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Posts Tagged ‘Tomatoes’

So Summer is obviously on its way out.  I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy the last several weeks of warm weather.  Me?  I’ve been trying to cram as many activities in as possible.  We traveled a bit (back home to western North Dakota, again), went to the lakes several times, and did our best to eat the local parlors out of ice cream.  And, my little boy started pre-school (deep breathe…).   I confess, I was not particularly looking forward to this.  But I survived.  He survived.  I’m happy to see him grow and experience new things, yet sad to watch time slip through my fingers.   And I know this is just the first of many partings.  Cherish every day.

With Fall rushing in, I raced to the Farmers’ Market to snatch up as many tomatoes as I could.  I’ve spent the week canning whole tomatoes, salsa, sauce, and tomato jam (more on this unbelievable find soon).  Then there’s this fantastic use: homemade tomato ketchup.  If you have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, or you can get to the local markets to buy a bushel or two, you’ve got to give this a try.  I made it for the first time this year, and am kicking myself for not having done so sooner.

First though, you need to know this tastes NOTHING like the mass-market store brands you’re used to.  Full disclosure:  I like Organic Heinz.  I even like regular Heinz.  They’re pretty good, and they have basically defined the flavor of ‘ketchup’ for everybody (sorry Hunt’s).  I’d describe this as a thick, red, salty-sweet vinegar concoction.  Simply put, there isn’t much complexity — no herbs, little actual tomato flavor.  This homemade ketchup is very different.  At first I had a difficult time wrapping my brain around it– I was wired to expect ‘ketchup’, and by that I mean Heinz.  But this homemade version has fennel, ginger, garlic, basil, and tomatoes– lots of tomatoes.   The layers of flavor are amazing– not just salt/sweet/vinegar.  They’re fresh, interesting, and work together so well.  Yes, it tops a burger nicely, but it really shines on a roast beef sandwich or with those homemade fries.  And don’t forget to pair it with my homemade mustard recipes.  Give them both a try.

The Recipe:  Homemade Tomato Ketchup

(Makes about 1 pint)

1 large red onion, peeled and chopped

1/2 bulb of fennel, trimmed and chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, and stalks chopped

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

sea salt

1 pound  cherry or plum tomatoes, halved,  plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped  OR  2 pounds yellow,  orange, or green tomatoes, chopped

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar  (Note: the next time I make this, I’m going to use a bit less.  I would suggest decreasing by 1-2 tablespoons.  Taste and adjust, though remember — the flavors really  take time to develop in this particular recipe.)

Put all of the vegetables into a large, heavy bottomed, saucepan with the olive oil, ginger, chili pepper, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves.  Season with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper.

Cook gently over a low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Stirring frequently.  Add the canned tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.

Add the basil leaves, and blend with an immersion blender or food processor.  Push it through a sieve to make it smooth.  Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar.  Place the sauce on a medium-low heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to  your desired consistency.  Correct the seasonings at this point.

Spoon into sterilized bottles or jars, then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the refrigerator.  It should keep for about 6 months.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home cookbook

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Take Care.

Laurie

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Borscht

While growing up, I recall my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles always talking about how much they loved Borscht.  As a child, I had to disagree.  They couldn’t be talking about that deep-red vegetable soup that I sat at the table and stared at, hoping it would somehow disappear so I could go play, could they?  I’d like to believe I wasn’t too keen on Borscht because of the not-so-wonderful sounding name, though no doubt my palatte has simply changed.  I get what my family was talking about.  Now I make this soup all of the time.  Take one look at that beautiful color, and then a spoonful of those lovely vegetables and comforting broth, and you’ll see why.

Beets– probably the most vibrant vegetable around.  I love their slightly-sweet flavor, and eat them both roasted and raw.  They are the foundation of this soup, along with a nice selection of other fresh vegetables.  I like to add as wide a variety of vegetables as possible– in particular root vegetables– but if you don’t have exactly what I used, don’t worry.  Like any good soup, this one is forgiving and you should be able to find a substitute.  I used fresh tomatoes because I had them on hand.  I also used the last of my homemade tomato juice.  When I don’t have fresh tomatoes in winter, I rely on my homemade crushed canned tomatoes– about 2 cups.  If you use canned crushed tomatoes, be sure to make the appropriate adjustments to the amount of liquid you add.  In other words, you may not need as much water.

Speaking of the broth, this is generally the only soup that I make using just water.  In this soup the ingredients are so numerous and fresh that they provide that additional flavor that you generally get from vegetable broth.  If you want a little more taste, you can add a ham shank or ham juice– like my Mother does.  Both wonderful additions.  The two ingredients where you won’t want to vary from the recipe are the fresh dill and addition of vinegar.  Both are keys to making this soup complete.  So how do you add fresh dill in early January when you want to linger over a bowl of Borscht?  Thankfully, dill freezes very well.  Stick it in a freezer storage bag and it’ll last for months.

So why am I writing about a warm soup in late August?  Good question.  The last two weeks have seen crisp air at night here in Minnesota.  I bought apples at the farmers’ market this weekend.  And right now my house smells of cinnamon, as my husband is bottling a batch of his home-brewed Autumn Spice Ale.  It has seemed like an unusually short summer– and though it going to be hard to let it go, I think I’m getting ready for Fall.  This soup was a test and I think it feels right.

The Recipe:  Borscht

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tomatoes, diced

4 beets, peeled and diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

3 parsnips, peeled and diced

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 onion, chopped

1/2 head small cabbage, chopped

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons white vinegar

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4  teaspoon cracked black pepper

6 cups water

1 cup tomato juice

In a large heavy-bottomed kettle, such as a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the onion, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnip, and tomatoes along with the kosher salt and black pepper.  Saute until the vegetables start to soften, 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the cabbage and allow to wilt a bit, another 3-4 minutes.  Add the water, tomato juice, bay leaf and vinegar.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, 30-45 minutes, depending upon how high the heat is.  Stir in the fresh dill.  Make seasoning adjustments if necessary.   Serve with a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy!

Thanks again for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great day.

Laurie

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Just in case I haven’t been clear, I LOVE the colorful array vegetables available this time of season.  For today’s recipe, I put together one of my favorite beautiful, delicious salads.  Panzanella is an Italian salad that usually consists of soaked stale bread and tomatoes.   My version includes a greater variety of ingredients, and a little more crunch from the bread.  Now a purist may say that it isn’t panzanella, but when it tastes this good, why quibble over the name?  Panzanella it is, and it’s marvelous.

This was the first week that I finally found red peppers at the farmers’ market.  My kids and I love them as a snack.  Here I used mini sweet multi-colored peppers.  Cute and tasty!  Since fresh cucumbers and red onions are plentiful now, I added those as well.  For the cheese, I used (surprise!) ricotta salata.  Yes, it’s my go-to addition, but the creamy texture and saltiness work perfectly in so many dishes.  It seems I’m always poking around for another piece of it with every bite.   The ricotta salata also makes this salad a bit more substantial– we ate it as a light meal rather than a starter.

Of course the star of the salad is the crusty bread and red wine vinaigrette.  I like to tear my bread rather than cut it– more dressing seems to get into the crevices.   I could eat the bread and dressing alone, which I guess that’s the point of the salad— it’s nice to get some healthy vegetables in there, too.  When assembling the salad try to keep most of the vegetables relatively the same size.  I love this combination of flavors– it’s one of my favorite things to eat during the summer.  It makes a nice, light meal that I find myself eating pretty much every day for lunch.

The Recipe:  Panzanella

(The measurements are vague — make as big of a salad as you want.  You will have plenty of dressing.)

2 large cucumbers, chopped

2 cups mini multi-colored peppers, chopped  (or 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped)

6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 mini – red onions, thinly sliced  (or 1 small red onion)

handful of fresh garden lettuce, torn

12-15 basil leaves, whole

1/3 cup cubed ricotta salata cheese  (feta can be substituted)

1 baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped  (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

To Toast the Bread:  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss the torn bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil,  1 teaspoon fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  Put onto a baking sheet and bake until the bread chunks are golden brown and have a nice crunch to them — about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To Make the Vinaigrette:  In a medium-sized bowl, mix the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and mustard.  Using a whisk, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil, whisking all the while.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To Assemble the Salad:  In a large salad bowl, add the garden lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, red onion, basil, and toasted bread.  Pour some of the dressing onto the salad.  Toss.  Let sit for a few minutes before eating so the dressing has a chance to soak into the bread a bit.  Add more dressing, salt, and pepper, if necessary.  Enjoy!

I hope you are enjoying your summer produce as much as we are.  This is a beautiful time of year!  Have a great weekend.  Take Care.

Laurie

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho.  Cold soup.  Not much of a selling point is it?  But for those of you who have had gazpacho, you know just how refreshing it is.  Gazpacho is a Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup.  It originated in the sunny southern region of Andalusia as a fresh, cool meal to combat the summer heat.  There are many different versions, though this one is my favorite.  For those of you who are hesitant to eat a cool soup, I can only say this: give it a try– I guarantee you’ll make this one every summer as the temperatures get above 90 degrees.  It’s one of the most refreshing dishes you’ll ever taste.

