Posts Tagged tomato

Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic & Honey

My level of productivity has greatly declined during the Olympic games.

I’m not sure why, but I am really into the the 2012 games. I’m over-eager and excited. I’m invested in the stories of the athletes, and carefully choose my heroes. I’m so over Michael Phelps. I adore Gabby Douglas.

Honestly, I feel like a kid again. Back in those days, my sisters and I would huddle in front of the television and cheer on our favorite athletes (the ice skaters and gymnasts, of course). Oh, how we loathed Oksana Baiul! And how we loved Kristy Yamaguchi!

I’m telling you, I’m a nerd about this stuff.

And somewhere in the midst of all this Olympics madness, I’ve carved out a little bit of time to cook. It’s finally tomato season in the Northwest, and thus this recipe was born.

I have a Sun Gold cherry tomato plant in my backyard, and it produces a lot of tomatoes. It’s a crazy little plant and I can hardly keep up with the tomato production. If there was a tomato Olympics, I’m pretty sure my plant would get a medal. (See what I did there? I brought it all back to the Olympics).

So, if you’re in the throes of cherry tomato season and need a good recipe for your arsenal: this one is a gem. It’s simple, elegant, and ridiculously tasty. It’s like a better version of tomato bruschetta (who knew it could get any better?).

As for me, I’m off to watch more of the Olympic games. Go USA!



ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO BRUSCHETTA WITH HONEY & BALSAMIC

Adapted from Cheesy Melty Toasty
Makes 1 cup of roasted tomatoes, enough for 8-10 small appetizers.

Ingredients:
1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of sungolds and red grape tomatoes)
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1.5 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil
Baguette slices
Ricotta cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place halved cherry tomatoes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Roast cherry tomatoes in the oven for an hour and a half, or until the tomatoes are brown and caramelized.

While tomatoes are roasting, slice 1/2 of a baguette into thin slices. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on the stove top. Toast bread slices in the skillet, 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden and crisp). Set aside.

When the tomatoes are ready, remove from the oven. Remove the roasted tomatoes to a bowl and allow to cool. Once the tomatoes have cooled to room temperature, toss with the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add in the honey, red chili flakes, minced garlic. Slice the basil into a chiffonade (very thin strips) and toss 1/2 of the basil into the cherry tomato mixture. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Slather each piece of toasted baguette with fresh ricotta cheese. Top with the roasted cherry tomato bruschetta, and garnish with a bit more sliced fresh basil. Feel free to drizzle a little extra honey over the top. Eat and enjoy.

Note: basil bruises easily and turns a sad blackish-brown color after awhile. I like to slice the basil right before serving so it’s bright & green & lovely!

Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

I’m not making any claims that this is the best tomato sauce of all time. If you’re looking for the best tomato sauce of all time, you may want to consult Scott Conant, Mario Batali, or some other famed Italian chef. This isn’t one of those tomato sauces.

However, I can claim that this is a good tomato sauce recipe. A really good tomato sauce recipe – one that I invented myself, with a little help and inspiration from others. At the end of the day, it’s a basic tomato sauce made with the last of the ripe tomatoes from my garden.

All that to say, I’m not going to go on and on about tomato sauce as if I’m an expert on the subject. I’m not. But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to making (and using) tomato sauce. First of all, I figured out a way to make tomatoes peel themselves. You see, I hate (hate!) blanching, peeling and de-seeding tomatoes. It is a tedious and obnoxious task. So, then, I figured out that if you quickly roast the tomatoes underneath your broiler, the skins pretty much just come right off. I simply halve the tomatoes, sqeeze out the seeds, and then broil them for 8-10 minutes (or until the skins blacken and loosen from the tomato flesh). It’s a win-win situation: the tomatoes get a bit of smokiness from the ‘fire roasting’ and the skins come off easily. No blanching required!

Secondly – and this may sound painfully obvious – use high quality or heirloom tomatoes when making tomato sauce. Your sauce will taste as good as the tomatoes you put in it. Those sad, bruised, unripened Roma tomatoes at the grocery store? Don’t use those. It’s as simple as that.

And lastly, I want to share with you my new favorite way to enjoy tomato sauce: baked with rounds of goat cheese, and enjoyed with a fresh baguette. And yes, of course, I eat a lot of tomato sauce with pasta. But I made a giant batch of this sauce and was looking to use it in a number of different ways. And let me tell you, baking goat cheese in tomato sauce is dangerously delicious. I made it one evening while Nich was at work and I may have devoured it al by myself. Oops?

