook until the second side starts to brown and the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with the remaining oregano and crushed red pepper flakes, then drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Remove from the heat.
Toss the parsley, basil and watercress in a mixing bowl with the remaining teaspoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the hot cheese among individual plates, with equal portions of the herb salad alongside. Serve right away, with the toasted slices of bread for scooping up the cheese.
From Victor Albisu, chef at Del Campo in Penn Quarter.
Tested by Jim Webster.
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