Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

20 August 2015

Improv Challenge: Tomatoes & Herbs

Ahhh, tomatoes and herbs for August's Improv Challenge. What could be more fitting? My garden tomatoes are coming right along and my herbs are prolific, to say the least. In creating this month's recipe I tried to keep it as simple as possible to let the tomatoes and herbs really shine through. (Also, I had a lot of tomatoes ripen all at once and Something Had To Be Done).

You will note my "recipe" provides no specific amounts for any of the ingredients. This is because it is all simply a matter of preference and pan size. I used a broiler pan which fit about eight diced plum and globe tomatoes. Lots of garlic and thyme, because I love them. A bit less oregano, because I find a little goes a long way.

I used Wave Hill Bread's caramelized garlic bread to make my toast as it has whole roasted garlic cloves baked right in and is just DELICIOUS. If you can't find something similar at your bakery, any crusty loaf will do.

Creamy Tomato Toast

Yield: Many servings


  • Garden tomatoes
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic cloves, pressed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sliced crusty loaf
  • Soft, spreadable goat cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Gently toss together the chopped tomatoes, fresh oregano, thyme, and pressed garlic in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast until the tomatoes are soft and oozy, about 2 hours.
  4. Remove pan from the oven. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. (If using later, warm before spreading on toast).
  5. Switch oven to broil.
  6. Brush bread slices with olive oil.
  7. Broil bread for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove bread from oven, spread each slice with goat cheese, top with tomato goo, and garnish with additional herbs.

If you plan to serve these as an appetizer, just use slices from a thin, narrow loaf like a ficelle. The Wave Hill loaf I used is suitable for sandwiches and I find two creamy tomato toasts served like an open-face sandwich with a small salad or bowl of soup makes for a thoroughly satisfying lunch ... although, to be fair, I've also just ripped chunks of bread off the loaf and used them to scoop the tomatoes up straight from the pan into my mouth. It's best with the cheese, but sometimes I can't wait for the sweet, herby tomatoes to get in my belly.

08 July 2015

Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

I made this simple corn salad for a coworker's picnic using leftover roasted corn and basil from my garden. Since there's nothing in this salad that requires refrigeration, I feel it's fine left out on the counter for a good while, but I understand food safety folks may not agree so ymmv.

My go-to roasted corn recipe is to place the ears, trimmed but still in their husks, straight onto the rack of a 400°F oven and cook them for about 20 minutes or until they look pretty brown and the kitchen smells like corn. (Time really depends on number and size of ears, so you do have to keep an eye on them).

As a time saver, you can find bags of frozen roasted corn at most grocery stores and thaw them for use in this salad. Also, I used garlic vinegar (because GARLIC), but you could probably use white wine vinegar with equally good results.

Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

Yield: 6


  • 3 cups roasted corn (about 4 ears)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz mini farfalle (tiny bow tie) noodles, cooked as directed for al dente
  • Generous palmful of basil, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp garlic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, gently tossing to coat well. Cover and let rest for about an hour or refrigerate until ready to serve.

While the little bit of leftovers was still pretty tasty the next day, I wouldn't recommend making this too far ahead because it simply tasted best the day of. If you are going to make this hours ahead, stir the basil in just before serving, because otherwise it wilt and lose its bright color.

21 May 2015

Improv Challenge: Cilantro & Lime

May's Improv Challenge features the cool refreshing flavors of cilantro and lime. Unfortunately, cilantro can be very hit or miss for me -- while I usually find it delicious, sometimes it can be oddly soapy-tasting. Therefore, I did not use a lot of cilantro in this recipe!

I used barramundi in this dish, which the man at the seafood counter recommended as a sweet, mild fish similar to sea bass. I like bass and was happy to try something new as we've been eating a lot of tilapia and tuna lately. He said to cook the barramundi at 400°F for ten minutes or until it was white and flaked easily with a fork, so that's exactly what I did.

Cilantro & Lime Baked Barramundi

Yield: 2


  • 2 6 oz frozen barramundi fillets, thawed
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pat fish dry. Place in a baking dish. Rub with 1 tsp olive oil.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl, and pour the mixture over the fish.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired (I forgot), and serve.