So, then, the actual recipe that I’m posting is for my fire roasted tomato sauce. But my helpful suggestion is to bake some goat cheese in that sauce. Just make sure that someone else is around to ensure you don’t gobble it all down by yourself. :)

FIRE ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
(Inspired from recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Vie La Table)
5lbs of tomatoes
1 small carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup red wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper, to taste

First, halve the tomatoes (from top to bottom) and cut off stems. De-seed the tomatoes, by either squeezing them over a bowl (or trash can) or by using a spoon or your fingers to remove seeds. I find that fingers work best!

Turn on your broiler. Place halved tomatoes, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet (be sure to use a rimmed baking sheet, as there will be a lot of tomato juice!). Place baking sheet under the broiler and roast the tomatoes until the skins have blackened (about 8-10 minutes). Repeat this process until all tomatoes have been roasted. Set tomatoes aside and allow to cool. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove their skins and pour off any juices. The skins should come off very easily (the roasting does the work for you).

In a dutch oven or large pot, heat butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown (10-15 minutes). Deglaze the pan with red wine, and add in the bay leaf, rosemary and oregano sprigs. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, and then add in the roasted tomatoes, dried basil, and salt & pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or more. The longer you let this sauce simmer, the better it will be. When you feel the sauce is ready, remove from heat. After 30 (or more) minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Blend with an immersion blender (or food processor) until smooth. Serve over pasta (or bake with goat cheese!). The sauce will keep in the fridge for a week (or more).

Garden Gazpacho

Oh, Oregon. You silly little state, you. Here we are, well into the month of September and it is positively roasting outside. July and August were nice, but it wasn’t until now that it actually got hot. Our summer arrived two months late. Oh well, better late than never, right?

So, while the rest of the country is gearing up for Fall and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, I’m wearing sundresses and drinking iced coffee. My garden is spewing forth tomatoes at lightning speed, and yet I simply can’t bring myself to cook them. It is far too hot to cook.

So what do I do when it’s too hot to cook? Honestly, I usually go to my favorite taco truck. But, a girl can’t live on tacos alone (Lord knows I’ve tried!). So, this weekend I decided to put my taco cravings aside and instead put all my garden tomatoes to good use. I made a big batch of fresh tomato gazpacho.

I’ll admit, I’m a little embarrassed that I’m posting this so soon after my Fresh Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary recipe. Gazpacho is, after all, not too different than a bloody mary. They are both liquid recipes with a tomato base. They both contain a ton of vegetables and have a hint of spice. But, of course, my gazpacho recipe doesn’t contain vodka. And my bloody mary recipe doesn’t call for stale bread. Really, truly, the two taste completely different. The gazpacho is surprisingly rich, complex, and smoky. The addition of bread crumbs gives the gazpacho a lovely thick texture, and the dollop of avocado on top adds just the right amount of richness. This soup was everything I wanted (and more) on a hot September day.

So, I do hope you’ll forgive me if I continue to post tomato recipes in the coming weeks. As the rest of the country transitions into Fall, the sun is still shining brightly in Portland. So I’m going to celebrate the flavors of summer for as long as I can. I’m going to wear sundresses and eat gazpacho, damn it.

In the wise words of Pedro the Lion: “God bless the Indian summer.” God bless it, indeed.

Garden Gazpacho
Makes 4 servings

Note: This recipe could be changed, morphed, & adapted in a million ways. I chose to roast the roma tomatoes as I wanted some of the richness of flavor that comes with roasting the tomatoes. The heirloom tomatoes were just so lovely that I didn’t have the heart to roast them, and I thought a balance of fresh and roasted tomatoes would be nice. If you don’t have the time or energy to roast your own tomatoes or red bell peppers, you can buy either of these items at the store. I highly recommend Muir Glen Organic fire roasted tomatoes.

3 large heirloom tomatoes, skinned & peeled
7-8 small red (Roma) tomatoes
1 piece stale bread
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 mild pepper (such as Anaheim, poblano, etc)
1 cucumber
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 small carrots
1/2 of a red onion
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Optional: splash of tomato juice

Avocado, for garnish
Olive oil, for finishing

Prep the vegetables: Peel & seed the cucumber and large heirloom tomatoes. Halve the roma tomatoes and remove as many seeds as possible. Place halved roma tomatoes in a shallow baking dish and place under the broiler until their skins have blackened (5-7 minutes). Once the tomatoes have broiled, the skins should have loosened. Discard skins. (I left a couple of the skins on as I like having the blackened bits in my gazpacho). Using either your broiler or flame (if you have a gas stove), roast your red pepper. Place red pepper over flame (or under broiler), rotating until all sides are blackened. Once skin is blackened, place red pepper in a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to set in bowl and steam for 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel off outer layer of blackened skin.

