Patagonian chef Francis Mallmann, known for his open-flame approach to cooking, has released a vegetarian cookbook showcasing grilled fruits and vegetables. He describes the transformative power of fire and smoke as “nothing short of alchemy.”
“I am entranced by the crackling crust of a thick slice of potato done on the plancha, the ineffable creaminess of an eggplant roasted in the embers; the sprightly sweetness of a tomato, ever so slowly confited in olive oil,” the chef wrote recently on Instagram, announcing his intention behind his plant-focused cookbook “Green Fire.” With summer right around the corner, there’s no better time to fire up the grill and see for yourself. Below, Mallmann’s recipe for roasted strawberries and ricotta and mint.
Excerpted from Green Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022
Roasted Strawberries With Ricotta and Mint
Strawberries have a strong affinity for dairy. The English adore their strawberries and cream while watching tennis players compete at Wimbledon. Strawberry shortcake with whipped cream is an American dessert classic. Eastern Europeans prepare blintzes with strawberries and farmer cheese. In this sumptuous dessert, I caramelize sugar, butter, and strawberries and spoon the molten stew over a dollop of ricotta topped with fresh mint.
2 pints (450 g) ripe strawberries
½ cup (113 g) sugar
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1½ cups (300 g) chilled ricotta cheese
A handful of fresh mint leaves
Prepare a fire for medium low heat and set a grate over it. Hull the berries and place in a bowl. If they are large, cut them in half lengthwise. Add the sugar and gently toss the berries to thoroughly coat. Pour the berries into a 9- or 10-inch (23- or 25-cm) cast iron skillet and dot with the butter. Set the pan on the grate (or on the stovetop over medium heat) and cook until the sugar melts and the berries begin to caramelize, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir occasionally as the butter melts into the caramelized sugar and berries and forms a sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the sauce into a bowl, leaving the berries in the warm skillet. Return the pan to the heat to brown the berries for a minute or so. Spoon the ricotta onto a serving dish and top with the roasted berries. Shower with the mint and serve the warm sauce on the side.