Tag Archives: Tomato

recipe goodness :: traditional tomatillo tops salsa notions

Traditional Tomatillo Tops Salsa Notions

Traditional Tomatillo Tops Salsa Notions

Each week’s trip the greenmarket feels like a treasure hunt. But despite the many visits I’ve made over the years, I’m still discovering new items that I’ve never cooked with before. This week’s experiment: tomatillos. Luckily my produce stand is manned with friends of Mexican descent, who are more than willing to share their traditional preparation secrets to create a tomatillo salsa that will top any prior notions of what makes salsa good.

First: peel thin outer skin and cook 3 minutes in boiling water until color changes to a darker green.

Side by Side Tomatillos

Side by Side Fresh and Cooked Tomatillos

Second: Toss in the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain. Whiz. Salsa!

Salsafied

Salsafied

Traditional Tomatillo Salsa

4 tomatillos
~2 cups mixed yellow, red and black grape tomatoes
2 stems of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1/2-1 red chilli {depending on heat pref}
1 scallion or 1/4 medium red onion
salt to taste

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil with 4-5 inches of water
  2. Peel tomatillo and add for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 more minutes until tender.
  3. Drain and blend thoroughly with onion, red chili and salt to taste.
  4. Mix in chopped cilantro by hand.
  5. Chill or serve immediately as a salsa or topping to fresh grilled fish.

Salsafied:
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa 
Introducing grilled blowfish

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recipe goodness :: spicy tomato-meyer lemon stewed chick peas

spicy tomato-meyer lemon stewed chick peas

spicy tomato-meyer lemon stewed chick peas

More from the book of “sometimes the best dishes come together when it’s 7pm, your stomach is talking to you, and you don’t have much to choose from in the fridge.” What I love about cooking with protein-rich chick peas is that you can always have them on hand in your cupboard, so when you’re in a pinch you can easily throw together a quick and filling dish. And because they have a great neutral flavor, chick peas can be canvases for any sort of creative seasoning you want to stew them in. After adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I think we have a winner worthy of sharing. It’s a little spicy {but you can adjust that to taste}, a little creamy {from the marriage of olive oil, butter and chick pea starch} and it’s brightened by a kiss of citrus. Simple flavors, uber delicious — and it only takes 5 minutes. Keep this one in mind for a crowd-pleasing side or a self-pleasing bowl of mid-week goodness.

Spicy Tomato-Meyer Lemon Stewed Chick Peas

Serves 1 as a main, 2 as a side

1 can chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 meyer lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Drain chick peas and add to a small saucepan with all the ingredients, except the parsley.
  2. Heat pot to low-medium and simmer lightly for 5 minutes, until liquid cooks down slightly and chick peas are warmed through.
  3. Pour into a bowl, top with maldon sea salt and chopped parsley.

Serve with: za’atar-pecorino toasted crostini

More Chicks to Fall in Love With…
B
arcelona Balsamic Chick Pea Salad
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Some Like it HOT Pollo alla Diavola
Roasted Dijon Chicken Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Sunflower Seeds

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Do This!: Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

There is something very gratifying about growing your own greens. Herbs, flowers, veggies, whatever. I must have acquired this love to ‘putz’ in the garden from my Italian father, who can almost always be found in this worn-out threads strolling the beds, pulling weeds, watering the seedlings and making our backyard look lush.

But there is more than just beauty to growing your own garden — it is quite a practical thing to do. During the summer, I often want to make a simple tomato and basil salad or fresh salsa for a BBQ.  But as I stroll through Whole Foods, I realize how quickly these things add up — a pint of tomatoes for $3.99, large bunches of parsley, cilantro basil and mint for $1.99 each {and 1/8 of which I actually need and end up wasting the rest}. The benefit of growing a few simple herbs that you like to use all the time is your own free herb aisle that costs you nothing more than a few seeds {or seedlings} and will last you from spring to late fall.  And let’s be honest, it’s more effort to go to the store to buy these things than it is to sprinkle a little water on your plants each day so that all you have to do is snip off what you need whenever your cooking heart desires.

