4th of July Recipes–An Appetizer and a Side!

Heirloom Tomato and Melon Bruscetta

Okay, I know this is the very last-minute for a 4th of July post.  I am a very bad blogger.  I chose to go canoeing with my husband and dog instead of blogging, and I’m not sorry.  It’s early yet though and these recipes come together pretty quickly.  Because we are running on a tight schedule, I’ll not blather on with some witty story about the food.  Let’s cut to the chase and get to the recipes!

The first recipe is an intriguing version of bruscetta that I stumbled upon in the Tartine Bread cookbook.  I’m off for the summer and have been trying to get my bread baking just right while I have the time.  The cookbook from Tartine is a well-thought-out yet daunting aid in bread endeavors.  It is a recipe for melon and heirloom tomato bruscetta.  My mom and aunt always sprinkle salt and pepper on melon, which I always thought was odd when I was little but it opened me up to the possibility of  melon in savory dishes.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
Squeezing Seeds from Tomato
Garlic Rub

Heirloom Tomato and Melon Bruscetta

Adapted from the Tartine Bread cookbook.  Serves 6.

You can play around with quantities here and with different kinds of tomatoes or melons as well.  I have a friend who cringes at cantaloupe but loves honeydew so if I were making it for her, I would definitely use the latter.  You can use more tomatoes and less melon or vice versa as well. You can also use either all basil or all mint if you would like.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette:

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon of honey

1 small handful of mint, chopped

1 small handful of basil, chopped

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


1 jalapeno, minced

3 heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch chunks

1/2 ripe melon (I used cantaloupe) diced into 1/2 inch chunks

6 slices of country bread (such as ciabatta) or 12 slices of baguette

1-2 Tablespoons olive oil for brushing the bread

1 clove of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

To make the vinaigrette, stir all ingredients except for olive oil together.  Whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil in until the dressing is emulsified.  If it doesn’t do this, don’t freak out, it’s cool–you’re going to dump it all on top of the tomato/melon mixture anyway so just be sure you give it a good stir before you do so.

Brush the bread with olive oil and grill or toast both sides.  Cut the clove of garlic in half and rub the cut end of the clove back and forth over the bread, anointing it with garlicky goodness.

Toss together the jalapeno, tomatoes and melon.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add about half of the vinaigrette and stir to distribute evenly.  Just before serving, top the grilled bread with the tomato/melon mixture.  Drizzle with extra vinaigrette.  If you are making this in advance, keep the bread and the topping separate until right before you are going to eat.

Field Pea Salad

The second recipe is for a delicious side from Chris Hastings’ Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook.  We served it at our wedding just over a year ago and people are still talking about it.  It’s a brilliant recipe that I’ve adapted for what I have on hand.

Pink Eye Peas
Seasonings for the Field Peas
My New Favorite Ingredient!

Field Pea Salad

Adapted from Chris Hastings’ Hot and Hot Fish Club cookbook.  Makes 5 cups, which is plenty for a potluck or for 10-12 people.

I’ve taken some definite liberties with this recipe even though it is perfect as written.  The recipe calls for Aioli in the dressing which I am all about but since I’m serving it to people in the pregnant/elderly/small child category I chose to substitute mayonnaise mixed with a minced clove of garlic.  Chef Hastings also calls for Tarragon and Tarragon Vinegar in the dressing.  I didn’t have Tarragon and was not inclined to go to the store so I substituted basil and lemon because they were well within reach.  Use what you have.  Mint would even work in this recipe.  So would regular wine vinegar instead of lemon juice.  I used Pink-Eyed peas because that’s what looked good at the farmers market.  Lady Peas are my absolute favorite and any field pea such as Black-Eyed Peas, Crowder Peas, Pink-Eyed Peas, or Lady Peas will do.  There is another notable substitution that I must detail.  I inserted my new favorite ingredient, Mexican Crema into the recipe instead of Creme Friache.  It is cheaper and easier to find.  I believe they carry it at Wal-Mart even, but I made the trip to our awesome local Hispanic Market to get it.  It is rich and mildly sour and can be used in place of heavy cream in soups (just don’t boil it or it will separate) and anywhere you use sour cream.  Slather it all over your grilled corn, I dare you!


1/3 cup of mayonnaise

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/3 cup of Mexican Crema or Creme Fraiche (or sour cream in a pinch)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 Tablespoon of chopped basil (or tarragon, or mint)

1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley

1 Tablespoon of chives

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper (I used white pepper)

For the Cooked Field Peas:

2 cups of field peas, rinsed and picked through for any shells

2 sprigs of thyme

1/2 onion or 3 shallots, diced

1 clove of garlic, smashed and peeled

something smokey (2 pieces of bacon, diced, some smoked ham, a ham hock, a smoked turkey leg, a few splashes of liquid smoke and a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a smoked chicken wing, etc.  You get the idea)

4 cups of water

For the Salad:

2 cups of cooked field peas

1 cup of finely diced zucchini

1 cup of finely diced yellow squash

1 cup of cooked corn, shaved off the cob (about 2 large ears)

1 cup of chopped green onion (about 5-6)

To cook the Field Peas:

If you are using bacon, cook bacon in a large saucepan or dutch oven until light brown, then add the onion, bay leaf, thyme and garlic and saute on medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  If you are using any of the other smokey things, just put whatever you are using in with the onion and herbs and cook for the 5 minutes.  Add the field peas and water.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer (about medium low/low) and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Drain, remove garlic, smoky thing (unless you used chopped bacon), thyme sprigs, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper

For the dressing:

Mix all dressing ingredients together.  Refrigerate until salad is ready to assemble.

For the Salad:

Combine field peas, zucchini, squash, corn and green onions in a large bowl, Toss with dressing and season with salt and pepper.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Brian says:

    I used the bruscetta topping on some leftover fajita steak, and with some soft corn tortillas made for a interesting and flavorful taco.

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