Preserving Summer: Roasted Tomatoes

It seems we wait all year for just the right time to pluck those ruby red and yellow globes from our gardens or farm stands, and then all too soon they are gone.  Goodness knows we don’t want to then depend on the grocery store for a new supply, because we are all about seasonal produce.  Do you really need a flavorless tomato in January from Chile? Methinks no.

So in the interest of preserving the fullest flavors possible from this great source of lycopene and vitamin C, I have immersed myself in the kitchen canning and roasting tomatoes for sauces and stews in the months ahead.  It’s also therapeutic and economical.

This is the first of a three-part series on prepping tomatoes for future use, and recipes to enjoy today. Its not too late to grab the last of San Marzanos, Romas or plum tomatoes from the farmers’ markets.  And they’re at a great price now. YUM.

Roasting Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 300. Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds.  Put in bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss with sea salt, garlic powder and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Be careful not to overdo the salt, as they become pretty concentrated when roasted.

Place cut-side up on cookie sheet or roasting pan lined with parchment.  Bake for two hours or until tomatoes are about half their original size.  You might want to check on them after 60 minutes to make sure the outer ones don’t burn.

Once cooled, you can either store them in the refrigerator in oil, or vacuum seal them and stash in the freezer.  When ready to use, add fresh garlic and herbs, and whatever meat source you desire.

Next up: late summer dishes using…uh, tomatoes!


Cranberry Beans and Garlicky Kale

Cranberry beans are gorgeous for their color alone, but they also have a wonderful texture which is somewhat creamy beneath a hearty skin.  And they’re fresh right now at your local farmers’ markets. Steve Sando pairs them with my favorite green – kale- another super food, loaded with calcium and anti-oxidants from vitamins A and C.  Serve this as an appetizer or light lunch with soup or salad.

3 TB extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C chopped white or yellow onion

3 garlic cloves

1/8 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2 C cooked cranberry beans

2 bunches kale, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped

1/2-inch-thick slices crusty artisan bread

Grated pecorino romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

In large, heavy skillet over medium heat, warm 1 TB of olive oil.  Add onion, one garlic clove and rosemary. Saute until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Put sauteed vegetables and beans in food processor and blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Put the bean puree in a small skillet and warm over low heat.  You will have about 2 cups.

In same skillet you used for onions, etc. warm the remaining 2 TB olive oil over medium heat.  Add remaining garlic and saute for about 10 minutes.  Do not allow the garlic to brown.  Add kale and stir until it begins to wilt.  Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender – about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Brush bread slices with olive oil.  Arrange on baking sheet and toast in oven until crisp, about 7 minutes.  Spread bean mixture over toasted bread and top with kale. Sprinkle with cheese and serve on a platter.

Serves 4-6

Recipe borrowed from “Heirloom Beans”

Mediterranean Frittata

We have some major construction going on at my house, so I offered the workers a homemade lunch in lieu of their usual fare (picture a bag with golden arches…you know the rest.)  I had no idea what I would whip up on such short notice, but then all I had to do was rely on my recent trip to the farmers market for inspiration.  I collected farm-fresh eggs, roasted tomatoes, Swiss chard, goat cheese and parsley for one of my favorite ‘kitchen sink’ recipes: the frittata.  You always know it’s a hit when they ask for seconds, or in this case – thirds.  And it’s incredibly easy.  Serve for lunch or dinner with a garden salad and heaven awaits.

MEDITERRANEAN FRITTATA

9 free-range eggs
1/3 C organic low fat milk
1 med. onion
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil
1 C spinach, chard or kale
1 C roasted or sun-dried tomatoes (drain excess liquid)
2 TB chopped parsley
1/4 C chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 C  feta or goat cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 TB flax seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat eggs with milk and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Chop all veggies.

Sauté olive oil with onion and garlic for about 1-2 minutes, but don’t brown.  Add all veggies and cook over medium for about 4 minutes.  Add Italian seasoning.

Prepare ceramic baking dish (pie shape or oblong) by spraying with oil and coating with freshly ground flax seeds.

Add veggies to egg mixture, along with cheese. Pour into prepared dish and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until center is set. For additional browning, broil for 3 minutes until golden.

Chicken Apple Curry

Here’s a tasty, seasonal dish which is light on the waistline but heavy on flavor.