Overall, I was very pleased with this dish and will definitely be making it again (with garden tomatoes, hopefully). The fish, while sweet and mild, was not overwhelmed by the sweetness of the tomatoes or the tartness of the lime. And, happily, the cilantro was not in the least bit soapy-tasting, but added a welcome grassy/summery note. I know "grassy" sounds a bit off-putting, but it was a bright green flavor that made me think of grass or chlorophyll.

01 May 2015

Easy Italian Chicken, White Beans, & Tomatoes

I've been making this chicken and beans dish for a while now, but somehow I never managed to write it up. It's a rich, tomato-y dish that definitely warms up your insides. There's some sauce -- but not a lot as I cook everything without a lid so most of the juices render down -- and that's perfect for dunking crusty chunks of bread. I've been using cans of Cirio Cherry Tomatoes that I picked up at Big Lots on impulse, but I'm sure canned diced or crushed tomatoes will work fine when I run out.

Chicken Thighs With White Beans & Tomatoes

Yield: 4


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 14.5 oz can cherry tomatoes (pomodorini)
  • 2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan, as desired


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken thighs and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Remove thighs to a shallow bowl.
  2. Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent.
  3. Add chicken and any juices back to skillet along with the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken has reached 165°F. (Don't cover the chicken, because you want the liquid to cook down).
  4. Add beans to skillet and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

18 December 2014

Improv Challenge: Red & Green

I did think about making a red-and-green bundt cake for December's Improv Challenge but, aside from an egregious use of food coloring, I couldn't see what that could bring to the table. So I went savory and dye-free with this simple dish of chicken, tomatoes, and green olives! And capers! And fresh herbs! Which are also green!

Chicken Thighs In Tomato & Olive Sauce

Yield:4-8 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 06 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 06 hrs. 10 mins.


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • Additional fresh herbs for garnish


  1. Add the onions, tomatoes, olives, capers, and fresh herbs to the slow cooker insert.

  2. Nestle the chicken thighs into the tomato mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a few sprigs of thyme and oregano, if desired.

  3. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve garnished with additional herbs.

The tomatoes, onions, and chicken will make more than enough liquid so don't even think about adding broth to the pot! The chicken comes out very tender and the sauce is very flavorful, although it is a little runny so feel free to thicken it before serving.

05 June 2014

Plated: Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

When I selected Plated's "Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes," I was pretty sure I was taking a big risk at it simply isn't the kind of thing The Husband would ever consider eating. Indeed, when it came down to it, I completely chickened out on serving it to him and kept all the tomatoes to myself. He was happy in his ignorance and I was in heaven. Who knew mixing quinoa with goat cheese could make it so darn delicious?!

Ingredients straight out of the box
Unwrapped ingredients
Obviously, this dish would be better in a few months when tomatoes are in season, but roasting makes most vegetables taste better and these pale, refrigerated tomatoes were no exception. They turned out juicy and flavorful and I was quite pleased to not have to share them.

I did not think the instructions for preparing the quinoa were very good -- not enough time or liquid -- so I chose to make them The Kitchn way and with low-sodium fat-free chicken broth instead of water. Other than that, the instructions were fine and I didn't have any trouble preparing this "plate."

The salad dressing was surprisingly tasty. Creamy balsamic is never something I'd ever considered and the color was a little off-putting, put the flavor was good and I'd definitely make it again. The recipe made a little more than I needed and I'll probably use the extra on that head of butter lettuce I forgot to serve with the seared salmon.

Every bite was delicious!
I had two tomatoes for lunch the day I made them and then took the others to work over the following days, packing the tomatoes separately from the (undressed) salad so they could be reheated in the toaster oven. They reheated well and made an elegant meal there in the staff room amongst the snack machines and work safety posters.

So that's my first Plated box done with and I can't wait for my next!