Gently toast stale bread (in the oven or toaster) until firm & crunchy. Remove crusts and pulse in a food processor, until the bread becomes coarse crumbs.

In a food processor or blender, blend together all vegetables (except avocado) with the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and paprika (and tomato juice, if using). Puree until smooth. Taste and season with salt (and pepper, if desired).

Chill for at least an hour (the longer, the better), to allow the flavors to meld. Prior to serving, stir in a small amount of olive oil. Garnish with cubes of avocado.

Quinoa Tabouleh

My husband finds it incredibly ironic that my first post-Lent blog is for a vegan dish. (Note: the Radish & Leek Toasts don’t count. Even though I posted them after Lent, I made and consumed them during Lent).

Ok, I’ll admit…it is slightly ironic.

But, to be fair, the (vegan) quinoa tabouleh was served alongside of a roasted leg of lamb and a host of other non-vegan Easter delectables. I’m simply choosing to post my tabouleh recipe because it is really quite delicious (and because my friend Beyth has been begging me to post it for months).

That being said, Lent is over!!! Nich and I celebrated Easter in true Greek fashion, at St. John’s in Beaverton. Easter service begins at 11:30pm on Saturday and goes until about 3:30am (yes, you read that correctly. Church goes until 3:30 in the morning!). When the service was over, everyone broke the fast together and feasted on meat, cheese, wine, and other goodies. I can honestly say I’ve never drank wine with a priest (at church!) at 4:00 in the morning. It was kind of awesome.

But, in all seriousness, I loved every minute of it. The Orthodox know how to fast, but even more so, they know how to feast. There was so much joy in the whole experience, as people ate and drank together and celebrated the resurrection. You could see it in people’s eyes – they really believe it. Christos anesti. He is risen.

I feel grateful and humbled by the whole experience. Giving up meat, dairy and wine for 6 weeks wasn’t easy. But it was worth it. I learned a lot about myself. Quite frankly, I learned that it is good to go without.

So, I’m back to eating meat and dairy. And yet, here I am posting a meat and dairy-free recipe. The thing is, I really like vegan food. And while I’m not a full time vegan, I appreciate so much of what the vegan diet has to offer. I still plan on incorporating a lot of vegan meals into our meal rotation. That being said, I love cheese (and pork!) far too much to give it up completely. :)

So, all of this to say: use this tabouleh recipe in whatever way you please! It could easily be the star of a vegan meal, or it could be a lovely compliment to a roast leg of lamb. And of course, Happy Easter, happy Passover, and happy Spring. I hope this beautiful season finds you well.

Quinoa Tabouleh

1.5 cups uncooked Quinoa
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 bunch of curly parsley (not flat leaf), stems removed
2 Tablespoons fresh mint
1 small red onion (or 1/2 a large red onion)
The juice of 2 lemons
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (*you could use a full bell pepper, but I only had 1/2 on hand!)
1/4 cup olive oil (more, if needed)

Method:

Cook quinoa according to package directions (I cook mine in the rice cooker like rice. 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa). Set aside, allow quinoa to cool.

Chop vegetables into a very small dice. I use a food processor to chop the red onion, parsley and min. I chop the tomato and bell pepper by hand (as I like my tomato and bell pepper to be a slightly larger dice than everything else in the tabouleh).

Once the quinoa has full cooled, mix in tomato, parsley, onion, bell pepper and mint. Stir in lemon juice and olive oil. Season with fresh black pepper. Taste, and add more olive oil if the tabouleh seems dry.

Allow to sit for at least a couple hours before serving. The longer the tabouleh sits, the better it will taste. Squeeze a little extra fresh lemon juice over the tabouleh prior to serving.

Shakshuka

So, a few days ago I posted a random compilation of thoughts and goals for 2011. I didn’t think long and hard about it, but just threw out some ideas that I’d been thinking about, recipes I’d wanted to try, and things along these lines.

So, here I am, just a few days later: and I can already cross one of these things off my list. I made Shakshuka!