The soup is a combination of the all the wonderful usual suspects from your late-summer garden or farmers’ market– cucumbers, red peppers, purple onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes.  They’re finely chopped in a food processor and then combined with tomato juice,  a bit of white wine vinegar, and a really good olive oil.   For gazpacho, you’ll definitely want to go with the best olive oil you have as it’s flavor is central to the soup.  I also used my homemade, canned tomato juice, though as my stock is running low (canning tomatos will be available soon!) I can’t lend you an extra jar.  If you can juice, use it as you’ll notice the difference in the final flavors.  As an alternative, several grocery stores carry high-end juices which should work well.  If you instead use a nation-wide brand, use Sacramento.  I personally think it tastes better than any of the other well-known brands.

Gazpacho is the perfect make-ahead dish.  It tastes better the longer it sits– the flavors have a chance to meld together.  I like to make some homemade croutons to top it all off with.  Hope you enjoy!

The Recipe:  Gazpacho

2 medium-sized garden cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled

2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

5-6 Roma tomatoes

1 red onion

3 large garlic cloves

3 cups good quality tomato juice

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

scant 1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for a little heat, if desired

For the Croutons:

2 – 3 cups crusty bread, such as a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss cubed bread pieces with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they have reached your desired crunchiness.

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into small pieces, roughly a 1-inch cube.  Put each vegetable into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, separately.  This is important for texture.  Pulse until it is coarsely chopped.  Make sure not to over-process.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and chill before serving.  The longer it sits, the better it will be.  Before serving top each bowl of soup with a handful of homemade croutons and some torn basil, if desired.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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Minneapolis/St. Paul was buzzing this weekend.  There were so many things going on!  On Saturday alone, the Twins won, U2 played an amazing outdoor set in the driving rain, the summer Aquatennial festival wrapped up with fireworks, and one of our favorite bands– local blue-grass boys Trampled By Turtles– put on a fantastic concert.  While Radd and I only had time to catch the last of those events, we had a great night.  My brother and sister-in-law took in both the baseball game and the U2 show, and said both had this incredible vibe.  What a great weekend!  It makes me so happy to live here.

How does this relate to food?  No clue, but I’ll do my best to tie them together.  Summer is a busy time and often you need quick, healthy meals that you can simply pull from the fridge–or ones that you can make at the beginning of the week and eat over several meals.  For that, I offer you this filling, fabulous salad.  Quinoa (KEEN-wa) is one of my favorite grains.  It’s quick, easy and sooo healthy.  Chickpeas are a nice compliment, as they’re full of protein, healthy, and don’t leave you hungry.  There’s real heft to this salad– you’ll know you’re eating something substantial.  I used black quinoa in this version, but you can use whichever kind you have.  As for the recipe, think of it more as a list of suggestions– play around a bit to find the mix that you like best.  Add ingredients that are your favorites, or that you simply have on hand.  Fresh cucumbers come to mind.  Also, while I love mixing fresh garden lettuces into the salad, if I know I’m going to have leftovers I don’t mix them into the whole batch.  The lettuce tends to wilt.  Instead, add it to the other ingredients just prior to serving.     Hope you enjoy– let me know what wonderful combinations you come up with!

The Recipe:  Summer Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

1 cup black quinoa, rinsed

1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, halved

1/3 cup ricotta salata cheese, cubed

Fresh garden greens, torn

Fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, mint, or thyme

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1/2 cup (or more to taste) of extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

sprinkle of sugar, if desired

To make the chickpeas:  Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with water.   Bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Cover with lid.  Leave the chickpeas in the pan of water, covered for 2 hours.  After that, check for tenderness.  Cook a bit longer if needed.  Drain and sprinkle with a tiny bit of kosher salt.   Allow to cool.  (Note:  Feel free to make more than needed for the recipe and keep extras in the freezer.  They are a wonderful addition to many salads, or like my two year old daughter– you can just eat them for a snack.)

To make the quinoa:  Rinse quinoa and place in a medium saucepan.  Add 1 – 3/4 cup water to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer.  When most, but not all of the water is absorbed, remove from heat and cover.  Forget about it for a for about 10-15 minutes.   All of the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should easily fluff with a fork.  Cool.

To make the Vinaigrette:  Add all of the ingredients in a bowl except the olive oil.   Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

To assemble the salad:  Place chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, herbs, and torn lettuce into a bowl.  Pour most of the dressing over the salad (I usually reserve some because I dislike a salad that contains too much dressing — more can be added, but never taken away).  Gently fold the  ingredients together.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today — see you soon!

Laurie

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