I have made these more times than I can count. They are incredibly simple, beautiful, tasty, and one of my favourite things to make when really nice, fat tomatoes make an appearance at the market.
I used to hate raw tomatoes. I picked them out of salads and off of burgers and sandwiches, preferring my tomato intake to come from ketchup and (non-chunky) tomato sauce on spaghetti. I’ve since discovered that I absolutely love tomatoes, but I am a bit of a tomato snob. I still do not enjoy the pale, pink, sad-looking tomatoes that are found in the grocery stores during the winter. Tomatoes that are bright red (or yellow, orange, or tiger striped like the heirloom varieties I can sometimes find) and fresh are always welcome in my house.
This recipe is adapted slightly from Giada’s Kitchen. I own all of Giada De Laurentiis’ cookbooks, and love every one of them. Back when I was in college in New York – during my “picky eater” days and before I cooked for myself – I used to go over to my friend’s apartment in Washington Heights (she had cable, I did not) and we’d watch the Food Network, usually 30 Minute Meals and Everyday Italian, while eating pizza or Chinese takeout. It was the first time I had found food really interesting, and it inspired me to learn to cook more for myself. That Christmas, my parents bought me Giada’s first cookbook, Everyday Italian, and I was hooked.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and now cooking is a huge part of my life. I still have a whole lot to learn, but I love experimenting and trying out new recipes. Good thing, because I now own a staggering number of cookbooks and can’t seem to stop buying new ones.
Back to the matter at hand. There isn’t much to say about this dish except that it’s fabulous and you must try it. Please do try to use fresh herbs and find the best tomatoes you can because since this dish is so simple, it needs top-notch ingredients in order to realize its full potential.
I make the herb oil in a mini food processor, but have also made it by hand using a mortar and pestle. The mint and the basil are fresh and bright, paired with a nice, fruity extra virgin olive oil. Scoop up leftover oil with a nice fat piece of fresh bread. Whipped with a hand mixer, the goat cheese becomes light and fluffy and its tangy flavour is complemented perfectly by the earthy toasted walnuts.
This makes a wonderful starter if you’re having company for dinner, with the added bonus of looking very impressive despite being incredibly easy to make. It also works as a nice side dish beside whatever you’re barbecuing, as well as making a fantastic lunch on its own or with a piece of bread. The possibilities are endless!
- 3 large, ripe tomatoes
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped & toasted
- ½ cup fresh mint
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- 8 oz (225 g) goat cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup cream (I used heavy/whipping, but have used half & half and it worked as well)
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- Combine mint, basil and olive oil in a small food processor and blend until mostly smooth (or alternately, grind together in a mortar and pestle). Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Combine goat cheese, cream, and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer (or a wire whisk), whip until ingredients are well-blended and the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Slice tomatoes into ¾-inch slices. Place 1 slice on each of 4 plates. Top with a heaping tablespoon of the goat cheese filling. Top with another slice of tomato and another scoop of goat cheese. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of walnuts over each stack, then drizzle with herb oil. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen