We've been back from the beach for over two weeks, but - cue the Kylie - I cannot get this tomato jam out of my head. I dreamed it up toward the end of vacation and cooked it one of our first days back in New York. And now that it's gone, all I want to do is make more and more and more and more of it and eat it every day.
My mom and I shopped for the beach house in the suburbs. If everything is faster in New York City, everything is so much freaking BIGGER in the suburbs! (And cheaper. Oh, bless you Burbs. So. Much. Cheaper.) I purchased a 2-pound box of sweet grape tomatoes knowing that it is one of four vegetable options the girls would eat (the other three being "corn", "carrots", and "nothing"). Lo and behold, "nothing" ended up being a very popular choice and I returned home with almost the entire box untouched.
- just shy of (they did eat SOME) 2 lb grape tomatoes
- 6 medium - large shallots (3/4 lb weighed at the store), chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon harissa (optional)
I started off melting the butter over low heat and cooking the shallots for about 6 - 8 minutes until they started to soften. I also added an extremely kind and generous dose of salt - likely came out to a teaspoon, maybe a bit more. If anything I've learned from my new-ish foray into baking it's that salt helps sweet flavors shine.
Then I added the tomatoes.
I stirred to incorporate them with the shallots and cooked for about 3 minutes. Then, I added in the lemon juice and sugar. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
It was at this point that I decided I wanted a wee bit of heat. I went with harissa because it's made of red peppers which bring their own natural sweetness to the mix. I hoped I didn't ruin the whole dish with spiciness and forged onward.
Once the mixture reached a boil, I reduced the heat to low and simmered it uncovered for about an hour. I stirred it occasionally and slowly but surely, some of the tomatoes began to burst. My heart leapt a little bit each time I'd hear a cherry tomato explode - granted, it was more of a 'pop', but it still foretold deliciousness that was brewing.
To be fair, an hour is a long time so I must tell you this - I was doing some other kitchen tasks simultaneously or I would have been extremely bored. Not even creamy, blessed risotto takes an hour of constant watching and stirring.
Boredom, or at least impatience, did actually kick shortly after the hour mark, so I started popping the remaining whole tomatoes with the back of my stirrer. Once every single tomato had been squished, I gave it all one last final stir and turned off the heat.
I wanted to eat it directly off the stove. The natural sweetness of the tomatoes and the shallots was enhanced with the sugar, but wasn't cloying. Cooking it slow and low resulted in really rich, deep flavors. The harissa added another layer of sweetness from the red pepper and the smallest hint of heat at the back of your mouth. It was savory and sweet, not spicy, but that little zing was really delicious. I forced myself to not eat all of it with a spoon and rather let it cool on the stove before transferring to the fridge overnight.
The next day, I slathered it all over a beautiful piece of salmon.
As pictured, I lined the dish with parchment paper first. It somehow feels and looks fancier than tin foil. And it worked.
This is a thing of pure and absolute beauty. There was still plenty of the jam left having completely smothered the fish in it, so I begrudgingly put it back into the fridge instead of devouring it with a spoon and put the salmon in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes at 350°.
On to the sides! I'd purchased 3 ears of corn and 2 small zucchinis at the farmers market for sides. Once shucked, I discovered that I got a bonus ear for free.
The corn I simply grilled up on our grill pan. We each ate one and saved the third for another use later in the week.
The zucchinis became a salad I've wanted to try from The Newlywed Cookbook. I worship at the altar of ricotta cheese so this was right up my alley.
The ingredients are:
1 large or 2 small zucchini(s)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken in pieces (I omitted these)
Peel zucchini lengthwise with a vegetable peeler into thin strips. Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. I personally went heavy on the fresh pepper because I live for it. Administer a healthy dose of ricotta (and nuts, if you use them) to the top. I tossed the zucchini and ricotta together just before serving.
Then it was time for dinner.
I'm not the biggest fan of summer - humidity and my hair haven't been on speaking terms for years - but this dish made me wish I had fresh summer produce 12 months of the year. Grilled corn is exquisite - if you haven't done it, please do it. If you haven't tried eating zucchini raw before (and I hadn't!), please do it. It's light, it's crunchy, and paired perfectly with the zing of lemon juice and the fluffy ricotta.
And let's take a look at this stunning zucchini side, shall we?
Beautiful and delicious. I wish that I'd made this salad in May so that I could continue making it all summer - it is glorious.
They were fantastic sides, yes, but I have to gush about this fish. THIS FISH YOU GUYS HOLY DELICIOUSNESS.
The slow-simmered, caramelized shallots and tomatoes on top of a flaky and hearty piece of salmon? I truly have dreamed of this dish since making it. It is my new gold standard in Summer Fish Toppers. In fact, this whole plate was just chock full of summer sweetness. And I'm telling you - make this jam. Tomatoes are a summer thing, but I know this would be a perfect condiment all year round, at all three meals.
I used it the next day at breakfast, in fact! I smeared some ricotta cheese onto whole grain toast and topped it with some of the tomato jam. Absolute perfection. I used more of it for another recipe which is on it's way this week!