Tag Archives: Tomato

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Guacamole Pasta Salad (still waiting for the avocado)

Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles.  Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking.  With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.

Dressing ingredients

Dressing ingredients

The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army.  Also, it tastes really yummy.  The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad).  The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.

Tomatoes ready for roasting

Tomatoes ready for roasting

This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo.  The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion.  The sweet tomatoes finish it off.  So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.

Hello cilantro

Hello cilantro

Guacamole Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing

juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)

1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne

3 shallots, chopped

2 tbls Dijon mustard

3 cups of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

16 oz rotini or penne pasta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*

3 ripe avocados

1/2 cup minced red onion

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

To Make:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Meanwhile, make the dressing.  In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard.  Blend until smooth.  With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This can be made a day or two in advance.

Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta.  Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.

To Serve:

Serve this salad cold or room temperature.  Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while.  The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving.  This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.

* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store.  To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated.  You can do this with in-season tomatoes too.  The flavor is extra delicious.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Are you swimming in vegetables yet?  If you belong to a CSA and/or make a hobby out of frequenting your local farmer’s market, I imagine you are feeling a little like we are.  Sometimes I fear that I won’t be able to use all my vegetables fast enough before the next batch arrives.  It certainly doesn’t help that I approach buying vegetables like I do buying shoes.  I know that I have a bunch of stuff at home that I should eat but I just can’t resist a ripe melon or a basket of technicolor cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini and Eggplant

Zucchini and Eggplant

That is where Ratatouille comes in.  This recipe is one of the best ways to use up all those veggies you have in the fridge (psst, you can even use the ones that are slightly past their peak of freshness).  The vegetables are cooked with olive oil, aromatic herbs, and a splash of vinegar and somehow, this transforms a dish that is mostly zucchini and eggplant into something that is silky, rich, and deeply satisfying.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

If you have lots of veggies, you can easily double this recipe (which is what I did) and make enough to feed an army.  It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely for leftover.

Tomatoes and Herbs

Tomatoes and Herbs

Ratatouille

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 lb zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large onion, sliced

1 small bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares (we threw some left over hot pepper in there too… feel free to do the same if you like a little heat)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 4-inch sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup basil

2 tbls red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Using a large skillet that has a cover, saute the eggplant and zucchini over high heat in 1/4 cup olive oil until just tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the eggplant and zucchini and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened.  Add in the bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until just tender, another 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the tomatoes, the garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let it ride for 5 minutes.  Add back in the previously cooked eggplant and zucchini.  This time, let it all cook over low heat until it’s really tender, about 20 minutes.  To finish, stir in the fresh basil and red wine vinegar.

To Serve:

Ratatouille makes a delicious main dish, a side dish, or light lunch.  It can be served warm or room temperature.  Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe

 

Sloppy Joes… the name brings back memories of cans of Manwich served on fluffy while hamburger buns.  It is comfort food at its finest.  We have been looking for a good sloppy joe recipe for a while now.  Having jumped off the processed food train a while back, Manwich was no longer on the table for us.  So in the name of research, we have made multiple batches of the slop, tweaking recipes this way and that.  Unfortuntately, none of them have measured up to what we were looking for.  Namely, beef that is flavorful, not to dry but not too saucy, and most importantly, more interesting than hamburger flavored ketchup. 

(starting in top left, going clockwise) The Ingredients, The Blender, The Veggies, and Sloppy Joe himself

 

This recipe has everything we have been looking for.  The sauce is complex, tomato-y with depth from Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and molasses, and rich with onions, garlic, and pepper.  Hot sauce adds a little spice, feel free to add more if you like it hot, or take it out entirely if you want a mild Joe.  So the next time you get a hankering for a reminder of childhood, ditch the can and try these Sloppy Joes instead. 

