Posts Tagged "summer"

Roasted Tomatoes Part Three: Roasted Tomato Sauce with Peppers, Rigatoni and a Simple Basil Pesto

Ok, so these tomatoes are really only semi-roasted. When making sauces/soups/salsas, I like my roasted tomatoes to still be good and juicy. Still, this tomato recipe is everything I love about summer and tomatoes, all in one big dish.

First, before I get to the recipe, a few notes:

  • I often read recipes that first instruct you to remove the seeds and peel the skin off before using in a sauce. You’ll see that I didn’t do that here. If I was going to roast them for hours, I would probably remove the seeds, but for this sauce, I find it isn’t necessary. I don’t like to waste any part of these precious tomatoes. Of course, this is a personal preference, so certainly remove the seeds and skin, if you wish.
  • As for the pasta, I used rigatoni simply because I happened to have it on hand, and I was in the mood for a good, thick, chewy, white pasta. I think you could use just about any pasta shape, white or whole wheat, long or short (just as long as it can hold the sauce).
  • The pesto described below really isn’t a true pesto. Usually I use almonds and lemon juice when I make pesto, but for this dish, I really just wanted to savor the wonderful basil flavor with the tomatoes. The pesto, therefore, is very simple.

And now, the recipe:

tomatoes-8

Begin with 6 large beautiful heirloom plum tomatoes. (For those of you in Ohio, I got mine from Northridge Organic Farm.) Cut them in half and sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper, and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Toss 3 cloves of garlic on there, as well (peels still on).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. They will look like this when they’re done:

tomatoes-9

In the meantime, heat olive oil in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot. Add:

1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large red or green bell pepper, chopped
red pepper flakes

Sprinkle with salt and let them sauté for at least 10 minutes. Then add:

2 large tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 cup of water or white wine

Once the tomatoes and garlic are done, puree them in a food processor until smooth (don’t forget to remove the garlic peels!), then add them to the pot. Let everything simmer together for at least 20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, make the pesto by adding the following ingredients to a food processor:

2-3 cups of fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese
salt and pepper

Pour in olive oil while pureeing the above ingredients until the basil is finely chopped and the pesto can easily be poured out of the container. Pour the pesto into a small bowl and set aside.

To serve, you can either mix the sauce in with your pasta of choice or spoon the sauce on top of the pasta while serving. Top the pasta with some of the pesto and sprinkle it with Romano or parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

pasta-8

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Roasted Tomatoes Part Two: Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

I love making tomato soup. It is one of the most nourishing comfort foods that I can think of. I grew up eating tomato soup out of a can, so when I changed my eating habits, I had to find a new way to enjoy my favorite soup. I’ve discovered some good recipes that I use throughout the year, but none of them can compare to this recipe. Unlike my fall/winter recipes that use either canned tomatoes or frozen tomatoes, this one is all about fresh heirloom tomatoes. I roast them first to give them even more flavor, and I also include peppers, which you could easily leave out if you wish.

Start by selecting 4-5 heirloom tomatoes. Any variety is fine. I prefer using different colors. The yellow heirlooms are usually sweeter, and I have found that they add a wonderful flavor to the soup.

tomatoes for soup

 

tomatoes for soup 2

Preheat the oven to 400.

Core the tomatoes and cut them into thick slices and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Also add:

4 small or two large bell peppers, seeded and cut in half (as with the tomatoes, use different colors)
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut in half lengthwise 
2 cloves of garlic, peel on

Drizzle all of the ingredients with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add:

4 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped and rinsed well or 1 large onion, sliced

Season lightly with salt and cook those for at least ten minutes.

Once the tomatoes and peppers have roasted, add them to the pot. Be sure to get all of the juices into the pot and don’t forget to remove the garlic peels! Also add:

4 cups of vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons of arborio rice 

The rice helps thicken the soup. I like using arborio because I think it gives the soup a creamy texture, but any white rice is fine.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for about twenty minutes. Puree the mixture until smooth and taste for seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add broth or water.

tomato soup

Optional: If you want a creamier soup, stir in a large tablespoon of mascarpone cheese or a touch of cream.

Serve with crusty bread or croutons.

 

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Roasted Tomatoes Part One: Roasted Tomato Salsa

Confession: I didn’t liked tomatoes growing up, unless they were in the form of ketchup (which really doesn’t count) or tomato sauce or chopped up in tiny pieces (and that was questionable). Then, when I got older, I realized something. The types of tomatoes typically found in restaurants (you know, those soggy pinkish things) are not real tomatoes. Of course I didn’t like those (who does?). I still don’t. But a homegrown or locally grown tomato? Now that’s a real tomato, and it is so sweet and juicy that I can’t believe I lived for so many years without experiencing them. During my childhood, my dad always grew his own tomatoes, and him and my mom would rave about the flavor. I didn’t get it at the time. To me, a tomato was a tomato, and it was something to be avoided, unless it was pureed. Now, I’ve seen the light.

tomatoes

This post will begin a three part series in which I feature my current favorite way to prepare tomatoes: roasting. Yes, it means turning on a hot oven in the summer, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for these delicious dishes.

The first recipe is a simple one: Roasted Tomato Salsa.

This recipe is very similar to my previous recipe (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa). And I’m also going to begin this recipe with the same instruction as I did before: Unhook any smoke alarms near the kitchen. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange the following ingredients on a cookie sheet:

3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove of garlic, peel still on
Any other sweet/spicy peppers you have on hand (bell, poblano, and cubanelle all work well)

Tomatoes Tray

Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stick it in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, place the following ingredients into the food processor:

1/4 of a red or yellow onion, roughly chopped (red looks pretty, but I don’t always have it on hand, so yellow works too)
1 generous handful of cilantro (optional)

Add the ingredients from the cookie sheet. (Don’t forget to remove the garlic peel!) Pulse the mixture a few times and then puree to desired consistency.

Once smooth, poor the salsa into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of about half a lime into the mixture, stir and then taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

salsa

Serve it warm with your favorite tortilla chips. (Check out my recipe for homemade: Homemade Tortilla Chips.)

Note: This doesn’t make a lot, so if you’re serving more than a couple of people, double it.

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo salsa. Salsa verde. Green salsa. Call it whatever you like. It’s amazing stuff. I wait anxiously each year to see tomatillos appear at the markets. These tomatillos are from Northridge Organic, and I was thrilled when I saw them.

I’ve tried many recipes over the past few summers, many of which have added lots of various peppers, and I’ve discovered that I like the salsa as simple and pure as possible. I like to highlight the tomatillo flavor, not the other ingredients.

And so to begin:

Remove any smoke detectors near your kitchen and turn your kitchen fan on high. Things are about to get smokey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start by gathering:

about 20 tomatillos 

tomatillos 2

tomatillos 3

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them in a colander. If using more, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Spread the tomatillos on a baking sheet. Also add:

one large, or two small, jalapenos, halved twice and seeds/membrane removed. 

I only used one because it was huge. They ones I currently have are from my dad’s garden and are the size of my palm. If you want your salsa to be extra spicy, don’t remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno.

Also add:

One clove of garlic, peel still on

The peel allows the garlic to roast without burning. Sprinkle all of the ingredients with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Stick the baking sheet in the oven and roast for at least 15 minutes. They will start to burst and the pan will start to smoke. Don’t panic. That’s normal. You want them to char slightly for flavor. When they’re done, they will look like this:

roasting pan

Let cool on the pan for a minute. In the meantime, get out your food processor. Add:

1/4 cup of yellow onion, roughly chopped

1 hand full of cilantro

Also carefully add the tomatillos, jalapeno, and garlic (don’t forget to remove the peel!). Be sure to scrap in any juices from the pan. Give the mixture a few pulses and then puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Also a few drops of lime juice. Add a little at a time and taste until it’s at your liking. I have found that it doesn’t need much.

salsa

This salsa is wonderful warm.

Serve with my homemade chips or poor on top of enchiladas (recipe coming soon!).

 

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Warm Potato Salad with Mustard and Dill

I love potato salad in all of its glorious forms. I grew up eating two different kinds of potato salads: the typical midwest version that’s covered in mayo and has hard boiled eggs mixed in (and sometimes bacon), and also my great-grandmother’s Italian version, which has an olive oil-based dressing, bacon, and chives.  Though I love both, in recent years, I discovered another one that I love just as well. The one I will describe below I consider to be more of a French-style potato salad. It’s wonderful warm but can be served chilled as well. And the farmers’ market has wonderful red-skinned potatoes right now, so it’s a perfect time to make this salad.

Potato

Start by boiling:

1 pound of red skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered

Boil them in enough water so that they’re covered by about an inch of water. Don’t boil them in too much water, for they’ll loose their flavor. And don’t forget to salt the water.

In the meantime, select a bowl large enough to not only hold all of the potatoes, but also one that has room enough for you to stir the potatoes without making a mess all over the counter. In the bottom of the bowl, whisk together:

1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh dill, chopped*
a dash of paprika
salt and pepper

Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and then add them directly to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Toss the potatoes with the dressing. Since they are steaming hot, the potatoes will absorb the mustard and create a wonderful fragrance. While they are still steaming hot, add:

a few splashes of vinegar (champagne, red-wine, and apple cider all work well)

Also add more olive oil, if need be, and taste to see if they need more salt, pepper or mustard.

Serve while it’s still warm.

*The dill in the above photo is from my little apartment balcony herb garden. That’s the wonderful thing about herbs. You don’t need a lot of space to grow them, and one plant will give you wonderful herbs all summer.

 

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