Tag Archives: tomatoes

For the cold days

Remember that bread making class I took? I’m sure that you’re expecting more recipes for all thing yeasty.

I have plans.

Yet, right now, I’m going to tell you about beans. I know, I know, it doesn’t quite make sense. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

The short version of this is that, at the end of my class, I bought one of the instructor’s books, wooed by the promise of step by step pictured accompanying the instructions on making sourdough. Then, as I was flipping through, I saw this recipe for red beans. Having just spent three days making bread, this went straight to the top of my must make this now list.

I love all things braised, particularly in red wine, but, since, all things considered, I’m still fairly new to eating so much read meat, I’m always looking for ways to get the flavors without all of the heaviness.

This hits all the right notes. It’s rich, without the weight of so much fat, but with enough heft to be a main course. And, if you substitute dried herbs, then it’s made with pantry staples.

Today promises to be a cold one, I’d suggest getting started on making this immediately.

Red Wine Braised Kidney Beans
Recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1.5 cups dried dark kidney beans, rinsed and soaked
water
3 TBS olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small celery, finely diced
sea salt
4 TBS tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup full bodied red wine, like rioja or chianti
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
freshly milled black pepper

Preheat your oven to 275 F

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine beans with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, in Dutch oven, warm the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the dried herbs and stir.

Pour the wine into the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Add the vinegar and bay leaf. Then add the beans and their skimmed liquid. If necessary add more water so that the beans are covered.

Bring the beans to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are creamy on the inside but still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

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Filed under Beans, Meatless, Vegetables

[filler]…[tomatoes]…[more filler]

Consider yourself warned: this post is going to be short.

My initial draft went something like this:

[Filler].

Something about a whirlwind trip to Texas for work.

[More filler].

Musings about the heat in Texas and the dryness of the land.

[Even more filler.]

Segue into having too many tomatoes.

With a little bit of time, it would have been great: funny, charming, well-thought out. I had high hopes for it. And, then, my flight home got delayed, and I got caught up in catching up with my family before the holiday.

*For the proverbial record, I had plans to come up with some honeyed apple cake for Rosh Hashona, too, but, there’s always 5773 for that. Also for those of you observing, consider this my way of saying L’Shana Tova, since there will be no dedicated post.

So, I’m simply going to say that I’m making good on a promise that I made earlier this week: another use for the tomato soup recipe that I shared. Namely, minestrone soup.

A few years ago, minestrone soup became one of my go-to comfort foods, and this version is my favorite. You start by boiling pasta and potatoes in the tomato soup, allowing the starch to thicken it. I’ve included my recommendations for other additions, but the beauty here is that it’s one of those catch-all recipes, where you can add in whatever you have on hand. Given how much filler has been in this post, it seems somehow appropriate it.

Minestrone Soup

6-8 cups of tomato soup
1 cup pasta, such as dried small shells
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 cups kidney beans
3 celery ribs, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 cups broccoli, diced into small pieces
1 cup leafy greens, like kale (optional)
2-3 diced tomatoes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the tomato soup to a simmer and add in the pasta and potatoes. Heat for 6-7 minutes, until the pasta is tender, then add in the remaining ingredients. Heat until the potatoes and kale, if including, are fully cooked, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as an appetizer

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The Last of the Season

I’ve mentioned before how I was slow to like tomatoes, and that afterwards became ravenous for them. I still am.

This means that from May through September, I want to eat them at every meal. It also means that, come mid September, I get a little ridiculous.

Instead of buying a reasonable amount of tomatoes—say, two or three at a time—I buy them by the pound, momentarily forgetting that I live by myself, and tend to eat out several nights a week.

Wherein the problem resides.

I have pounds and pounds of tomatoes, and only one of me, and while I frequently have friends over for dinner, as it turns out, many of them do not think a plate of tomatoes constitutes a dinner.

