I think the only reason I would ever want there to be eternal summer is the promise of a tomato in my hand. I don’t think I can never get enough. I can have them in salads, on toast, slow-roasted, cooked into sauce, and in soup. I can also, with equal pleasure, bite into a tomato as if it were an apple and savor each ripe bite. And though, I am an autumn girl through and through, that ripe tomato cut into thick wedges, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with fleur de sel, is pretty much my idea of heaven in a meal. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about tomatoes, who might also wish for a summer if not eternal, then certainly extended. But eternal summer is clearly not here to stay, and I guess I’ll make peace with it soon enough. It’s just that I have such a hard time saying goodbye. I’m crap at it, really.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who wants the season (or at least its produce) to last a little longer. The reason I made these tomato sliders in the first place is because Andrew spotted them in New York Times and promptly emailed me the recipe. One of the best things about dating someone who loves food as much as you do, is that they actively make suggestions and that the get it when you bolt from the couch to make impromptu ice cream. It’s not enough to eat something good, you must experience it with others. And food, as you well know, tastes much better when shared.
By now Andrew has heard me wax poetic about Blue Hill and the genius that is Dan Barber. And he sort of instinctively knew that these could not possibly be anything but sublime. Which they were. We could have easily made them into a dinner meal, but I was ambitious that night in the kitchen, and we had them as starters. I think we even fought over the last one – and generously decided to split it.
I hope that you make these tomato sliders while there are still late summer (or early fall, come to think of it!) tomatoes at the market. Try to find the fragrant ones, heavy and fleshy – they will serve you well. The recipe looks like a handful, but really, there is nothing to it. It’s just a few steps, none of which take too long, and all of which can be made in advance. So if you’re hosting a party, these can be put together in no time. And they will, I guarantee you, steal the show. Because who can resist a miniature homemade burger bun with tomatoes, mascarpone, goat cheese inside? Exactly – no one. And if they do – clearly, that just means more left for you!
Adapted from Dan Barber at Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns via New York Times
For the buns:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond flour (1 1/2 oz or 42 grams)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (1 3/4 oz or 50 grams)
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the tomato filling:
2 medium tomatoes (1/2 pound)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
For the goat cheese filling:
1/3 cup soft, mild goat cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
For the assembly:
12-24 small basil leaves (see note).
Make the buns:
With a rack centered in the middle, preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 24 muffin cups with all-natural vegetable cooking spray, or lightly butter them, though I prefer the spray as it’s a lot faster dealing with mini-muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients, and then whisk the egg whites into dry ingredients until combined. While continuing to whisk, slowly, in a thin stream, add the olive oil. Divide among muffin cups, about 1.5 tablespoons per cup.
Bake the buns for roughly 20-25 minutes, or until they turn pale golden and are spring back when you lightly press down with your finger. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, and then remove and cool completely on a rack. [Make ahead: Buns can be baked 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.]
Make the tomato filling:
Cut a shallow X in the bottom of each fresh tomato, and blanch in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately transfer to an ice bath. Once cool, peel and seed tomatoes. Then, cut into 1/4-inch dice – you want even, small dice for your tomato filling. In a medium bowl, stir together diced tomatoes with sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. [Make ahead: Tomato filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.]
Make the goat cheese filling:
Stir together goat cheese, mascarpone, chives and a pinch of salt. [Make ahead: Goat cheese filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.]
Take a bun and slice is into two layers, horizontally, using a serrated knife. Fill the sandwich with 1.5 teaspoons tomato filling, a basil leaf, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the goat cheese mixture.
Note: Basil leaves should be small to properly fit the size of the bun.
Makes 12 to 24 amuse-bouches (see note).