Archive for the ‘tomatoes’ Category

it must be summer… i’m just making salad and condiments.

the other day we had some sausage from Tails and Trotters, a local meat purveyor. among the small selection that we had were some spicy italian sausage, which i love to have with a sweet tomato relish. my grandmother’s recipe uses fresh tomatoes as well as peppers and onions, and takes quite awhile to prepare and can. i just wanted something similar in a small quantity, so i made up a quick, half- hearted substitute that turned out pretty well. considering.

i threw into a pan on the stove: 1 can of fire- roasted diced tomatoes, about 1/2 cup combination of brown and white sugar, pinch of salt, about 1/8 – 1/4 t ground clove, 1/4 – 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 t ground nutmeg, about 1/4 t ground ginger, and a bay leaf. i added about 1/2 cup of cider vinegar and a couple T of red wine and let it boil until it had thickened– about 10 – 15 minutes. when i removed it from the heat, i added about 4 T more of cider vinegar [to taste] and served it on the sausage. if i had time and/or was thinking i would have chopped up a small yellow onion and thrown that in…

and fyi this is not a canning recipe; the ball jar just happened to be the closest thing within reach. you have to go to gina’s blog at crowsnsquirrels.com


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i really was craving eggplant parmigiana, but a traditional recipe leaves me feeling really, really full with all that cheese. this was a great alternative; it combines grilled eggplant and tomatoes with other ingredients and is put under the broiler.

i sliced off the ends of one medium/large eggplant and sliced it lengthwise into five pieces. i had one large heirloom tomato that i cut horizontally into four slices [after removing the stem and stem core– about 3/4″ into the tomato]. this recipe makes the perfect amount for two people when accompanied by a salad. if you want a little more, or you like the flavor, add another tomato.

rub each slice with olive oil on both sides and grill the eggplant on medium/high, lid down. after they are brown, flip them and cook the other side. rub the tomatoes with olive oil and sear quickly on a very hot spot on the grill. flip and sear again, then remove. make sure the eggplant is cooked through; turn the heat down if you need to until they are soft. if you like more vegetables you could also grill some onions or zucchini at the same time.


after you have flipped the eggplant, turn on the broiler in your oven.

place three of the smaller slices of eggplant on a shallow dish. i added a little olive oil, but you don’t really need to.

chop a couple of hands full of italian flat- leaf parsley with a few cloves of fresh garlic. if you like basil, throw some in there, too. if you don’t like the flavor of fresh garlic, you can sauté after you chop it, then add to the parsley. salt and pepper the eggplant, then layer half of the parsley mixture on top of the eggplant. add the tomato slices on top. add the remaining eggplant, salt and pepper, then the remaining parsley and garlic. if you grilled extra tomatoes or other vegetables, layer them in, adding the parsley on the top. make sure you add any liquid left behind by the eggplant and tomatoes, and drizzle with about 3 T of red wine; it adds a little bit of acid and makes the juices a bit more rich. sprinkle some bread crumbs on top of the parsley, drizzle with a little olive oil, then add grated parmesan [reggiano] cheese. if you want to add some other cheese, you can layer some in the middle and put some on top before adding the parmesan. i would recommend fresh mozzarella, but if you like that stringy effect, use the aged mozzarella. if you add cheese in the middle, make sure the vegetables are hot before you put it under the broiler.

place under broiler until the cheese is brown.

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i love, love lebanese food. this is one of my favorite salads made with tomatoes, cucumbers, and toasted pita bread. i’ve had it many places, and it is always different. the traditional way to make it is with sumac, it gives it a very burnt red color; i have never prepared food with sumac and honestly should look it up. the way i make it is the way it was introduced to me in a little restaurant 30 years ago. the italians make a similar bread salad, panzanella.

the following recipe makes enough for two people to have it as a main course:

rip one large piece of pita bread in half, then open up the pocket and split it apart. put it on a cookie sheet and toast it under the broiler until it is well toasted. take the pan out and turn over the bread occasionally, the edges curl up and will burn before the rest of the piece is toasted.

cut up about 2 cups of tomatoes; i used about 7 – 1 1/2″ salad tomatoes on the vine. i’ve said this before, but especially in winter, smaller tomatoes have much better flavor. add about  6″ of a seedless english cucumber, diced; i like the skin left on. add about 1/3 cup chopped mint, and about 2/3 cup chopped italian, flat leaf parsley. you can also add dried mint. some people use only dried mint, but i love the fresh mint or fresh and dried together. add the juice from one lemon, about 1/3 cup olive oil [to taste, really], and 1/2 t sea salt [also to taste]. press one large clove of garlic through a press and finely chop. mix well, then add the toasted pita, broken up into pieces. i leave the garlic out to serve my daughter, then add the clove to what is left, essentially having double the garlic. if you love raw garlic, add two cloves; it fights cancer. so i hear.