Chicken-Apple Curry
Serves 4-6

4 cups cooked cubed free-range chicken (turkey or pork can also be used)
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped organic raisins or currants
1/2 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced, unpeeled organic apples
1/4 cup organic butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. Sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1 1/2 cups free-range chicken broth
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Spring onions, diced, for garnish

Method:
1.    Heat butter in skillet, add onions and cook until transparent.
2.    Add apples and raisins; sauté 5 minutes.
3.    Add celery and cook 2 more minutes.
4.    Combine seasoning and flour and blend in.
5.    Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and stir until thickened.
6.    Simmer 2-3 minutes stirring all the time.
7.    Fold in chicken, mix well.
8.    Garnish with spring onions.
9.    Serve on a bed of brown rice with apple chutney and fresh cucumber salad.

Blender Salmon Souffle

Salmon Blender Soufflé
~ Serves 4

A great and easy way to incorporate salmon without breaking the bank!  If you use flax seed to dust the dish, you’ll get a double dose of Omega 3s.

8 ounces smoked salmon or 7.5 oz. can wild salmon
6 free-range eggs
12 oz. organic cottage cheese
2 TB lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ C chopped red onion
¼ C fresh dill
Butter
Bread crumbs or ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and dust 1 quart soufflé dish or 4 (8-ounce) ramekins. Coarsely chop smoked salmon and put aside, or if using canned salmon, thoroughly drain the salmon. In a bowl, clean bones and skin from salmon. Break it into fine pieces with a fork. Set aside. Place all remaining ingredients in a blender container. Cover and blend at medium speed for about 30 seconds. Blend at high speed for another 10 to15 seconds. Stir the egg mixture into the bowl with the salmon. Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins including an equal amount of salmon pieces in each. Bake for 45 minutes to 50 minutes on a cookie sheet, until puffy and delicately browned. Don’t open oven door for at least 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Berries

On the menu today: Berries

It’s that time of year when plump, ripe berries of all colors are calling my name to bring them home and make them into pie, crisps or puree.  I have so many recipes for berry creations (one to follow) there simply aren’t enough meals in the day to indulge my collection.

berries

What makes berries good for you? Natural antioxidants and fiber support the body’s defenses and help to keep it running smoothly. Fresh fruits like berries provide these ~ plus food energy and good carbohydrates.  They are also low in fat and contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals. When selecting your fruits, consider including the following choices. According to the USDA, these are high in antioxidants and all are in the top 20 of the top 100 antioxidant-rich foods:

1. Wild blueberries
2. Cranberries
3. Blackberries
4. Raspberries
5. Strawberries

But not all fruit is rated equal. Many of you have heard me on a soapbox about the pesticide load in conventional strawberries.  This is due to the fact that they have such thin skin, and are so close to the ground…thereby real ‘suckers’ of toxic sprays. On occasion, residues are found to exceed even current legally allowable tolerances, the safety of which has been called into question by Consumers Union and other reputable groups, especially for children. Strawberries are #1 of 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found . Therefore, if you want to avoid pesticide-associated health risks, consider only those strawberries which have been organically grown.

Mixed Berry Crumble (Serves 6-8)

When grinding the nuts, be careful not to go too long or you’ll end up with nut butter.  Sometimes I blend almond meal (Trader Joe’s) with the hazelnuts for better texture/flavor. If you can’t find Sucanat,  use light brown sugar.

Crumb Crust/Topping

1 cup hazelnuts or almonds (about 4 oz.)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup Sucanat (natural cane sugar – available at Whole Foods)

3/4 cup organic unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), chilled and cut into small pieces

Filling

1/3 cup Sucanat

1.5 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

2+ pints berries of your choice (I mix all types)

Preheat oven to 350º.  To prepare crust/topping, roast nuts in medium baking pan for approx. 10 minutes. If using hazelnuts, rub off skin and let cool.  Increase oven temp. to 450.

In food processor, grind nuts until fine – approx. 10 seconds.  In large bowl, mix nuts, flour, and sugar.  Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter into flour mix until coarse crumbs for,m.  Using fingers, evenly press half of the crust into bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch tart pan.

To prepare filling, mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl.  Fold in berries and spoon into crust, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle with remaining crumb topping and pat down gently.

Bake until topping is golden and filling is bubbly ~ approx. 30 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.