Team Tomato – Insalata Erbette e Tre Pomodori

I was cheering on behalf of Cucina Fintastica for Gli Azzurri yesterday to no avail. Stupid football. Stupid Uruguay team (apart from the tight compression shirts that is).

Fortunately I am also an avid supporter of another team that never fails: Team Tomato. This salad includes three types of them and with the help of avocado, feta cheese and toasted bread it doesn’t need any unjust red cards, corner kicks or skimpy outfits to become a sure winner! And who knows – maybe if somebody had offered this salad to that chap Luis Suarez before yesterday’s match, he wouldn’t have needed to sink his teeth into his fellow player…

Salad of Three Tomatoes and Herbs

Serves 4

(Wild) herbs

100 g tomatoes

100 g cherry tomatoes

100 g sun-dried tomatoes

1 avocado (+ some lemon juice)

100 g feta cheese in cubes

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

some slices of white bread

Chop the herbs and slice the tomatoes and the avocado (squeeze some lemon juice onto the avocado slices). Mix all ingredients together and season with oil and vinegar (+ salt & pepper) to your taste. Toast the bread. I used the bread as “croutons” but you can also serve it on side with some oil and vinegar.

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Shapeless Soufflé – Sformato di Funghi Misti

This time I had to resort to my favourite on-line dictionary to understand what this dish is in fact supposed to be. The results were “shapeless” and “a type of soufflé”. Right. Well, although the name “shapeless soufflé” is not exactly the most appetizing of the Italian kitchen, it is yet certainly worth a try! The good news is that unlike a shapely (French) soufflé, it is not supposed to be very airy. Therefore, there is no need for those nerve-wracking moments of watching your soufflé rise whilst holding your breath and hoping your upstairs neighbour won’t be strolling around in his flat.

My first ever sformato experience was given by this recipe. I think my Finnish herbs were slightly milder than the Italian ones (especially the marjoram) so next time I will probably double or triple their quantity. Whilst finding this dish quite tasty, I am still slightly baffled about its purpose. Apparently its uses are so versatile that the only proper classification for a sformato is “food”. For me, it anyway served as a light dinner.

Mushroom Sformato

Serves 6

700 g potatoes

600 g mushrooms (of any type)

50 g parmesan cheese, grated

200 g Provolone cheese, diced

1 sprig of marjoram, chopped

1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

1 garlic clove

2 eggs

salt to your taste

olive oil

Clean the potatoes and cook them in boiling water until tender (about 20 minutes). Let the cooked potatoes cool down. After that peel and mash them.

Clean the mushrooms and chop them into not-too-small slices. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic clove and mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes unti browned.

Slice the Provolone cheese into small cubes. Add the cheese cubes, parmesan, herbs, eggs and mushrooms to the mashed potatoes. Stir well and add salt to your taste.

Take a rectangular narrow baking pan (used for e.g. making bread loaves). Alternatively you can use ramekins to create individual portions. Line the pan with a parchment paper, a pour the mixture into it. Bake in the oven at 180 Centigrades for 45 minutes until the sformato has turned a golden colour.

Summer in the City – Pomodori al Tonno

Continuing my list of things that I appreciate about the Italian kitchen, I have to mention their understanding of the seasonality of different ingredients. Obviously me being a Finn, it doesn’t yet mean that I always follow this thinking.

I had some leftover mayonnaise in my fridge and decided to try this recipe that according to its source is “ideal for the summer season”.  Ok, so the Finnish greenhouse tomatoes at this time of the year may bear little other resemblance to their summer (or Italian) versions than the colour red but the tasty stuffing of this recipe reasonably well makes up for what the winter tomatoes may lack in flavour. However, I think I will definitely prepare this dish also during the season officially approved by Italians, and might even take them (the tomatoes, not the Italians) with me to a summer picnic!

The tomatoes are quite filling so we had some to spare for the following day, and it seemed that they got even tastier over night. As mayonnaise can be a bit heavy, I am also thinking of substituting some of it with yoghurt to make it slightly lighter and fresher the next time.

Originally I was planning to use the recipe from the book “Oggi cucino io 4” but I ended up also partially utilizing this.

Tuna-stuffed Tomatoes

Serves 6

8 round, ripe tomatoes

350 g tuna in oil, crumbled with a fork

200 g mayonnaise

4 hard boiled eggs

6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

2 tablepoons capers in vinegar, drained, one half finely chopped, the other half without chopping

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

16 basil leaves, in small pieces

salt, pepper

Cut away the top of each tomato, and scrape out the seeds of the tomatoes with a spoon. Turn the tomatoes upside down and leave them to drain on a plate. In the meantime, peel the eggs and cut them into small pieces. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the tuna. Add the capers, the anchovies, the eggs and the herbs, and mix well until you have a smooth(ish) paste. Season with salt and pepper. Fill the tomatoes with the paste and put them in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.