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tabouli made with quinoa [traditionally made with wheat bulgar] is so great. i would be hard pressed to find a single dish that had more fiber and nutritional value for your fork- full. quinoa is very high in protein and complex amino acids for a vegetarian source, and parsley and raw garlic are two of the best foods you can eat.

measure 1 cup of quinoa into a pan with 2 cups of water and 1/2 t of sea salt. cover and let simmer, 10-15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. let rest. while it is still a bit warm, squeeze the juice of one lemon into the quinoa. add one large bunch of chopped italian, flat- leaf parsley, chopped tomatoes [this time of year, the smaller ones have way better flavor], and about 1/4 cup of good olive oil. press 2-3 cloves of garlic through a press, chopping off the garlic as it is extruded in 1/16″ increments with a sharp, but disposable, knife [don’t use a good knife metal on metal]. taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

i have made this with wild rice before. i try not to eat too much wheat because of it’s inflammatory effect, and quinoa has a much better nutritional profile. i never get tired of parsley, garlic, and olive oil.

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pasta ricotta

this reminds me of summer pasta. after my cabbage disaster this afternoon, this was culinary redemption.

boil one half pound of penne in salted water. while it’s cooking, mix the following in a bowl: 1 c ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 c half and half, 1-2 cloves of garlic *finely* chopped, 1/4 to 1/2 c grated reggiano, salt, pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg.

when the pasta is done, drain and add to cheese mixture and stir until the cheese starts to thicken a bit and creates a sauce. stir in at least one cup of finely chopped baby spinach and italian, flat leaf parsley. you can add some basil as well, but that’s so predictable! serve with cut fresh tomatoes on top, more reggiano, salt, chile flakes,
and pepper.

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i don’t know about you, but i have a LOT of turkey stock! before my stove blew up and i was without a stove for two weeks, i had procured green tomatoes from a couple of friends to make green relish. well, they ripened! so i was lucky enough to get TRULY the last red tomatoes of the year. because they were not ripened on the vine, the normal tomato-y fresh aroma is not as strong, however, roasting tomatoes brings out their flavor and is a great way to use tomatoes throughout the year, even with those otherwise tasteless hot house and import fruits.

i preheat the oven to 400 degrees. i like a hot oven. i like brown. i like caramelization. cut the tomatoes lengthwise (a lot of these were roma), and put them cut- side- up on a lipped baking sheet that has been drizzled with olive oil. DON’T take out the seeds and stuff! drizzle with more olive oil, salt, and herbs de provence, and roast until the pan is juicy and there are brown caramelized bits of yumminess in the pan. if you like, you can add some garlic when roasting, but i suggest leaving skins on until done.

put roasted tomato halves in a blender and add the liquid. add a couple ladles full of stock to the pan, and put it over a burner. scrape away all of those brown parts in the pan (you are ‘deglazing’) until they are incorporated into the stock. pour the liquid into the blender. it’s prudent at this point to allow the ingredients to cool before blending. in the least, make the plug at the top of the blender loose and cover with a cloth. hot liquid in a blender can potentially disfigure driver.

blend thoroughly, pour into soup pan, and add more stock until you have a slightly thick consistency. i don’t like it gloppy. add some evaporated milk, cream, or half and half if you like. to a half-sheet of tomatoes i added about three to four cups of stock, and about 1/2 cup of evaporated milk. salt and pepper to taste.

for the garnish, chop italian flat-leaf parsley with a clove of garlic and some salt (i used smoked salt). the salt keeps the garlic from sticking to your knife. chop until fine, but still has nice texture. add a couple of tablespoons of nice olive oil. garnish the soup with a dollop of the parsley concoction and some black lava salt for glamour. simple and yummy.

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this was kind of an accident, but it is soon to become a summertime habit. i had been decadently enjoying the fruits of other people’s labor, i put in my tomato plants on a fool’s schedule and am currently hoping that a third, yes, third, tomato might be viable by next week. in the meantime, friends have been taking pity on me and bestowing upon me the riches of their gardens in the form of blood-red heirloom varieties of… tomatoes.

i have to take a minute out to discuss something rather odd. i am not one to relish repeating myself, and looked up tomato in the thesaurus, imagining the comeback to include terms like “heartfruit” or “love pommes,” something! instead was an alternate list of synonyms for the words “dish” and “doll” with entries such as “angel,” “babe,” “cutie-pie,” “sex bunny,” “chick, “fox,” and “dreamboat.” WHAT? since when was a tomato a metonym — [yup, i looked that up too, how many times can you use the word synonym without seeming pretentious and repetitive] — for a sleazy whore? but i digress…

i have been keeping a bowl in the refrigerator consisting of peeled and chopped  tomatoes, sliced fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and olive oil. every day i eat out of it, and replace the love-pommes with new. what has evolved over the week is a subtle, mellowed garlic-y, salty yummy stew of tomatoes. i think peeling them is key and can be easily done by running the back of a knife blade over the skin, then peeling it away.

tonight i made a pile of angel hair pasta, threw it in my bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated reggiano [which i roughly grated with a serrated knife, easy and variable shapes and sizes which i like]. i didn’t toss it, i like things in layers, then on one side i dumped the tomatoes and about half of the accumulated juices [to taste]. it was a hot/cold, salty/sweet, cheesy/garlicky yummy treat. try it! it is a great alternative to a heavier marinara,  with all of the complex flavors. garnish with chopped basil if you want [but don’t add it to the tomato juice bowl, it’s flavors morph unfavorably] i will be doing it all next summer, too…

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