Mario Batali’s Kitchen Gardens: Tomato, Tomahto
It’s not often I get the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden to myself, but last week, before the school groups arrived, I snuck a peek at what was happening in Mario Batali’s Kitchen Gardens ahead of the coming Edible Garden Festival. The sun was high and bright, yet the sight of ripening vegetables, familiar varieties tucked in among the somewhat more exotic heirlooms, made it easy to deal with the summer heat.
I picked my way around the garden plots, noting leafy greens and sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, flowering artichokes, and a few ready globes of garlic. And dangling in friendly groups above them all: new tomatoes, plump and prolific in the sunshine. Some are already settling into that quirky adolescent phase, not yet ripe, blushing with spots of bright reds and oranges on one side while still a shy green on the other. Certain varieties are lumpy and rustic-looking, others smooth and plum-shaped, and all of them have been hand-selected by Mario Batali’s top chefs–some of the finest culinary minds in New York.
On Sunday, September 23, Mario Batali joins The New York Botanical Garden to host a celebration of food, friends, and fun, with cooking demonstrations, tastings, and an exclusive evening dinner bringing the best of Italy to the Bronx. It’s a sure opportunity to taste the sweeping palette of flavors the garden-grown tomato has to offer! Among the varieties planted here by Mario’s chefs, you’ll see names like Rosso Sicilian, Reisetomate, Black Brandywine, and A Grappoli d’Inverno. And while much of the crop will enjoy another few weeks of ripening before the big event, you can put these summer fruits on their proper pedestal at home with this piquant and flavorful recipe from Mario’s latest cookbook, Molto Batali.
Daikon and Tomato “Carpaccio”
Recipe courtesy of Molto Batali (Ecco 2011)
Ingredients (serves 8 to 10 as a side dish)
1 large daikon radish
2 firm ripe Roma tomatoes
2 firm ripe golden or Green Zebra tomatoes
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons spicy whole grain mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons small salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
One 6-ounce chunk of Parmiggiano Reggiano, for shaving
2 ounces baby arugula, trimmed
Freshly-cracked black pepper
- Peel the daikon and using a mandoline, very thinly slice it. Arrange the slices in a nice pattern all over a large platter. Slice all the tomatoes as thinly as possible and arrange them in concentric circles on top of the daikon slices.
- In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice with the mustard and beat lightly with a fork. Stirring rapidly, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify. Stir in the capers, and set aside.
- When ready to serve, drizzle the lemon-mustard dressing all over the platter. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the parmiggiano over the top. Strew the arugula leaves over the platter in a haphazard way. Sprinkle black pepper over the whole shebang and serve at room temperature (never chilled).
While tickets are now sold out for the final Family Dinner event with Mario Batali’s chefs, you still have a chance to enjoy some of the best food in New York. Tickets for the Edible Garden Festival with Mario Batali will go on sale as of Tuesday, August 7, allowing you to join us on Sunday, September 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Available seats for the cooking demonstration and exclusive dinner event will disappear quickly, so be sure to register early! Don’t miss this rare opportunity to join Mario at the table as he shares anecdotes, memories, and inspirations over a three-course feast prepared by the master himself.
Enter to Win Great Prizes from NYBG!
To celebrate all the Edible Garden fun going on in the Family Garden, The New York Botanical Garden is giving away eight prize packages featuring a combination of Mario Batali Series Vic Firth Peppermills, pairs of Mario’s beloved Crocs, tickets to the Garden’s Edible Garden festival on September 23, and high quality cookware from the “Mario Batali by Dansk™ Light Cookware” line. These prize packages will vary and are valued at up to $310!
This week we’re giving away four tickets to the Edible Garden festival on September 23 ($100 value) and a pair of Crocs (an approximate $35.00 value)! View the full sweepstakes rules, and click here to enter. Each weekly contest will begin at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Monday and run through 11:59 p.m. EDT that Sunday. This week, entries will be accepted beginning at 12:00 p.m. EDT, Monday, August 6, 2012 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 12, 2012.