In the introduction to Seven Fires, Francis Mallmann talks about the taste of burnt. He says that adding an element dissonance to a dish makes it interesting, and that many chefs are too hung up on harmonious flavors. He uses a tomato to illustrate this point: "A burnt tomato, for example, has a dark crust bordering on bitter, while the inside is soft and gentle in texture and in taste."
This recipe for Burnt Ricotta Salata, Tomatoes, and Olives takes the harmonious combination of ingredients and adds a dissonant element by charring the cheese and chiles. While Mallmann is a fan of burnt flavors, he is careful not to take the charring too far or else it will destroy the nuances of the dish.
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- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 10 ounces ricotta salata
- 2 small red chiles
- Coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed rep pepper flakes
Whisk together the sugar, red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the oregano in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat.
Smash the olives with the side of a heavy knife and tear them open, removing the pits. Toss the olives and tomatoes together on a serving platter.
Break the ricotta salata into rough 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Halve the chiles, remove the seeds, and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Add the ricotta and toss with the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil.