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Recreating Frank Stitt’s Tomato and Pea Salad – Bottega Cafe


Tasty Tuesday – Meg’s Late Summer Heirloom Salad Recipe Recreation


Recipe Remake-Meg’s Heirloom Tomato Salad Frank Stitt’s Bottega Cafe

If you want to read about why I have been inspired to recreate this recipe, read on.  If you just want the dang recipe, here it is!

  1. Buy some ripe heirloom tomatoes, especially the dark red varieties. When they are ripe, slice them up and throw them on a plate. *About ½ of a large tomato per person. Never put them in the fridge (under 50 degrees) because that makes them less flavorful, ie nasty.
  2. Buy fresh peas or beans, shell them or buy them shelled.  If using dried, soak them overnight, and then cook them. I love butter beans, field peas, crowder peas, zipper peas, black-eyed peas, etc….*See below for technique.
  3. Slice up some real mozzarella. I like BelGioioso because I’m from Wisconsin and it’s dang good cheese. You can buy this in most smart supermarkets and even at Costco.
  4. Get some fresh basil, clean the leaves with a quick dip in water, take the stems off and throw them on the plate.
  5. Pour the best and freshest extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables just a bit will do. * See Below for notes on infused olive oil.
  6. Crack a bit of fresh pepper on top of the salad.
  7. Add whatever you want ie some parsley, cucumbers, onions or keep it simple.
  8. Serve it for a nutritious appetizer to share or a complete meal, with a side of french bread.

The Blog/The Story

For those of you who have followed me, you know that I made it to 100 trying 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. There are actually 229 dishes so 129 that I have not yet tasted. But, that is another story.

Tasting the dishes has been an absolute blast. I have learned so much, made new friends, written about my experiences, and through this list trying some of the best food that I have tasted in my life. Some of these dishes will haunt me forever.

Frank Stitt is my favorite Chef in the whole world and although I love each of his restaurants, I really enjoyed my visit to Bottega and later purchased his cookbook entitled, Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita, A Southern Chef’s Love Affair With Italian Food. The forward describes Bottega’s style as “…combines Southern cooking ideology and Italian tradition to craft a new style of eating…I think it is one of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy.” – Mario Batali [1]

I visited Bottega to taste their signature appetizer and my 100th Alabama dish, it was like nothing I have ever tasted before. A perfect visit to celebrate my 100th, You can read the blog from my visit to the multiple nominated and awarded James Beard Chef Frank Stitt, his team, and my visit to one of the Stitt restaurants, Bottega in Birmingham Alabama.   100 of 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die The Best of the Best at Bottega

When I walked in, I saw this enticing display of interesting and fresh tomatoes.

bottega tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes of the day. Bottega, Birmingham, AL

Of course, I needed to taste their Heirloom Tomato Salad With Field Peas.

Bottega salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad with field peas, Arugula, and Mozzarella at Bottega, Birmingham, AL

You might say it was love at first bite. I absolutely lost my mind over this salad and remember thinking; I wish someone could make this salad for me at least once a week. It was so delicious and seemingly simple. Let me stop there.

To think that I could recreate James Beard award-winning Chef Frank Stitt’s magic in a seemingly *simple* recipe was possibly naive. But, I tried several times, in a period of about one year. I think, I finally may have come close.  Because the tomato season in South Carolina is winding down, this was the last hurrah before it turns cooler.

 Finding in-season heirloom tomatoes is pretty easy where I live. I am lucky to live in farming country and have several places to choose fresh and interesting tomatoes.


South Carolina Farmer’s Market Heirloom Tomatoes

From the Farmers Market, I picked the Cherokee Purple and Brandywine for the acidity and for great color, Candy Stripe and a groovy variety called Berkely Tie Dye.  For the smaller tomatoes, I chose Sweet-100 varieties. I also picked up my field peas, butter beans, and black-eyed peas.


MEGAtips and MEGathoughts.

My rating A+ The first time that I attempted this recipe, I gave myself a C+

Easy way-Buy canned beans.

The James Beard award-winning method – Buy fresh beans and peas in season, or use dried beans and peas and cook with the following method.

My estimate of 1 cup of dried beans and peas will make an ample 4 servings for this recipe. If you are using dried beans and peas, it is best to soak them overnight. Drain the beans otherwise you may have “stomach issues.”

  1. Bring the water and herbs to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • ½ leek
  • ½ onion
  • ½ carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • herbs of your choosing tied together. Thyme, Marjoram
  1. Add the drained beans and/or peas.
  2. Return to a simmer and cook until slightly tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt if needed. Cover the pot with a lid and rest in liquid for 10 minutes. Drain.

Olive Oil-

The easy way, find a Tuscan Infused Olive Oil. Many cities have specialty olive oil stores. Other suppliers are stores such as Williams-Sonoma, Etsy, Amazon or sometimes your local grocer. However, try to use fresh EVOO.

The James Beard Way-Buy from Bottega Restaurant or, make your own. I was told that the Bottega Infused Olive Oil had 16 ingredients.

[1] Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita


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