Tomato soup seems the perfect solution—its easy to prepare, and best of all, it freezes well. Meaning, that I’ll be able to hang onto the last of the season tomatoes a least a little after the season is over.

In this case, roasting the tomatoes and garlic imparts a sweetness and earthiness to the soup. If you’re looking for something slightly richer, add in a cup or so of heavy cream, depending on your tastes. Or, you can dress it up with lots and lots of vegetables for a hearty minestrone. Stay tuned and I’ll be sharing a recipe for just that shortly.

Roasted Tomato Soup

For the Vegetable Stock
1 onion
3 ribs celery
2 carrots
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
approx. 1 tsp salt, with more reserved as needed
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 TBS olive oil
8 cups of water

For the Soup
3-4 pounds tomatoes
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 head garlic

To Make the Vegetable Stock:

On a low flame, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir for a few minutes, until the vegetables have browned slightly. Cover the vegetables with water. Add in the salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Allow to simmer for at least a half hour. Once you are ready to use the stock, strain out the vegetables and set it aside.

To Make the Tomato Soup:
While the stock is simmering, cut a clove of garlic about 1/4″ from the top and coat it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover with tin foil. Place in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes, until the garlic has become soft and has caramelized. Once the garlic has cooled sufficiently, remove the caramelized cloves from the paper. The easiest way to do this is by simply squeezing it into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in an oven safe dish. Coat them with the remaining olive oil and spices and roast for 45 minutes. You want the sides to be browned, and the tomatoes to have shrunk in side by at least a quarter.

When the tomatoes and garlic are ready, combine them with the vegetable stock, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary. Combine everything using an immersion blender. Simmer for five to ten minutes and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

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We’re problem solvers here

By now, my love of brunch has been well documented as have my not quite disasters.*

*hangs head in shame



Which is all to say that, while I have the starch part of brunch mastered, I’ve been struggling a bit with serving eggs—there’s the whole business of keeping them warm without overcooking them (no small task when you like your eggs as runny as I do). My poached eggs come out, well, disappointingly, to put it mildly. And, that’s when they come out at all. Although I’ve masted the art of the Frittata, my omelettes always end up as scrambled eggs with stuff in them. My fried eggs? I can cook great ones just for me. When there’s company, it’s all pear shaped.

Now you know.

But, I have a solution: Shakshua, which aside from having a hard to pronounce name, has the selling point of being flavorful and easy to prepare. The eggs poach gently, in a sauce base, so there’s no worry about fishing them out at the end. And, it comes together fairly quickly. Really, it’s a matter of simmering and a little bit of patience. In other words, you can prepare it while enjoying your mimosas and your guests.

Now you have no excuse not to make eggs.

Shakshuka
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 jalapeno peppers, diced with ribs and seeds removed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 water
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Warmed bread, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, red pepper flakes, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook another 2 minutes, until the garlic has softened.

Add the tomatoes and water to the skillet, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir occasionally, and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly. This should take about 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Crack the eggs, one by one, into a small bowl or cup and pour them over the sauce, taking care to distribute them evenly across the sauce’s surface. Cover the skillet and cook the eggs until the yolks are just set, approximately 5 minutes. Uncover and baste the egg whites with the tomato sauce to ensure they are fully cooked.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with bread for dipping.

Serves 4 to 6

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Variations on a Theme

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time at Milk Bar between needing to buy treats for my friends’ birthdays and looking for reasons to buy myself birthday cake truffles.

Each time I’m there, I can’t help but be a little sad that I didn’t come up with the concept of Franken Pie myself.

Seriously, it’s inspired: a mash up of all different varieties, so you don’t have to commit to just one. It’s gluttony at its finest.

In other words, not particularly sustainable, healthwise. But, the mash-up concept is.

So, here, is another mash-up, inspired in spirit by the pie, where in I combine several of my favorite foods as of late, including but not limited to broccoli rabe (I’ve only recently become a convert), pasta, and this sauce. If forced, I’d probably still go with the pie, but it’s nice to know that mash-ups can be healthy[ish], too.

