IF ONLY REMBRANDT had a Kumato, he might have painted this darkly luscious tomato on a recycled canvas, rolled it up like a scroll and tried to sell it to one of his patrons. They are grown in The Netherlands and the Mediterranean, so it’s possible he enjoyed them too. Perhaps it is one of his lost masterpieces?
Instead, my friend Mark Woolcott has captured with his camera a still life portrait that I believe epitomizes the essence of art on film. The fiery pulp of this brown tomato glows with a dewy invitation. The dark and moody backdrop with the various shades of black and the striking bolt of light lead me to believe that Rembrandt was behind this. All I did was cut it at just the right spot, allowed the juice to drip out, and posed the two pieces on a square of slate. Mark turned that into art.
Art can be found anywhere and we found it inside this tomato. It is brown, green, or perhaps mossy colored, with a starburst of red at the core. It tastes like a tomato but with a meatier texture and firmer skin. It has a higher level of fructose making it sweeter while also containing a bit of a sour note. According to http://www.kumato.com, it is not genetically modified but a natural variety of tomato that has existed for millennia.
Never refrigerate a tomato. They taste best if stored at room temperature. The Kumato brown tomato is already ripe when you find them in the store and they are ready-to-eat. They actually ripen from the inside out making them resistant to bruising. They are available at Whole Foods and should last up to two weeks.
Enjoy them cut in half with a sprinkling of flakey salt, or try them in this Easy Caprese Bruschetta.
¼ cup raspberry balsamic vinegar
1 19 oz Stirato bread (or other crusty Italian-style baguette), cut in ½” diagonal slices
1 18g package of basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
1 garlic clove, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces fresh ovoline mozzarella, sliced ¼” thick
1 package Kumato brown tomatoes, sliced ¼” thick
flakey sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler. Set the rack at the highest level.
- Simmer the balsamic vinegar over low heat until reduced to a thick, but fluid, syrup.
- Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Brush the oiled side with the cut side of the garlic. Sprinkle with salt. Space the bread slices evenly on a baking tray. Broil only the seasoned side till golden.
- Sprinkle the bread with the fresh basil. Top with alternating layers of Kumato and mozzarella.
- Drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and flakey sea salt.
The key to success for this open-faced caprese is choosing just the right ingredients for their fresh flavor and their size. The stirato is a long baguette-shaped loaf with a firm crust and pleasingly chewy center. Its diameter and firm crust make it the perfect vehicle to support a few slices of the petite Kumato and ovoline (egg shaped) mozzarella. The tomato and mozzarella are just about the same size, which also make them perfect partners for this bread. Choose fresh mozzarella that is soft and packed in water. Avoid the rubbery blocks of mozzarella.
Other important factors are properly seasoning the bread before toasting. Cut the stirato into ½” thick diagonal pieces. Brush on a little olive oil on one side. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side over the oiled side of bread. This gentle touch of garlic is all that is needed. Then sprinkle on the flakey salt and broil till golden.
It will help your guests if you cut the basil into a fine chiffonade. Using a whole leaf would be fast, but ladies who like to take several bites find it difficult to tear into. No one likes biting into something they can’t tear apart.
Sprinkle on a fine layer of fresh basil onto the toasted bread. Top the basil with alternating layers of sliced Kumato and mozzarella. Finish with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction, freshly ground pepper, and a little more flakey salt. Eat while still warm!