NOPI TOMATOES with WASABI MASCARPONE & PINE NUTS

British chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, have started a global vegetable revolution. In their London restaurants, piles of vegetarian plates line long buffet-like counters. The result is gastronomic artwork: a canvas filled with platters of carefully arranged and prepared dishes of eggplant, broccoli, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, kale, jicama, Swiss chard, potatoes, asparagus, beets, and tomatoes make a gallery of splendid edibles. Surprises abound. Unusual combinations of ingredients are the chefs' signatures. This summery tomato recipe showcases one such splendid pairing--Japanese wasabi and Italian creamy, soft mascarpone. The recipe only works when tomatoes are in season and at their peak of juiciness with just the right combination of sweetness and acidity. Choose as many varieties as possible and serve on an interesting plate for the greatest visual impact. 

Nota bene: A variety of colorful heirloom tomatoes is best. Micro green and purple basil look amazing, but regular sweet basil or even Thai basil may be substituted. Additional wasabi may be added for a spicier finish--just be careful not to over power the delicate tomato taste. Save packets of wasabi that come with sushi takeout and use in this recipe.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 9 ounces/250 grams mascarpone

  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste

  • 1/3 ounce/10 grams chives, finely chopped

  • 1/3 ounce/10 grams tarragon, finely chopped

  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced widthwise

  • 2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez sherry vinegar or another good quality sweet sherry vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2  1/4 pound/1 kilogram mixed tomatoes, cut into a mixture of slices and wedges

  • 3/4 ounce/20 grams pine nutes, toasted

  • 1/5 ounce/5 grams mixed basil leaves (plain, purple, and micro basil, or just plain basil)

  • Coarse sea salt & black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the mascarpone, wasabi, chives, tarragon, and green onion in a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and keep in fridge until ready to use.

2. Place the shallots in a separate bowl with the sherry vinegar, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

3. To serve, divide the mascarpone among six plates and spread it out to form a thin layer. Place the tomatoes on top, followed by the pickled shallots. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, then scatter over the basil leaves, tearing the larger ones as you go. Season with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper and serve.

SERVES 6

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