Whole Wheat Penne with Tomato Braised Broccoli Rabe

1 pound broccoli rabe, rinsed and cut into approximately 1″ long pieces
2 cups whole wheat penne
14 oz tomato puree
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
Parmesan cheese, for garnishing

Blanch your broccoli rabe, setting aside.

In a large pan over a medium heat, heat the oil and butter until the butter has melted completely. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for approximately 2 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add in the tomato paste and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing flavors to combine, then add in the broccoli rabe and reduce the flame. Cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, braising the broccoli rabe until it is tender.

While your sauce is simmering, cook the penne in well salted water, approximately eight to ten minutes. Once the pasta is al dente, strain out the pasta, reserving the pasta water, and add it to the pan with broccoli rabe. Stir and simmer for one to two minutes, adding the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce as necessary.

Divide the pasta into four servings and garnish with parmesan.

Serves 4

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Repeat Performances

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but there are very few things that I am willing to eat for days on end. In fact, aside from this bread, I can think of only one.

Greek style gigante beans.

I can’t explain it except to say that the interplay of the acidic tomatoes and creamy beans hits all of the right notes, tastewise. It’s complex, but also homey.



Honestly, now that I’d written that, it sounds overblown.

So, instead, I’ll say this: it simply tastes good.

I opted to use great nothern beans in my version because, honestly, when it comes to cooking, I’m not particularly good about planning ahead. By which I mean, I didn’t think to soak my beans the night before. I thought the smaller beans might cook in less time. Thankfully, I was right.

Of course, now that I know how easy it is to make these beans myself, I’ll be doing so again. Maybe, I’ll get my act together to do it the more authentic way that the original recipe suggests, ouzo and all.

Greek Style Beans
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces dried great nothern beans
3 TBS olive oil
2 small chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 14 ounce can tomatoes, pureed
1 TBS tomato paste
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Rinse beans and pick out any damaged ones. Then place the beans in a large pot or bowl and cover with water. Soak at least eight hours.

When you are ready to cook the beans, preheat your oven to 350. Then, in a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until the onions are golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and heat for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer.

Rinse the beans and add them to the dutch oven along with the pureed tomatoes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Place the covered pot in the preheated oven. Cook for 60 minutes covered, then uncover and cook at least another 30 minutes, until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 6

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Better Late Than Never

Lately, time management hasn’t been a strong point of mine. Essentially, this means that, if I’ve had you over for dinner in the last six months, you’ve had to wait at least an hour longer than anticipated before sitting down to eat. I’m not being crafty, and trying to get you hungrier so that the food tastes bette—although on second thought, that’s not such a bad idea… I simply can’t get my act together.

This also means that I’ve been holding out on sharing recipes with you.

Case in point, the meal pictured at the beginning of this post which took place well over a month and a half ago.

Better late than never, I guess. And, so begins a series of posts all containing recipes from that night.

First up, a refreshing salad to offset the richness of everything else.

It seems like a throwaway recipe, I know. The basics, plus one weird ingredient, and minimal effort. A quick chop and a toss, and you’re done. That is, in fact, part of its beauty. It comes together quickly and gets better as it sits. Perfect if you’re running short and time and worried that you might run short on food, too.

A few things before you get on with it: The salt will cause the tomatoes and cucumbers to release their water. You want them to do this. It makes for a light, refreshing dressing and, combined with the dash of vinegar, helps pickle the red onion, taming its bite.

The sumac also works to tame the flavors and tie it together adding a slightly bitter, citrusy note. If you don’t want to spring for the weird ingredient, a dash of oregano is also a nice addition.

And, finally, if you want to add some heft to the salad, add croutons and chickpeas.

Israeli Salad

1 seedless cucumber, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed.
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sumac

Combine all ingredients in a large blow and toss. Allow to sit at least thirty minutes before serving at room temperature.

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