Tag Archives: seasonal summer

New Favorite Nosh: Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich!

19 Aug

This is barely a recipe, but it’s what I have been eating for breakfast and lunch (and sometimes in between with a cup of tea).

 

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread....

I like it with rye toast (shown here), but it reaches its apex with white bread….

Toast and butter two slices of bread. Layer thinly-sliced cucumber (peeling is optional) and tomato – preferably fresh from the garden – on the bottom slice. Sprinkle with salt and top with the second slice. Cut in half and eat!

 

 

Georgia Kalamidas’ Purslane Salad (Another weed made useful!)

12 Aug

We were a bit bemused to find this thick-leaved rubbery-stemmed plant called purslane (Portulaca oleracea) in our pick-up and completely unsure of how to use it. It seemed to be the exception to the CSA rule of thumb: “When in doubt, saute in garlic and oil.” What to do?

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Purslane is a succulent. those fat leaves hold water during drought.

Fortunately, our Restoration Farm grower Caroline Fanning provided a recipe from someone I think is another another member, Georgia Kalamidas (duly credited here) and the Internet provided more info on what this thing is. Apparently, some folks think it is a beautiful edible ornamental. Others think it is a weedy, resilient pain the gardener’s ass.

University of Illinois Extenson educator, Sandra Mason in a very funny and informative piece called “Purslane: Weed it or Eat it?”  discusses the relative merits of purslane in the garden. For example: “Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil. You may find that fact either depressing or exciting.”

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

Use it or lose it. One day after pick-up this needed using

The edible nature of this useful weed is another story. In young plants you can use the stem. My pick-up partners, Lori and John, and I tasted the stems and were not impressed. So we removed the leaves (it takes a while, so factor in time for that), rinsed thoroughly (purslane generally grows close to the ground) and followed Georgia’s recipe. The purslane is a bit like watercress without the nuttiness, and a bit like parsley but milder. In fact, you could substitute either in this salad, which was absolutely refreshing and delicious, with a lot of brightness and crunch. And by the way, you can apparently saute it in garlic (the rule stands!), and also in soups, but don’t cook it too long or it will become mucilaginous (slimy, like okra). Also, next time I might substitute oregano for the mint and add feta. Click for basic recipe! Continue reading

20 Summer Tomato Recipes and Techniques (including rescuing and freezing!)

31 Jul

Here it is finally, a round-up of recipes for using summer tomatoes, including rescuing tomatoes past their prime and processing for freezing (without the trouble of canning!). Bookmark this one….

1. The Easiest of All: Chopped Tomato Sauce

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

Light and beautiful, any kind of tomatoes will do, as long as they are garden fresh!

2. Speedy Bruschetta (great for using up tomatoes past their prime salad days)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

A lovely way to start a meal (or grate some cheese over and call it a movie snack)

3. Pan-Roasted Cherry, Grape or Sungold Tomatoes (Oil-Free options and another way to use up those minis gone soft)

4. Grilled Cherry Tomato Salad or Burger Topper

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor.

This recipe has terrible photos so I am not using them here, but great flavor. Try it!

5. Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

Bung these in the oven while roasting other veggies!

6. Spanish-style Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes!

Stuffed Tomatoes!

7. Provencal Vegetable Tian (baked layered summer veggies with olives)

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

Assembly is easy on this vegetable tian

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone...but you get the idea.

By the time it came out of the oven, my natural light was gone…but you get the idea.

 

8. Marinated Mini-Mozzarella Balls

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

Perfect for a summer BBQ or buffet (and big savings over the pre-marinated from the Italian deli

 9. Classic Criollo Tomato and Avocado Salad

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

The go-to side for spicy, salty, strong-flavored creole cooking

 10. Cannellini and Tomato Salad (no cook)

Add crusty bread and you've got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

Add crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a no-cook hearty cool meal!

11. Pan-Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (fat-free)

Pretty all the way from start to finish

Pretty all the way from start to finish

2012-08-26 04.56.47 tomato tomatillo

12. Oven Charred Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa

Oven Charred...Yum

Oven Charred…Yum

Next page: Bisque; Watermelon Feta and Tomato Salad, AND several ways to preserve tomatoes by freezing!

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Cilantro & Parsley Pesto Variations With Queso Fresco and Without Nuts

26 Jun

We’re moving on up! I was invited to do a cooking demonstration recently at The Old Country Road School, a K-5 school in the Hicksville Union Free Public School District. The school was celebrating its successful garden project, now in its third year! It being a school, I figured it would be a hoot to let my then-five-, now-six-year-old show everyone to make one of his favorite sauces – hand-ground basil pesto! I mean, if a five-year-old can do it, why can’t everyone?