OK, so many of you are probably wondering what in the world shakshuka is. I only recently learned of this dish, when my friend Cait announced that she was going to make it for our weekly girl’s night dinner. When I heard she was making shakshuka, I had a “What the…?” moment. I had never heard of such a thing. But after a quick wiki-ing, I learned that it is a mediterreanean tomato and pepper stew with poached eggs. (Cait said that growing up, her family called it “Eggs in Hell”, which I think is a rather fitting description.)

So, I had my very first taste of skakshuka at Cait’s house and it was wonderful. And then, literally the next day I started seeing shakshuka everywhere. All of the sudden, shakshuka was all the rage in Portland. You see, all the Portland papers started announcing their 2010 Best Restaurant lists and a new place called Tasty N Sons was at the top every list. And what did they all say was the dish to get at Tasty N Sons? That’s right: shakshuka.

So, Nich and I decided to see what all the fuss was about. We waited an hour for a table (at 11:00am on a Thursday!) and eagerly awaited our shakshuka. It did not disappoint. I can’t say I was as thrilled with all the other Tasty N Sons dishes (sorry, it was good, but not BEST restaurant in Portland good.), but the shakshuka was astonishingly delicious. We were impressed with the depth of flavors that a mere tomato and pepper stew could bring to the table. The dish was hearty, filling, and comforting. It was so delicious, in fact, that Nich and I vowed to make our own.

Flash forward to a few nights later, and Nich and I were at home without much in the way of plans for the evening. I had just baked a fresh loaf of bread, there was a Blazers game on, and we needed to figure out something to make for dinner. After flipping through The New Book of Middle Eastern Food - a wedding present and one of my favorite cookbooks – we saw a recipe for authentic shakshuka and decided to go for it. The recipe doesn’t take a lot of speciality ingredients, it isn’t complicated, and it’s relatively quick to make. Plus, I had just bought really wonderful local eggs (from the Urban Farm Store) and we were thrilled to poach them in such a worthy sauce.

Even though it was our first attempt, I would venture to say that our shakshuka rivals the only other two I’ve tried (Cait’s and Tasty N Sons). It was thick, rich, and flavorful – and we looooooooooved it. I can already tell that this will be a staple in our household.

SHAKSHUKA
(Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food – which is a wonderful cookbook and I highly recommend it!)
Serves 4-6
(*Note: many add sausage to their shakshuka. The Tasty N Sons version had lamb merguez sausage and it was wonderful. We didn’t have any sausage, so we made ours vegetarian).

2 large (28oz) cans whole tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced thin
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1.5 tsps Harissa paste
1 pinch saffron (*optional)
2 tsps ground cumin
Dash of red chili flakes
1.5 tsps smoked paprika
Salt & pepper, to taste
4-6 farm fresh eggs

Garnishes:
Crusty bread and/or warm pita
Crumbled feta
Fresh parsley

Method:

1. First, you must roast the bell peppers (you can use store bought roasted peppers, but roasting your own is really the best). There are a couple different ways you can go about this. If you have a gas stovetop, you can turn on a burner and roast the peppers (use metal tongs!) over the open flame. Rotate the pepper often, until the skin is blackened on all sides. If you do not have a gas stove, you can roast your peppers by broiling them in your oven, making sure to turn often so the skin blackens on all sides. Once the skin has blackened, place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Once they have cooled enough to handle, remove the skin (it should come off easily at this point) and then thinly slice the roasted peppers.

Put a generous amount (2 Tbl) olive oil in a heavy pan, dutch oven, or cast iron skillet and heat over med-high heat. Add in sliced onions and cook until nearly translucent. Lower the heat slightly and add in minced garlic and roasted peppers, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomatoes (and juices), harissa, and spices. (If using whole canned tomatoes, crush with your hands, a potato masher, etc.) Heat on Med until the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least a half hour.

Once the mixture has thickened and some of the liquid has reduced, taste and season to your preference (I like it a little spicy!). When the tomato sauce is ready, crack 4 (or 6, depending on how many people you are feeding) eggs on top of the tomato sauce. For ease, I recommend cracking the eggs into small individual bowls and lowering the bowls into the tomato mixture, and letting the egg slide out of the bowl gently onto the sauce. Cover the pan and let the eggs cook in the liquid until the whites are opaque (about 6 minutes).

Gently ladle into shallow bowls (1 egg per person) and serve with crusty bread or pita. Garnish with fresh parsley and crumbled feta.