Sandwich Wednesday: Prosciutto Caprese

I enjoyed a sandwich last Wednesday with one of my friends (Dan Z) who also has summer afternoons free. This summery sandwich was made with Washington Boro tomatoes that I bought at the tomato festival. I got the rest of the ingredients at Mandro’s Imported Foods. They have a great selection of meats and cheeses. I got a frozen baguette made by Slow Rise Bakery (they carry it at Mandro’s). These baguettes are baked, froze, and then placed in your oven for 5-10 minutes. They taste like they are freshly baked right out of your oven in your home! And they get nice and crispy, but not too hard. They are perfect for sandwiches because you can bite through them easily. I hate when I get bread that is hard to bite into… then all of your sandwich fixin’s squeeze out of sandwich… you know what I mean… bummer.

To build this sandwich, I started with the warm toasty baguette and drizzled good olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar from Global Gardens over the inside. I laid two slices of very thinly sliced prosciutto down – don’t over do it, two is plenty. Top that with sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, sliced summer tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cover it with the top of the baguette. Simple and delicious. A perfect summer sandwich.

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Food Photography and Caprese Salad

Last month, my photographer friend Jason Bleecher took some photos of some food I created. I’ll be sharing the photos and the recipes over the next few weeks!

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

1/2 cup good quality Balsamic vinegar

3 fresh mozzarella balls

3-4 medium size red and yellow heirloom tomatoes

1 cup of red and yellow cherry tomatoes

purple and green basil leaves

Salt and pepper

Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a small pan, reduce the balsamic vinegar to half over medium heat. Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and half the cherry tomatoes. Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella in alternating layers on the plate. Chiffonade the green basil and spread it over the salad, garnish with purple basil leaves. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction and olive oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper.

Simple and delicious, especially when tomatoes are in season.

Stirred Up Caprese Salad… With Shrimp!

This is super easy!

1/2 lb. medium sized shrimp, cleaned and deveined

4 tbsp. olive oil

12 large basil leaves

1 large ball of fresh mozzarella

8 oz. heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

You don’t have to use heirloom tomatoes but I love the colors! If you want to plant some in your garden, look for a variety of grape tomatoes called Isis Candy. They are sweet and the plants that I had the last few years produced tomatoes that were all different colors all on the same plant!

Cut the tomatoes in half, cube the mozzarella into similar size chunks, and chiffonade the basil. I used purple basil this time because I found it at market the other day and I love the color. It was so aromatic that the smell traveled out of my market bag and up to my nose the whole walk home.

Place the cleaned shrimp in a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil, half of the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir it up until all of the shrimp are coated in olive oil. Heat you pan to medium-high heat. Place the shrimp into the pan in a single layer. Cook the shrimp until it turns pink and it is opaque all the way through. Try not to over cook it or you’ll end up with rubbery shrimp. Place your shrimp in a shallow dish and let it cool for a few minutes.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes, basil, and cubed mozzarella to the dish. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together to be sure everything is coated with the vinegar and oil.

This is a simple salad but it will impress your guests! We had it the other night along side the cool cucumber soup.

Crispy Prosciutto and Cherry Tomato Pasta

I had a great dinner with Dan out on the back deck last night. The weather was breezy and cool outside, it reminded me of a nice fall day. It is still the last bit of summer and the tomatoes are still flowing so I made another pasta dish with raw tomatoes.

I got these really nice heirloom cherry tomatoes from Sweet Annie Produce at Central Market this week. They were dark in color almost looking forest green on top. If you want to find them, the variety is called black cherry. It’s supposed to be easy to grow and have a sweet smoky flavor. I think they are great for pasta dishes because they are pretty hearty and hold up to some bolder italian flavors. Good tomatoes are such a bargain this time of year and we are eating a lot of them. I feel like I should eat my fill because come October they will start to disappear.

Fun fact I learned from the Today Show on Monday: Tomatoes can help prevent sunburn… because of the phytochemical lycopene! I wrote a whole paper on lycopene for my nutrition class in college. I think phytochemicals are pretty neat <insert dork comment here>. You could also build up your lycopene by eating ketchup. Lycopene actually intensifies when it is cooked!

Here’s the recipe for this fabulous pasta, it’s simple, quick and easy:

Crispy Prosciutto and Cherry Tomato Pasta

6-8 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin

12 oz. farfalle (or your pasta of choice)

2 large balls of fresh mozzarella

1 quart black cherry tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped

a big handful of purple basil leaves

a big handful of parsley leaves

Lay the slices of prosciutto on an aluminum foil or parchment covered baking sheet. Place it in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (depending on how thick your slices are). The prosciutto will turn crispy and brittle and look kind of like bacon. Let it cool before handling it, it will be hot! When it cools you should be able to crumble it into small pieces. It is so much better than bacon! Once you try making this you’ll have a hard time going back to bacon crumbles for your salads. You can use the crispy prosciutto on anything! It is great with eggs, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. Try putting it in potato salad, yum!

Just a note* these slices were a little small so I used extra, I think they were cuts from the end of the piece of prosciutto so they were not as long as slices of prosciutto usually are. This filled up a medium sized baking sheet in a single layer. Use however much you want, it really depends on how much you like it!

Cook your pasta to Al dente and prepare your other ingredients.

Slice the black cherry tomatoes in half. If you can not find heirloom cherry tomatoes, use any kind of good cherry or grape tomatoes.

Cube the fresh mozzarella, chiffonade the basil and chop the parsley.

Mix these ingredients together and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. You could eat it just like this too, it makes excellent tomato basil salad!

Saute the onions and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent. Mix the onions and garlic into your tomatoes and mozzarella mixture, add in your pasta and crispy prosciutto and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and you are done, easy! I had a little white peach sangria with this dish and enjoyed a great dinner on the deck.