Even if you don’t have much space {concrete jungle dwellers}, all you need is a few window boxes or small pots and you’re set. For most things you do need sunlight, but a few herbs will do just fine on a windowsill if that’s all you have access to.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. Small plastic cups and plastic wrap {if starting from seeds}
  2. Window boxes or pots {if starting from seedlings and to transfer your seeds to once they become seedlings. You can usually fit 2-3 kinds of herbs side by side in a window box depending on how long it is. And 1 herb per round pot.}
  3. Potting soil {the kind with time-releasing nutrients is great so you get the benefit of rich soil over a few months}
  4. Water {of course}
  5. Your own two hands 🙂
If you plant nothing else, plant these:
  1. Basil {really hearty and goes great on lots of summer veg}
  2. Thyme {perfect on sauteed/grilled mushrooms, zucchini, chicken. will continue to grow inside through the winter. }
  3. Rosemary {my favorite herb! will continue to grow inside through the winter}
  4. Sage {BBQ chicken’s favorite friend!}
  5. Mint {will keep coming back in your pot EVERY year. even after it dies in the winter. That’s an easy one!}
  6. Strawberries {surprisingly easy to grow in a pot. and what a treat!}
  7. Arugula {small leaf lettuce is really easy to grow in a window box — and SO much more flavorful}
  8. Parsley and Cilantro {don’t you just hate buying an entire bunch when you only need a little}
  9. Grape tomatoes {if you have sunny outdoor space for a really large pot, you will get hundreds of little juicy tomatoes off 1-2 vines. I eat them like candy!}
Tips:
If you have the patience to start seeds in a small plastic cup with a little soil, it’s awfully gratifying to see them sprout up. Most seeds only take 1-2 weeks to germinate, so even though it’s already June, you can still start some herbs that don’t need to grow as tall as tomato plants — like basil or parsley.
  1. Get a baking sheet and line it with a plastic cup or small pyrex dish for each plant. Fill it about 3/4 of the way with light, fine soil and place your seeds on top evenly spaced.
  2. Follow the directions from your seed packet, but it will probably tell you to cover the seeds with 1/8-1/4 inch of soil. Add water to soak the soil and then cover the cup with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to secure the wrap to the sides. This will create your own little greenhouse to trap moisture and heat and help the seeds grow {especially if starting in April or May before it’s warm outside}. Add more water each morning if needed to keep the soil moist.
  3. If you start in April/May before it’s warm, keep these inside, but whenever you get a warm day you can easily transfer all the cups on the sheet to a sunny spot outdoors to benefit from the natural heat/sunlight. If you’re starting now, you can place the cups outdoors. Just make sure they are covered so the birds don’t get them!
  4. Once your seeds become ~2-inch seedlings, transfer them to a larger pot with soil and let them spread their roots!
First Strawberry of the Season!

First Strawberry of the Season! (June 7th)

City Herbs

City Herbs

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Recipes to Showcase Your Home Garden:
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: tomato, basil & feta salad

Fresh Tomato Salad

I went to the farmer’s market and bought the most perfectly imperfect tomatoes from a New Jersey farmer. They had big brown spots where the sweet fruit previously hung from the vine, they were not perfectly round, nor perfectly red on the outside, but when you cut into them, all their glorious perfection was revealed. Redder than any red I have seen before {especially from a store-bought tomato} and that red persisted throughout — there was no big seedy, liquidy center or even an ounce of that white flesh so common in a tomato these days. It’s at moments like this, that I am convinced of the merits of buying locally grown farm fresh produce — this tomato tastes far superior to anything you will find while strolling the air conditioned aisles of your grocery store. And while we have been conditioned ourselves to expect perfection on the outside of our shiny, clean, bruise-free pyramid of produce, I think we have also all experienced that piece of fruit or vegetable that tasted nothing like it looked…or didn’t taste like anything at all. So do not be afraid of buying that unwaxed, slightly gnarly produce from the farmer at the market — you may be surprised by what you find inside!

Farm Fresh Tomato

So with my perfectly imperfect red tomato in hand, I made a stop at a local artisan cheese maker, Ardith Mae {you may remember them from 8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!}, to pick up some fresh goat’s milk feta and came home to make a salad so simple, but so fresh and flavorful. Here it is:

Farm Fresh Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

3 large, ripe field-grown fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh feta
1 sprig fresh basil
4 TBS olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Wash and cut tomatoes into equal size wedges and then cut in half again to get pieces approximately 1 inch in length.  Season lightly with salt {you can add more later, but the feta will add salt to the dish as well} and pepper and gently toss. Crumble feta on top of tomatoes. Chiffonade basil by removing basil leaves from the stem, stacking 5-6 leaves at a time and rolling tightly lengthwise and then slicing with a paring knife perpendicular to the roll — this will give you delicate ribbon-like basil to sprinkle across the salad which will look pretty, but will also make sure you don’t have to chew on a full basil leaf! Drizzle olive oil over salad and gently toss. Taste and add more salt, pepper or basil as you like .

Tomato Feta Basil Salad

Looking For More Farm-Fresh Inspiration?
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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