Sloppy Joes 

Recipe followed almost exactly from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

 1 1/2 tbls olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped 

1 celery rib, chopped 

1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 lb ground beef 

1 – 14 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes 

1/4 cup ketchup 

1 tbls molasses 

1 tbls cider vinegar 

1 tbls Worcestershire sauce 

1 tsp hot sauce 

To Make: 

Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper, and garlic.  Stir occasionally and cook until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Add in the ground beef, breaking up the large lumps with a wooden spoon and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, combine the can of tomatoes (with juice), ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a blender.  Puree until smooth. 

Add the tomato mixture to the ground beef mixture.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, leave it uncovered and let to cook until the thickened, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

To Serve: 

You can serve these on a bun, ala traditional Sloppy Joes.  Or, you can divert from tradition and serve the meat over hot buttermilk biscuits.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes

Greek Inspired Meatloaf with Tomato Jam

Meatloaf - Cooked and Ready to Serve

Greek Inspired Meatloaf with Tomato Jam

When the weather gets colder, it seems like classic comfort foods start to get a lot more attention in our kitchen.  I don’t think anyone could argue that meatloaf is about as classic as it gets.  The problem with meatloaf though, is that I really didn’t like it much when I was growing up.  I never had a hankering for meatloaf, never ordered it in diners, and I never really got excited when someone cooked it for me.  My biggest problem with meatloaf was that all too often it was a dry hunk of rather tasteless beef topped with a sickly sweet ketchup sauce.  Did I mention that I don’t really care much for mass-produced ketchup either? 

Then I met my husband, a bone fide meatloaf lover.  He likes to get creative with meatloaf and suddenly I found myself *gasp* enjoying the creations he concocted.  Meatloaf with pepperoni and bacon, meatloaf with a cheesy layer in the middle, meatloaf with lots of spices and nary a spoonful of ketchup in sight.  His meatloaf is never dry; his secret ingredient is evaporated milk.  It sounds strange but it keeps the meatloaf moist without making it soupy. 

Half the Meatloaf in the pan with the Feta Cheese Layer

Meat and feta cheese layer

We developed this meatloaf because we were looking to recreate a delicious moussaka we made earlier in the summer.  The spice combination was very tasty and we felt that it would translate well to a meatloaf.  We made this with ground beef but if there had been any ground lamb in the house, we definitely would have included it as well.  Combine the ground beef with moussaka spices, a layer of feta cheese, and top with a spiced tomato jam and you have a meatloaf that even I can get behind.

Meatloaf ready for the oven topped with Tomato Jam

Meatloaf ready to bake

Greek Inspired Meatloaf

Ingredients:

About 1 lb ground beef or a mix of ground beef and ground lamb

1 small red onion, finely chopped

4 oz evaporated goat’s milk (you can substitute regular evaporated milk if desired)

1 egg

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon dried mint

salt and pepper to taste

 1/2 cup bread crumbs

4 oz feta cheese – crumbled

1 recipe Tomato Jam (see below)

To Make:

Preheat your oven to 375F.  In a medium bowl combine the red onion, egg, evaporated goats milk, and the tomato paste.  Use your wicked (awesome) whisk to mix.  Add in the spices and bread crumbs and whisk to combine.  Add the ground meat and mix by hand until just integrated.    Be gentle and don’t overmix or the loaf will be tough.  Form the ground beef into a ball and divide in half.  Using a meatloaf pan (a basic loaf pan with a false bottom) or a loaf pan, layer half the meat and sprinkle with the feta cheese.

Top with the remaining meat and spread the tomato jam on the top. Bake the loaf in oven for 50 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads between 155F and 170F.  The loaf should rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

To Serve:

This meatloaf serves four people.

Tomato Jam

Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times

Ingredients:

About 1 lb of fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped

1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar (we used 2/3 cup and it was pretty sweet, use less sugar for a less sweet jam)

Juice of half a lemon

2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

Rounded 1/2 tsp cumin

Rounded 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

To Make:

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan set over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has the consistency of thick jam.  About 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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Filed under Meat, Recipes