Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

August 29, 2010

Trilogy of Summer Staples: Basil Pistou, Brunoise, Tomato Concassée

I came home from the Farmer’s Market with an armful of pungent basil, luscious tomatoes, tender zucchini, and fiery red pepper. Since this was a lazy weekend with half of the city seemingly out of town, I decided to do myself a favor and prep some staples. First I made basil pistou. The one I make contains walnuts, Parmesan, and garlic confit. It is moss green, fairly thick, and packs a mighty wallop. I like to spread it on bread, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, and usually finish half of it before I have a chance to use in chicken roulade with pesto, not to mention pasta.

Recipe Basil Pistou*

1 ½ cups basil leaves, tightly packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup shelled walnuts
2 tablespoons garlic confit (or about 4 cloves)
3 tablespoons water, more if needed

Wash the basil leaves and pat dry. In a blender, purée the olive oil, Parmesan, walnuts, and garlic. Add the basil and finish puréeing. If the mixture is too thick, add water. Adjust the seasoning.

Next, I prepped brunoise. This was a regular staple at "La Colombe d’Or." The kitchen always had two batches of brunoise on hand: a blanched and a marinated version. Blanched brunoise quickly sautéed, flavors soups, pasta or sauces; marinated brunoise, dressed with capers, anchovies, garlic, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, garnishes anything from house smoked salmon to hard boiled eggs.

Prep Brunoise*

Any of the 3 following:

1 large carrot
1 yellow squash or yellow pepper
1 zucchini or cucumber
1 red pepper
1 Spanish onion
2 celery ribs

Peel and dice 3 of the above vegetables. Blanch them briefly in boiling water. Strain and store in a covered container. Because it’s so useful to have on hand, I put a small portion of blanched brunoise in plastic bags and keep them in the freezer.

Tomato Concassée*

Tomatoes are my favorite vegetables. I could eat them on all and every occasion. Since I had bought too much of them at the market, I decided to make tomato concassée, a kind of tomato marmelade that spruces up dishes from scallops and chicken to meat loaf.

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Bouquet garni” 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 springs Italian parsley, 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed, tied in cheesecloth.
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar

Prep Concassée

Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and dice into small pieces. Pour off any excess liquid. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallots and sweat them slowly till they give off their moisture, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the bouquet garni. Adjust the seasoning. Let the concassée cool.
Store in a tightly covered glass jar and refrigerated till ready to use.


Marie Simmons said...

While red bell peppers are bountiful I buy plenty, roast and peel them and freeze half for later and store the rest in olive oil with a sprig of fresh thyme and a bruised garlic clove. I use them in sandwiches, layered with mozzarella and garnished with black olives, and to make a delicious Romesco sauce.

Our Daily Dinner said...


Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of storing the red bell peppers in olive oil, with thyme and bruised garlic clove. I never heard the expression "bruised garlic clove." Can you explain?
Summer prepping and cooking is such fun!.

Marie Simmons said...

I agree. Happiness is summer cooking. The produce is so inspiring. To bruise a garlic clove is to press down on it moderately firmly with the flat side of a chef's knife just until "bruised" allowing some of the juices to leach out. The advantage is that you get some of the garlic flavor without bitting into tiny bits of chopped garlic.

Our Daily Dinner said...


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