28 December 2013

(Belated) Eating the Alphabet: G is for Green Beans & Garlic

I never posted during May's Eating the Alphabet Challenge as I never got around to photographing my dish of garlicky roasted green beans before we ate it and then there wasn't enough time to remake it and photograph the redo. Unfortunate, as it was pretty darn delicious. And it's not as if I haven't made it since ... just never get around to photographing it.

But I have now! Et voilà! The belated green beans:


Roasted Green Beans with Garlic & Thyme
Serves 4 as a side dish

12 oz green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small sprigs thyme, chopped
8 garlic cloves, halved if large
salt and pepper, as desired
Additional fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cover a jelly roll pan with parchment or foil.

Lay green beans, garlic, thyme on the jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Spread them out on the span so that they lay flat. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes.

Roasting Green Beans

Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve garnished with additional thyme.
The garlic gets all nutty and, mmm, is just marvelous with the fresh thyme and tender-crisp beans.

08 April 2013

Steak, Tomatoes, & Oven-Fried Potatoes

I was in the mood for steak and potatoes late last week and, happily, had a nice piece of organic grass fed steak in the freezer. I seared the steak in a very hot pan then popped it in a 400F° oven for 10 minutes. Came out perfect!

Steak, Tomatoes, & Potatoes

We ate the steak with sautéed cherry tomatoes and my mom's oven-fried potatoes. They're not really fried, but that's what she called them on the recipe card. They're really awesome potatoes and taste even better then next day with a runny egg.

Mom's Oven-Fried Potatoes

Yield: 4 generous servings


  • 6 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped into thumbnail-sized pieces
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Smoke paprika, as desired
  • Dried parsley, as desired


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush 13x9 baking dish with a little olive oil or spritz with baking spray.
  2. Put potatoes and onions in dish. Liberally season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Toss. Dot with butter. Cover and bake 50 minutes.
  3. Uncover and broil 10 minutes longer or until browned and a little crunchy on top.

If you want to use fewer potatoes, that's fine. Just remember the rule of thumb is one tablespoon butter per potato. Also, be very liberal with the seasonings. I'm fond of Bourbon Barrel Foods' Bourbon Smoked Paprika, but Penzeys Smoked Spanish Paprika is also pretty fine.

Mom's Oven Fries

15 March 2013

Eating the Alphabet: C is for Chayote

March's Eating the Alphabet Challenge was to use C and/or D ingredients. Last year, I used chickpeas in "Pasta With Chickpeas, Spinach, and Golden Raisins" so I planned on sticking with a "D" ingredient this time 'round. Maybe daikon radishes or dates. But then I espied chayotes at Shoprite and knew I had to give them a try.

Chayotes (also called "mirliton," "cho-cho," and "christophine") are adorable pear-shaped gourd-like fruits. Besides being totes adorabs, chayotes are also a great source of folate, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Raw chayote has a very crisp, dry texture -- a bit like biting into a slice of underripe pear. Flavor-wise, it's very cool and refreshing with a decided cucumber note. And, although technically a winter fruit, thanks to global commerce chayotes are available year-round.

Chayote & Friends
It's making a prune face at me ;)
Chayote & Friends
Just like that!
If you can't find chayotes, most recipe sites I visited suggest zucchini or summer squash as a substitution in a cooked dish, but I think the flavor and texture would be wrong in the raw dish I've made. I would recommend jicima as a substitute or, if you're planning on serving the salad immediately, a well drained salted and seeded cucumber would probably work alright.

The recipe I made, "Ensalada de Chayote, Elote, y Tomates" (Chayote, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette), comes from Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky's Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2006) and is a compilation of recipes from Dona Tomas restaurant near Berkeley, California. I borrowed the cookbook from my library along with The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook (splendid recipe for "Pulled Buffalo Sandwiches with Chayote Slaw") and Down-Island Caribbean Cookery (many delicious cooked chayote recipes).

While the recipe does not say to peel or seed the chayote (every part of the chayote fruit is edible), I chose to peel mine and remove the large flat pit as my chayote skins were a bit blemished and unsightly. Peeled, there were some rusty brown spots such as you might see on a peeled apple, and I just cut them away.

