The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Herb, Tomato and Pluot Concassé 
with Black Garlic

Concassé if you are not already familiar does not refer to a specific dish
 or recipe. Concassé  pronounced (kon-kah-SAY) is actually a French
culinary term meaning to roughly chop an ingredient.

Although the term Concassé can apply to most any ingredient, it is
normally associated with tomatoes. We are going to utilize this technique
with both tomatoes and pluots here. Last summer I prepared a marinara
 using these two ingredients and it quickly became a favorite. The pluots
add just the right touch of tangy and sweet adding a bit of playfulness
to our fresh garden tomatoes.

Before we get on to our dish I would like to mention one of our stars here. 
Black Garlic which probably should have earned the title “Black Gold”, 
is one of the most delightful culinary treats I have encountered thus far. It is a 
fermented garlic that has a rich sweet flavor that brings up thoughts of molasses, 
yet not overly sweet. It is similar to roasted garlic in many ways, such as being
 spreadable and adding that well loved garlic feel without the bite of fresh garlic.
 However unlike roasted garlic it is quite sticky so I recommend when chopping,
 lightly brushing your knife with a grape seed oil or other light oil.

The term  Concassé neither requires nor implies anything further than roughly 
chopping. However, you will typically find a few more steps involved in the
 preparation. The purpose of this extended process is to not only enhance the
 color, texture and flavor  of our tomatoes and pluots, but to also remove the seeds 
and skins. This allowing for a far more palatable experience and adding a bit 
more Wow factor as well  :) 

These steps will generally consist of four primary steps along with
 coring and seeding where applicable.
1. Scoring
2. Blanching
3. Peeling
4. Chopping

Today we will be folding our concassé into a light oil, fresh herb and black 
garlic sauce. This can be served alone with warm crusty bread, as a topping for a
 lovely crostini appetizer or just about anything you wish. We will be serving it 
today however with some fresh basil linguine drizzled with a bit of olive oil and fresh
 lemon juice. This dish serves well as either and entrée for a multi-course meal, or 
as a slightly elegant accompaniment side to any main dish.

What you will need:
For the concassé:
4 large ripe tomatoes
3 ripe pluots
Large stock pot
Ice bath
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
3-4 cloves black garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons cream sherry
a pinch ground white pepper
4 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
2-3 fresh mint leaves, chopped
Small bunch fresh chives, chopped
Sauté pan
For the pasta:
6 ounces fresh linguine, or pasta of choice
1/2 fresh lemon, quartered
Olive oil for drizzle, salt and pepper to taste

Let's get cooking:
Begin by removing any stems from your tomatoes and pluots. Place tomatoes
 and pluots bottom side up on a cutting board. Score the bottom of each with a
sharp pairing knife to just below the skins in an X pattern.

Bring a large stock pot of water to a rapid boil. In the meantime you can set up
 your ice bath by placing a large bowl filled with ice water within easy reach
 of your cooking station. If you are using various sizes, ripeness or types of fruits,
 it is best to blanch them separably. For example we have our tomatoes here all of a
 similar ripeness and size, so we will start with these. Gently place your tomatoes in
the boiling water from 10-30 seconds depending on ripeness. You will begin to see
 your X on the fruits start to deepen or the skin begin to loosen just slightly when
 the are ready.

Next you will want to immediately submerge them into the ice bath then set aside.
 Now repeat this process with your pluots. Note that they should require less time than
 the tomatoes being they have a thinner skin. Now we are ready to remove the skins
 from our fruits by simply grabbing the cut edges and gently sliding the skins off.

For the tomatoes you can now cut them into quarters then remove the core area
 and seeds. For the pluots or any stone fruits simply slice each side up to the pit area,
 then do the same on remaining edge pieces. Now you can simply
roughly chop them and set aside.

In a heated sauté pan on a medium/high heat add oil and shallot, gently cooking
 until just golden. Now add your black garlic, gently moving it around in the pan
 for just a moment or so to get the flavors working. Reduce heat to medium,
adding herbs and sherry, continuing to sauté for about 10 minutes.

Now prepare your pasta. If you are using fresh pasta merely bring a large pot
 of water to a boil. Place pasta into the boiling water and cook on high for
5-6 minutes for al dente.

Now gently fold your tomatoes and pluots into your sauce until just incorporated.
To serve I placed the tomato and pluot concassé into individual mini cast iron skillets and arranged the pasted into their own mini cast iron baking dishes.
Then drizzle the pasta with a bit of olive oil and and squeeze of fresh lemon. Note: I find it best with this dish to allow each person the salt and pepper at their own taste.

Note: If you have never prepared a dish concassé style, the primary thing to
 watch for is the blanching time. We are not trying to cook our ingredients here but
 rather wanting to enhance the raw fruits as well as simplify the peeling process.
On another note, you can prepare your concassé ahead of time or the
 day before and keep chilled.
This recipe was previously featured here on Honest Cooking...

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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