Heirloom tomatoes on sourdough with stracciatella and lemon verbena

Heirloom tomatoes on sourdough with stracciatella and lemon verbena

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Serves
6
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

Lemon verbena is a fragrant herb native to South America. It’s used widely in both savoury and sweet dishes, and makes a delicious infusion to drink as a tea. It’s not all that common at the greengrocer, but you should be able to pick up a small plant at any good nursery. The verbena plant is hardy and easy to grow, and makes a great addition to your herb selection. If you can’t find verbena leaves for this recipe, you could substitute another fragrant soft herb, such as basil or lemon thyme.

This dish is another of those classic combinations – bread, tomatoes and fresh cheese, lifted by the addition of some aromatic verbena oil.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 6–8 wedges each
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
small handful fresh verbena leaves, roughly torn
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
a few sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
6 thick slices sourdough
450g stracciatella

For the verbena oil

Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
60ml vegetable oil
8g fresh verbena leaves, roughly torn
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
a few sprigs of lemon thyme, leaves picked
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
6 thick slices sourdough
450g stracciatella

Method

  1. To make the verbena oil, warm all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat to around 65°C (150°F). Turn off the heat and pour the oil into an airtight container – a small jar is ideal. Refrigerate overnight to infuse, then strain the oil through a fine sieve. Discard the zest and verbena leaves and return the oil to the jar until you are ready to use it.
  2. The next day, put the tomatoes in a mixing bowl along with the herbs, nigella seeds, vinegar and 4 tablespoons of the verbena oil. Gently toss everything together with your hands, ensuring the tomatoes and herbs are well-coated with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside for a few minutes to allow the flavours to come together.
  3. When you’re ready to eat, toast the sourdough slices and place them on plates to serve. Spread each slice generously with stracciatella and top with the tomato mixture. The juices from the bottom of the bowl make a delicious dressing, so be sure to spoon this over the top to finish.

BAKERY NOTES

  • You will need to start this recipe the day before to infuse the verbena oil. You’ll end up with more oil than you need – store it in a sealed jar in the fridge and it will retain the vibrant verbena flavour for up to two weeks. Use it up on salads, or even drizzled over steamed vegies to serve with roasted chicken.

    We use a combination of black Russian, oxheart and whatever other tomatoes are in season. You may need to adjust quantities depending on how large your tomatoes are.

    Stracciatella is a fresh stretched-curd Italian cheese. You could substitute with mozzarella or burrata, both of which would provide a firmer texture.
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