Ross’ Tomato and Feta Skillet Bake – Don’t Ask!

Tomato and feta skillet bake (7 of 9)

There are questions in life that one simply doesn’t ask. Don’t ask a woman her dress size, her age or how many glasses of Pinot Grigio she drank this morning. Whatever you do, don’t ask when the baby is due. Don’t ask a man when he was last in the gym, how much he earns or how many pints he knocks back in a week. For that, don’t ask him when the baby is due either. Any of you from the creative industry will know to not ask for the original video footage or the InDesign files. Don’t ask a cyclist how much he or she spent on the bike (See footnote). All of you should know to never ask a chef for his recipe. It’s just not done. So, when one of Ireland’s top flight Chef Patrons offers you a recipe, take it and try it. But, don’t ask for another. It’s simply not done.

Earlier in the year, a bunch of us ventured over to France to take on various challenges on the “Beast of Bedoin”, Mont Ventoux. It is an awesome mountain. Going up it once is difficult enough (21 kilometres at an average 7%+). Going up all three sides in a day can earn one membership of the elite Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux. A few of us took that on. But, that’s a tale for another day. There were a couple of top chefs and restaurateurs in our group, one of whom is Ross Lewis, the affable Corkman who presides over the Michelin starred Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin city. Ross was using the trip to try out his new bike. She is a beauty. (I didn’t ask the price and by the look of it neither should you.)

While cycling through the Burgundian countryside, we talked about restaurants, we talked about food, we talked about wine. I didn’t ask for a recipe. We did talk about people who do and how to deal with them. As we neared our hotel after a particularly enjoyable spin, Ross said “Here’s a recipe you should try.” He didn’t give it a name so I’m calling it “Ross’ Tomato and Feta Skillet Bake”.

 

Ingredients

  • 12 to15 high grade cherry tomatoes
  • 150 g feta cheese
  • 100ml quality olive oil
  • 2 cloves of good garlic
  • 15 or so basil leaves
  • Handful of rocket
  • Sprig or two of rosemary
  • Sprig or two if thyme
  • Salt and pepper

You will need a cast iron frying pan / skillet too.

Peel and chop the garlic.

Tomato and feta skillet bake

Great ingredients make for a great dish.

Warm (not hot) the pan and add the oil. When this is warm too, add the rosemary, thyme and garlic. Allow this to infuse for a while over a low heat. Add the tomatoes.

 

Tomato and feta skillet bake

Don’t try to make this happen quickly. You will ruin the dish.

These will take about 30 minutes to break down in the oil. Don’t rush this part of the process. When the tomatoes are starting to wilt and their juices are mixing nicely with the oil, cut up the feta cheese into chunky pieces. Add these to the pan.

Tomato and feta skillet bake

Ross warned me to use good quality feta. This is “barrel aged” so it must be good.

Let the feta soften for a minute or two before taking off the heat before adding the rocket and basil. Sliced the rocket if large leafs, not if small. Pluck the basil leafs from a plant and tear them just before adding. Stir to wilt the leafs.

Side note on basil: I always pick my basil leaves within seconds of adding them to any dish. They degrade very quickly and it’s worth having a couple of plants on the go.

That basil is about as fresh as it gets. 30 seconds from windowsill to dish.

Get your sourdough toast on and then season the bake with some salt and pepper.

Tomato and feta skillet bake (6 of 9)

I love a good action shot. Don’t overdo the salt as the feta has a bit going on.

Bring the skillet to the table and serve directly onto the sourdough slices. This is a delightful dish that Ross tells me he cooks at home. It is a family favourite in his house. It’s now a family favourite in ours too.

Tomato and feta skillet bake (8 of 9)

We enjoyed it with a punchy, rustic Spanish wine. It was perfect with it. Do remember, don’t ask those questions.

Footnote on bike pricing: No self respecting cyclist will tell you the truth of what they spent on their bike. I’ll save you the bother of asking. The answer is €/£/$400. The reason this is the answer is that anybody who has not enjoyed the joy of cycling will not understand spending any more than this on a mere bike. Anybody who has, will know enough to not ask. 

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Latest comments
  • That sounds really good. I am in awe of your cycling exploits, I can barely wobble to the shop on my (cheap) lady-bike-with-a-basket. 🙂

      • I’m sure you earned the extra toast. 😉

  • Well, let me make it easy for you. I am 58, and for that reason alone, no baby will be due anytime in the future!
    😉

    great recipe, great post, nothing like a good laugh in the morning…

  • Good morning Conor … I’m not familiar with “Rocket” on this side of the pond … can you please enlighten this old, dumb Butcher?
    Cheers 😎

  • I’ve been waiting for this recipe for a while now, I was trying to hear it in real time on the day :u) I can’t wait to try it.

  • This sounds like the cooked version of a dish I had in Barcelona at one of Albert Adria’s restaurants. Just fresh tomatoes with salt, pepper, and olive oil, served with house-made feta with some pepper, oil, and herbs. It was delicious, but this sounds nicer for cooler weather.

  • Oh my, this will go great with my morning pinot grigio. LOL.

  • Great job on Mont Ventoux! I had the pleasure of riding up a couple of years ago and it was epic! I love your blog along with all the recipes!

  • Ah, that sounds delish. My only fear is that there’d be nothing left to serve, I’d have picked at the pan the whole time it was cooking!

      • That sounds just a little like experience speaking…

  • I heed the ‘warning’ about using sentences with question-marks at the end – would hate to fall out of favour 🙂 ! Lovely simple recipe . . . like the touch of rosemary . . . oh, since I oft talk about being a bub at the end of WWII – any readers can do their own maths . . . and I’ll happily refute in a typically female fashion !

  • This dish sounds amazing! And so simple! Yum!

  • I love this! My Dad did The Ventoux a few times, yet, not on the same day! I’d say you had fun… Was the guy still there taking pictures at the summit for you to buy? While your tongue is still entangled in “The rayons” of the front wheel? 😀 😉

  • I think a nice Virginia Pinot Gris would do before breakfast, but that’s just my opinion…lol! This looks fabulous minus the Arugula. I just haven’t developed a taste for it yet.

  • This is a fabulous dish! I once saw a comedian say that he was never going to ask a woman if she was pregnant/when is the baby due unless he sees the actual baby coming out between her legs! So funny. It’s certainly kept me from asking.

      • I’ve done it as well. Shame on me. But wow did you look really pregnant!

  • Conor, great story and do tell more about your taking of the Beast of Bedoin. If you see your friend Ross, give him a big thank you from me, as this is a smashing dish. It made a great lunch, paired with some prosciutto and yes a glass of red.

  • Conor – some unbelievable and incredibly bad news regarding one ‘of us’ came up on one of the posts this morning here If anyone would know, you would . . . may one ask . . . . Eha

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