Summer Beans in Tomato and Almond Pesto with Stracciatella
Source: Josh Even, Tosca Café
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on July 23, 2016.
Tomato Pesto (yields several cups, more than needed for the overall recipe)
1 cup whole almonds
14-16 small-medium tomatoes, or enough to yield 4 cups after peeling and seeding (Jaune Flamme variety preferred)
2 tablespoons pickled Fresno chili, seeded and puréed
1 tablespoon flake sea salt, such as Jacobsen or Maldon
4 large cloves garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound assorted fresh summer beans
Flake sea salt to taste, such as Jacobsen or Maldon
½ cup tomato pesto
8 leaves basil
¼ cup tomato “water” (see below)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (grated fresh with a microplane zester)
1 cup Stracciatella cheese (burrata or other buffalo milk mozzarella can be substituted)
To make the pesto and tomato “water”: preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until golden brown throughout, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath large enough to fit the tomatoes comfortably. Remove the stems and stem ends from the tomatoes. Score the bottom of each tomato with a shallow “x.” Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add the tomatoes and blanch for 20-30 seconds, or until the skin just starts to peel back from the cut “x.” Do not blanch them so long that they cook, but just long enough so the skin can be easily removed. Plunge the tomatoes into the ice bath. Leave them in the ice just long enough to chill all the way through. Once chilled, peel each tomato and squeeze gently over a bowl to catch the liquid and seeds. Repeat until all of the tomatoes are peeled and seeded. Strain the juice that comes from the inside of the tomatoes through a fine sieve and reserve (this the tomato “water”).
Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse them until coarsely chopped, slightly finer than corn kernels. Put them aside in a bowl large enough to comfortably hold the remaining pesto ingredients. Add 4 cups of the peeled and seeded tomatoes with the pickled chili purée and salt to the food processor. Grate the garlic cloves with a microplane zester and add to the ingredients in the processor. Pulse until broken down a bit but still chunky. Add the olive oil and pulse once more. Add the tomato mix to the bowl with the almonds and fold together until well incorporated. Season to taste with more salt, if needed.
To make the beans and finish the dish: Trim the stems from the beans and cut any particularly long beans in half on the bias. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Choose a thick-bottomed sauté pan large enough to cook all of the beans in one snug layer. Heat the pan over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add the olive oil and quickly add the beans to the pan. Give the pan a good shake and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the beans to color and just blister on one side. Flip the beans over, season them with salt, and place the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake about halfway through. The beans should begin to lose their crunch and get a bit tender at this point.
Remove the pan from the oven and add the ½ cup of pesto. Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle them over the mixture. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the pesto loses a bit of its raw tomato flavor. Add the tomato water and parmesan. Fold everything together. The sauce should begin to tighten with the addition of the cheese. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Once seasoned, add the Stracciatella and fold it in so the cheese begins to melt slightly and you can see the streaks of white throughout the beans. Transfer the mixture to a platter and drizzle with olive oil before serving.