Proud, Proud Mama!

Proud, Proud Mama! Photo: Kara Gallagher

He was a star, waving the garlic around, handing out basil for the kids and their parents to feel and smell, and smashing the pesto into a paste with great gusto. He wasn’t a bit nervous, but I think there are a few Food Network stars who should be…Come to think of it, maybe I should be nervous too?

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

This pesto holds its bright green-ness much better than basil pesto!

Continue reading

Stuffed and Roasted Patty Pan Squash (Yes, you can eat the rind!)

6 Sep

Yes! Those adorable yellow Madeleine berets next to the zucchini and yellow squash are edible! You can even eat the rind!

I really need a steamer. And after this little experiment, I also need a new strainer. it went kaput!

Pattypan squash is the single most searched for recipe on this blog, so I know many readers are out there trying to figure out whatever to do with them. I was equally mystified when we first started getting them at our weekly CSA pick-up. But a little experimenting later, now I know they are loads of fun.

Continue reading

Pan-Roast Your Way to Flavorful Fat-Free Tomatillo Salsa

2 Sep

Wanna get roasty flavor from your tomatillos and tomatoes without added oil or turning on the oven? Try pan-roasting, an old Mexican technique that I learned about from Reed Hearon’s La Parrilla: The Mexican Grill (Chronicle Books 1996).

Pretty all the way from start to finish

According to Hearon, Pan-roasting dates back to the times when Mexicans didn’t have enough natural fats available to fry or sauté. It is pretty easy and gives an added depth to those bursting-with-freshness summer flavors. Just cook whole vegetables at a low temperature till they brown thoroughly and Bob’s Your Uncle! Continue reading

Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

2 Aug

I am just back from a speaking engagement in Puerto Rico, where I had the chance to visit with great friends and have some delicious meals! But…you’ll have to wait for that, as it deserves a juicier post than I have time for (secrets of Kendra’s delicious grilled lamb coming soon to this blog!).

Watermelon and Feta go so well together and so well with tomatoes!

However, rather than leave you high and dry, here is a bright new salad to entertain you. It takes minutes to prepare, and — if Dr. Oz is to be believed — the combination of watermelon and a bit of balsamic is a powerful enzyme that will aid in digestion and perhaps weight loss.

So here it is:  a fast and refreshing salad that use seasonal fruits and vegetables at their peak. And it’s pretty gorgeous too!

Serving suggestion: Mexican-style margarita glasses!

Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Dressing

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp balsamic vinegar

Pinch salt

Grating of pepper

Salad

20-30 grape tomatoes, sliced in half (about one Cup)

1 Cup watermelon, cubed to match the size of the tomato halves (seeded if necessary)

1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

½ Cup crumbled feta

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.

In a larger bowl, place watermelon, tomato, feta and mint. Pour dressing over. Stir in mint. Combine all gently and serve.

Golden Tomato Pasta Sauce (freezeable! or make from frozen tomatoes…)

30 Jul

“Tis the season for the tomatoes to overwhelm. In fact, last year we were so overwhelmed that I had tomatoes in the freezer all winter. The texture isn’t as good as in the middle of summer, but the incomparable bright, fresh flavor is still there.

Yes, these icebergs are actually frozen golden tomatoes (yellow seems a bit more prosaic here). The freezer burn was minimal and the flavor was great!

So this is a terrific simple sauce that you can make from frozen or fresh. Instructions for blanching appear at the end!

Golden Tomato Sauce

Golden Tomato Pasta Sauce

¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Cup shallots, chopped

¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes

1 Tbs oregano (less if oregano is not your favorite; this is a pretty generous amount)

Pinch sugar

5 lbs golden tomatoes, cored, blanched and peeled*

10-20 basil leaves, chopped

Heat olive oil at medium-high in a heavy-bottomed soup pot until liquid and fragrant. Add shallots, stir to coat and lower heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are soft and translucent. Stir in hot red pepper flakes, oregano and pinch sugar and cook one minute. Add tomatoes, bring to boil then lower to a lazy simmer and cook for an hour or until fat begins to separate from tomatoes and you have reaced desired consistency. Add basil leaves and cook for an additional five minutes. Serve over pasta, as pizza sauce or on bruschetta, or freeze in quart containers for another day.

*To blanch and peel tomatoes, set a big pot of water to boil. In the meantime, core the tomatoes and fill a big bowl with ice water. When the water is boiling, drop tomatoes in so they fit comfortably. They blanch in under a minute, generally. As soon as you see the peel start separating from the flesh, pull them out and drop into the ice water. You can leave the peel on if you are going to freeze them (in gallon freezer bags is fine) or peel once they have cooled to use immediately.

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