Peeled Chayote

Halved Chayote

As I planned on taking this salad to work with me over a few days, I did not dress the salad until I was ready to eat it. I stored the vegetable mixture in a large covered bowl and it kept quite well. Like jicama and unlike apples, chayote does not discolor when exposed to air. I stored the vinaigrette in a repurposed mini milk bottle.

Chayote Salad

While I really loved this salad, I didn't think that much of the vinaigrette and stopped using it after the second serving. Instead, I switched over to Newman's Own Lite Honey Mustard Dressing and Lite Lime Vinaigrette. The Lite Lime Vinaigrette was fantastic and made me wish I'd not wasted time (and ingredients) on the recipe's vinaigrette. The last day, I didn't have much of the salad left, so tossed it with some salmon and served it on a bed of chopped romaine and that, too, was fabulous.

Chayote Salad w/ Salmon & Romaine

So glad I tried a new fruit! Looking forward to making many other chayote recipes!

28 January 2013

Italian Homework: Pork Pizzaiola

I can't seem to close the book on my online cooking course. I've done everything I need to except submit the final assignment and, rather than do that, I keep going back and trying new recipes. Oh well, I have a year to complete the course ...

Anyway, the dilly-dallying has been worth it as I've made some really nice dishes, including this pork pizzaiola. I haven't cooked with pork very often, because I believed The Husband didn't eat the other white meat. Then, a few weeks ago, he mentioned it had been awhile since I cooked any meat that wasn't chicken or beef and the Truth of Pork was revealed. He doesn't eat ham or bacon, but everything else is (probably) fair game.

Pork Pizzaiola & Pasta

So I made this pork pizzaiola and, wow, it was good. The chops were tender and flavorful, the sauce rich and tomato-y. While it looks pretty fancy, it was super easy to make, didn't take a lot of prep, and cooked quickly. Indeed, it's actually something I could throw together on a weeknight!
Pork Pizzaiola
Serves 3

3 thick center cut boneless pork chops
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
6 large basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the chops from the refrigerator, unwrap, pat dry, and liberally season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes over medium; shaking the pan to keep the garlic moving. Add the chops to the pan and brown the chops on both sides. Lower heat to medium-low.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, parsley, and basil and continue to cook over medium-low heat until done (145 F° according to the USDA). Let rest for about five minutes. Serve with pasta.
So, yes, pork should definitely be on the menu more often. And lamb! And duck! And, wow, it's been a long time since we had a turkey ...

27 August 2012

Pasta & Tomatoes Two Ways

Also known as how-fast-can-supper-get-in-my-tummy?!

Pasta & Tomatoes

Thaw two fully-cooked chicken sausage, slice into coins, and set aside. Toss four cups cherry tomatoes with olive oil, four crushed garlic cloves, and salt-free Italian seasoning blend. Roast @ 400°F for about 30 min.

Slice two fully-cooked chicken sausage into thick coins. Add sausage to tomatoes and roast 15 min more. Toss with cooked egg noodles. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and season with freshly ground black pepper, as desired.

Pasta & Tomatoes

Core, seed, and dice five large tomatoes. Heat a small splash of olive oil in a skillet until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, minced red onion, pressed garlic, and salt-free Italian seasoning blend. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down and onion is translucent. Add one cup cubed cooked chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through. Season with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with cooked pasta.

25 August 2012

Presto! Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

When life gives you a bumper-crop tomatoes ... you darn well eat them, knowing you'll miss them dreadfully in January. This week, we've had tomato-bread salad, tomato soup, tomato pizza, tomatoes stuffed with eggs, and now tomatoes baked with salmon.

Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

All this lycopene better be doing brilliant things to my ramshackle body, I tell you what.

Anyway, this dish was dead easy to make and tasted really good -- the tomato juices and olive oil mingled with the herbs and salmon juices and it was just oh! a savory flavor explosion for the tastebuds.
Pesto-Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes, cored and diced
1 lb salmon fillet, boned and halved
2 Tbsp prepared pesto
freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme, minced
fresh oregano, minced

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Toss tomatoes with one tablespoon pesto, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

Spread salmon with remaining tablespoon of pesto. Place, skin-side up in a baking dish. Surround with tomatoes.

Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel off salmon skin.

Serve with pesto rice (toss hot rice with pesto) and steamed spinach.

24 August 2012

Too Many Tomatoes? Pizza!

I thought about making a tomato pie with garden herbs, corn, cheddar and pie crust, but then I realized I could just make pizza with the same ingredients for less time and effort.

Actually forgot to put corn on it!

I bought a ball of refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough at the grocery store, but all the other ingredients were on hand -- pesto, red onions, mozzarella, and cheddar were already in my fridge and tomatoes, thyme, and oregano came from my garden.

I preheated my oven, with the pizza stone in it, to 450°F. While the oven was doing its thing, I sliced the vegetables very thinly and chopped the herbs.

Feeling all smugly organized and shizzle, I set out to roll my dough ... not realizing I had no cornmeal and didn't know where my rolling pin was! Yes, I lost a rolling pin somewhere in my kitchen. I am truly blessed.

Happily, a water glass makes a handy rolling pin substitute and I rolled the dough out on a rectangular piece of parchment. This turned out to be The. Best. Idea. Ever. as I could just pick up the parchment, pizza and all, and slide it onto the hot stone. The paper browned while the pizza baked, but did not burn. Then I just slid the hot parchment paper/pizza off the stone onto a cutting board and let the pizza set for 5 minutes or so. Cut it into pieces and went omnomnom.

Pretty sure this pizza should have served four people with salad, but we skipped the salad and split it between the two of us and were happy. The Husband gave the pizza 10 ★s, but later downgraded it to 9½ ★s when I told him I'd used a whole wheat crust. Silly.

22 August 2012

Tomatoes Stuffed With Eggs (Really)

I'd been mulling over the idea of baking eggs in hollowed out tomatoes for a while now, but either didn't have big enough tomatoes (wall to wall cherries, man) or had the right tomatoes but no courage. Seriously, I couldn't decided if baked egg-filled tomatoes would be The Best Idea Ever or just a bit weird. In the end, I just decided to go for it. If the dish failed, there was always the burger shack down the road!

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

For this dish, I merged two recipes -- Martha Stewart's "Baked Eggs in Tomatoes" and Whole Living's recipe for "Baked Eggs in Whole Roasted Tomatoes." I liked Whole Living's idea to roast the tomatoes before filling them with whole eggs, but I also liked Stewart's use of corn and chives. And then I just had a moment and stuff happened in the kitchen and the eggs didn't turn out quite as I'd planned, but were still pretty darn delicious.

Cheesy Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbsp shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar (or whatever you like best)
4 large eggs
Smoked paprika, as desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a little bit off the bottom each tomato so they stand firm and don't wobble. Slice the top off the tomatoes, core, and use teaspoon to gently remove the flesh and seeds. Turn upside down and drain on paper towels for about 15 minutes.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

Place tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle insides of each tomato with thyme and garlic. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

Add a tablespoon each of corn and cheese to the bottom of each tomato. Carefully crack an egg into each tomato. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Dust with paprika. Bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 9 minutes more. Eat.
I really wasn't sure what The Husband would think of this dish, but he really liked it and said he would be happy to eat it again. I served it with pesto rice and the egg yolks and tomato juices ran all over the rice, creating the most delicious mixture.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

16 August 2012

Improv Challenge: Peppers & Tomatoes

I've always been intrigued by panzanella and, when I saw August's Improv Challenge was peppers and tomatoes, I knew it was time to try making one. I started looking for recipes and almost immediately came across Stewart's recipe for "Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Salad." It sounded pretty darn delicious and I had all the ingredients on hand so I set forth on the path to panzanella mastery.

The first time I made this salad, I halved the ingredients but otherwise followed Stewart's recipe exactly. The salad was surprisingly fabulous for something so simple -- all those beautiful garden tomato juices mingling with the oil and vinegar, soaking into the crunchy bread. Double yum with knobs on!

