As you know I’m always introducing my kids to new foods. Some of them are super weird and others are……..well……….. more like somethings you would learn to like when you are thirty! None the less it’s always an adventure. Last week I found some beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the market. Tomato season came a little late this year here in Oklahoma because of our crazy weather and I was pretty pumped to see these beauties! Man Poe also gave me some gorgeous garlic that a friend shared with him and I was in gastro-heaven!
Now tomatoes and garlic are usually not on the top ten list for kid foods. My kids however are usually willing (if I bribe then and promise to buy them new iPad apps) to try anything at least once.
Once I saw how beautiful and colorful these babies were……. I got hungry for something unique. I’m really tired by this point in the year of Caresse or tomato, basil and balsamic salad. And, even though it is absolutely breathtaking and fabulous……. my pallet is also a bit fatigued with the ole standby of brushetta . So……. I decided to go for something a little different but tasty.
Sometimes I crave anchovies! I know I know you probably have the same mental picture I use to have of dead fish on pizza from the 1980′s cartoons that demonized anchovies as the horror or horror foods. However, after trying these tasty flavor packed fillets prepared the “proper” way………. I’m now a HUGE fan. I no longer see them with aversion on my mind. I see loads of flavor and the perfect compliment to fresh heirloom tomatoes and fresh wild garlic!
To begin I gathered the basics. Olive oil, the garlic, tomatoes, fresh basil, chicken stock, salt, pepper and the star of our show………..ANCHOVIES!
To begin my little experiment I wanted to do a little somethin somethin with garlic other than chop it. Not that chopping is boring and redundant and a bit well……..monotonous…… but it is! I’m not being picky I’m just bored. I decided to make garlic chips. There is nothing more crunchy and delicious that salted garlic chips and they are super easy to make. The first step is getting them really really thin………. So I went for my trusty Japanese mandoline!
No I didn’t misspell the musical instrument mandolin…….. I am referring to this amazing tool that makes you look like an Asian rock star in the kitchen! I first discovered this treasure many moons ago in the Asian market. Many of my chef friends use them in the commercial realm and I like to use them at home for super thin slicing! You can purchase one at the Asian market for about $20.00. They sell online for much much more but you can get creative and find them for less. Make sure you use the guard on any mandoline………I have shaved my finger right along with the veggies before……..OUCH!
Shave the cloves into thin slices and set aside.
If you don’t have large cloves of garlic or wild garlic…… look for elephant cloves. Most major grocers have them and they are much easier to shave into chips.
Next pour some olive oil into a pan. About 4-6 tablespoons or 1/4 cup is plenty.
Heat the oil to a medium-high temperature and add garlic chips.
Just like potato chips but for garlic lovers!
So pretty…… Set the oil aside for later use. You can bottle or keep it in a pourable container to cook with later. It’s infused with all type of glory and flavor so don’t throw it away!
Beauty on a plate! Now these little guys burn really easy so have your plate standing by for quick removal. Burt garlic is no bueno.
Next……. the beautiful heirloom tomatoes……. you don’t have to use heirloom but try to find the very ripest and sweetest tomatoes you can get your hands on.
I love food! This one reminds me of my grandpa’s garden when I was little. Wholesome gorgeous green and red hues give this variety an appetizing presence on the plate.
Simply slice these puppies up and set them on a plate for the assembly.
Next cut the fresh basil into ribbons or chop roughly.
Now we start the sauce. Okay……. just for kicks and giggles I’m going to now chop the left over garlic. Yes I realize I have contradicted myself but it’s what I’m doing now so either stick with me or go back to the top and start over.
It’s really difficult for me to start a sauce to go with tomatoes without chopped garlic. Also I DO NOT repeat do not have three hands. That is my son’s hand helping me salt the garlic before I add it to the pan. If I had three hands we would not be having this discussion……….. you would probably already know me because I would be really famous and super rich and maybe even an alien or something. Anyway………
Yum Yum… add a little more olive oil to the pan and the chopped garlic. Saute until light golden brown and get your dead fish ready.
Add the anchovie fillets to the pan and use a fork to break up the pieces.
It’s a true physiological phenomenon that happens…………. once the anchovies and garlic come together in the hot olive oil……… “Bam” the anchovies morph into this magical aromatic conglomeration of flavor and wonder!
Deglaze with chicken stock or white wine if you are a big boy or girl and let the sauce reduce slightly. Season with salt and pepper and you are ready to assemble.
I like to layer the tomatoes on bottom like a restaurant dish and them add the components to the salad. Don’t forget the garlic chips on top :)
Beauty on a plate!
Now for the real challenge……. what do you do with the left over scraps from the pretty plate?
Well…….. I decided to blend them up and serve them right along with the anchovies plate.
Here we go!
I literally took all the scrap pieces from the basil, garlic and tomatoes and threw them into the blender. I added a little balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for fun and hit frappe!
Then I poured it into little shot glasses and served it up with the salad.
Now for the real test……….. my food critics……….THE POETITOES!
When we play test kitchen I let them wear my old chef hats for fun! It helps them play the part and they look pretty darn cute too! I also like to set the table in their classroom. It helps get them in the food mood. It’s all about marketing right?
Now it’s time to try my dead fish salad…….. I mean my lovely heirloom tomato and garlic chip salad.
My son like the garlic chips and enjoyed the salad.
When he saw the little green drink he didn’t really want to try it but then a little later he took a sip and downed the whole thing!!!!
My daughter was hesitant to sample the dish. Tomatoes are not her favorite but I convinced her that she was missing out so she gave it a whirl. She obviously trusts me with her pallet.
“You want me to eat what?”
Poetitoe #1 gave the dish a 5 out of 5! He like the flavors and wanted more. He is seven and also likes to sleep with amphibians.
#2 She Poetitoe gave it a 3 out of 5. She said she would try it again but it wasn’t her favorite. Her brother stole her little green drink and drank it as well. She didn’t mind.
Here is the recipe if you are feeling adventurous yourself! Enjoy!
Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Chip Salad
2 to 3 Large Heirloom or Vine-Ripened Tomatoes
5 Large Bulbs of Garlic
2-3 Anchovie Fillets
1/4 Plus 2-3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1/2 Cup of Chicken Stock or White Wine
2 Large Sprigs or 5-7 Leaves of Fresh Basil
1.) In a small skillet heat 1/4 cup of olive oil to medium-high heat.
2.) Slice 3 of the garlic cloves very thin using an Japanese mandoline. Mince or finely chop the other 2 cloves and set aside.
3.) Saute or fry the garlic chips/slices in the olive oil until golden brown. Season with salt after removing from oil. Drain oil into a container for future use. Save the pan for the sauce. Don’t worry about cleaning it :)
4. ) Slice the tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and set aside.
5.) Slice about 3-5 fresh basil leaves into ribbons or roughly chop.
6.) In the same pan a saute the chopped garlic with the 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil.
7.) Add the anchovie fillets and use a fork to break them up in the pan.
8.) Add the 1/2 cup of chicken Stock or white wine and reduce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9.) Assemble the salad by laying the tomatoes onto a plate overlapping each other to build height. Drizzle over the garlic and anchovie sauce. Sprinkle the fresh basil and garlic chips on top and serve.
*This pairs really great with some grilled or sauteed chicken breasts and a green salad for lunch or dinner.