Then I started thinking about all the fresh herbs rioting in my garden and wondered if I could incorporate those into the salad. I started messing around with Stewart's recipe and ended up with what you see below -- a kind of faux Greek panzanella. It's fantastically good, combining all my favorite summer flavors in one bowl. I keep debating throwing a little goat cheese in, but I can't decide if that would increase the level of awesome or just gild the lily.


Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Bread Salad
Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

2 ounces day old baguette, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil [Lucero Arbequina]
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar [Katz Late Harvest Zinfandel AgroDolce Vinegar]
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
8 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 medium tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch wedges
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
Sea salt and ground pepper

Panzanella Ingredients

Preheat oven to 450°F degrees.

Toss bread with 1 teaspoon oil and spread across a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 7 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, and garlic. Add tomato, roasted pepper, thyme, oregano, olives, and toasted bread. Toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 large serving.

06 August 2012

Invasion of the Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato Time
Italian Ice, Red Lightning, Tye-Dye,
Honeybunch, Sun Gold, Heritage,
Pink Pounder, Orange Slice, Black Krim,
Big Rainbow, Brandywine, Burpee's Supersteak.

I planted them all.

What was I thinking? I know what I was thinking. It was winter and spring seemed a long time off and I, missing summer's fresh tomatoes, thought "I can't plant too many tomatoes." Well, yes, I can and clearly did, because I harvested just shy of 20 pounds of the delicious bastards this weekend. Cherry, small fruit, and big 'uns. Heirloom and not so.

Tomato Time

What am I going to do with all these tomatoes? Well, a whole lot have already been made into soup -- both the roasted cherry tomato soup I made last week and "Heirloom Tomato Soup" from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine. Some of the cherries will go into Martha Stewart's Baked Stuffed Red Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, & Thyme." As for the rest, I don't know. Tomato jam, maybe, or pie.

I used Italian Ice tomatoes in the roasted cherry soup so it came out paler and a little tarter than the one I made last week with the Sun Golds. A little bit of honey helped sweeten it, though, and I wasn't really concerned about the color while I was sucking mugs of it down.

Tomato Time

And we won't even talk about the enormous quantity of carrots I harvested ... monstrous carrots of unusual size. Help. Send raw vegans. Or vampire bunnies.

30 July 2012

Tomato Soup, I Love You

As was bound to happen when you go and plant thirty cherry and small fruit tomato plants, I have too many tomatoes. So many, that I've already given some away at work rather than see them go bad. Being selfish, I don't really want to keep doing that.

What to do? Make soup! I had bookmarked a lovely recipe from for "Roasted Tomato Soup" last winter when I was positively jonesing for soup every darn day. Obviously, cherry tomatoes weren't in season then but they certainly are now and the recipe is a great way to use up six cups of the precious darlings.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup
It glows with the glow of a thousand orange tomatoes ...

To healthify this soup, I omitted the butter and reduced the amount of cream by half. I also omitted the grilled cheese croutons and didn't miss them, because this soup is so veryvery delicious on its own. (I can usually take or leave tomato soup, but this stuff is addictive and I want to eat it constantly. Good thing the recipe makes a lot).

I used turkey broth, because I still have quite a lot leftover from last year's big buy, but chicken or vegetable broth would work just as well. I also used less broth than the original recipe called for, because I wanted a very thick soup.

Despite being pureed, this soup retains a lot of texture from the bazillion cherry tomato seeds. If you don't like seeds, I recommend straining the soup through a sieve before adding the cream. (I strained about two thirds of the soup, leaving a little bit of seeds and skin behind for body).
Creamy Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup
Adapted from

6 cups cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 springs fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium red onion, chopped
14 oz can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
14 oz can turkey broth
½ cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 400°F. Toss cherry tomatoes with 3 sprigs thyme, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a large jelly roll pan. Roast until tomatoes have shriveled and some have burst, about 40 minutes. Set aside.

Roasted Tomatoes

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic, onion and remaining sprigs of thyme and saute until onion is softened. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, turkey broth, and roasted tomatoes with their juices and bits of thyme. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove from heat. Puree tomato mixture with an immersion blender or what have you. Strain out seeds, if desired. Stir in cream and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 for lunch with leftovers.

24 July 2012

More Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken Goodness

I know summer is a time for pasta and potato salads, grilled chicken and burgers, but I seem to be out of sync with the season. Oh, we're eating lots of fresh seasonal produce (a whole lot of which is coming from my garden), but the grill's seeing no real action and I've only made pasta and potato salads once.

What's seeing a lot of use? Why, my slow cooker. Fill it with stuff in the morning and come home at five thirty to a supper that is ready to go straight into my belly. The house doesn't heat up from cooking and I don't have to stand outside at the grill, dodging horseflies and feeling irritable from the heat (or con The Husband into doing the same).

When I think about it, it seems a bit weird to be using my slow cooker so heavily this summer when I more-or-less ignored it all winter. Well, regardless of weirdness, I do love my slow cooker this summer!

Monday I modified the "Slow Cooker Creamy Mushroom Chicken" I made last week, because I had a bumper-crop of cherry tomatoes to eat up ("Sungold" are prolific little buggers, you know) and no fresh mushrooms.

Slow Cooker Tomato-Chicken Yum

Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Chicken with Squash

3 partially thawed boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
2 small yellow squash, halved and thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes (enough to fill the bottom of your slow cooker)
6 sliced garlic cloves
1 Tbsp Penzeys Italian Vinegar and Oil dressing mix
1 Tbsp Penzeys salt-free Tuscan Sunset Italian-style seasoning blend
10.5 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
6 oz Neufchâtel cheese, softened

Coat slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Place tomatoes and garlic on the bottom and top with chicken breasts.

Stir together soup, dressing mix, seasoning blend, and softened cheese. Pour over chicken.

Close lid and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred. Return to slow cooker and very thoroughly mix everything together. Serve over rice or pasta.

28 May 2012

Easy Sautéed Chicken & Cherry Tomatoes

I had some iffy looking tomatoes and scallions left in the fridge at the end of the week and wanted to use them before they went from iffy to inedible. Since I was feeling tired and impatient, I couldn't be bothered looking for a recipe and just hacked something together.


Of course, the dish turned out really well, so I've had to go back and think through what I did, writing down the recipe as best I can. I might actually have used a tablespoon of salt-free Italian seasoning blend, but that seems like too much. Also, my ¾ cup of white wine was more like a several glugs. Glugs, alas, is not a recognized or standardized form of measurement!
Sautéed Chicken with Tomatoes & Scallions

2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3 oz each)
sea salt and pepper, as desired
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
¾ cup whatever white wine you have open
4 scallions, chopped
2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend

Pound chicken breasts until they are a more uniform thickness. Generously season the breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the breasts and saute until beautifully brown and cooked through. Set aside in a shallow bowl (don't want to lose any chicken jucies).

Add tomatoes to hot skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until cherry tomatoes skins begin to char a little and burst. Add the wine and cook until liquid evaporates. Add the scallions and seasoning blend. Return any chicken juices to the pan. Serve over the chicken.
I served the chicken with garlicky green beans and a pasta packet. It was yummy.

10 December 2011

Tomato-tastic Presents!

For the third year in a row, Muir Glen sent me a limited edition Reserve kit. Besides the awesome little basket (which I look forward to using in my vegetable garden next summer), I received Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, No-Salt Added Diced Tomatoes, Reserve Harvest Sunset Organic Fire Roasted Red & Yellow Diced Tomatoes, Reserve Harvest Sunset Organic Red & Yellow Diced Tomatoes, and a recipe booklet.

2011 Limited Edition Reserve Tomatoes

I don't know how Muir Glen found me or why they send me free products, but I hope they never stop. Muir Glen is the only brand of canned tomatoes I use these days as they're organic, high-quality, and so very flavorful -- sweet and ripe-tasting, that taste as if they were just picked and processed yesterday.

If you've never ordered a Muir Glen Reserve kit before, I suggest you do so rightnowthisminute. $15 dollars gets you a beautiful basket of tomato goodness!

Legalese: I am not affiliated with Muir Glen Organics nor was I compensated for gushing over their Reserve kit. All opinions, such as they are, are my own.