Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Last night, I had a date. A date with an eggplant.

Eggplant and I have had a touch-and-go relationship. Well, actually, there’s never been much touching. Maybe a one-night stand at my favorite Sri Lankan restaurant where they actually know how to prepare eggplant. Usually, though, my relationship with eggplant consists of me finding it in mediocre grilled vegetable sandwiches that are the only thing on the menu I can eat. The eggplant is always squishy.

So I tried last night to make amends with eggplant and cook something delicious. Here was my game plan: fried polenta, broiled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted Anaheim pepper, balsamic onions. Pretty much everything I read recommended some combination of eggplant-tomato-pepper. Makes sense, as they’re all in season around the same time.

By the way, did you know eggplant is a berry? And in the same family as tomatoes? Never woulda guessed.

Anyway, the players:
– Balsamic onions: Slice an onion (I used red) into rings and saute over medium-low heat in olive oil until translucent and wiggly. Move to a bowl and cover in balsamic vinegar. Allow to steep until you’re ready to use them.
– Roasted pepper: I roasted my Anaheim pepper directly over the stove flame. I’m not sure I like setting things kind-of on fire in my kitchen. However, it worked well.

– Sun-dried tomatoes: Reconstituted in olive oil, which I then used to brush on the eggplant.
– Eggplant: Sliced into 1/2″ circles and salted for quite a while — an hour? more? Broiled for 5-ish minutes each side as in this recipe.
– Polenta: Pre-made polenta roll (will try to make my own soon), sliced into 1/2″ circles and pan-fried in olive oil.

The results?

Really good! The polenta had a little bit of a crust and lent a sweetness to the dish’s foundation. The eggplant was not squishy and had remarkable flavor — I think I’ll peel it next time, as the skins got a little tough. The tomatoes were just a little tangy and chewy, providing a nice complement to the roasted pepper. The balsamic onions, though, were what really tied the dish together, picking up on the tanginess of the tomatoes while making the polenta and eggplant more interesting.

I am so making this again. I really surprised myself!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the color burgundy.

These are some cranberry shelling beans I bought at the farmers’ market. Check out the pods! I think they were referred to as “tongues of fire” beans, and I couldn’t resist. The beans have beautiful cranberry speckles when shelled. Unfortunately, the speckles disappear when cooked.

Pretty pretty. I cooked these for 20-30 minutes in boiling water. I mixed them with some cooked green beans, lemon juice, parmesan, and salt and pepper.

We had a fabulous vegetarian dinner last night, totally veggielicious:

Sorry for the picture quality! The beans are in the lower left-hand corner there. In the lower right is some spaghetti squash and yellow squash, with a little bit of Parmesan. The upper right-hand is the tomato salad I love to make, and the upper left is some red fruit: Flavor King pluots, raspberries, and strawberries. Nothing added!

Seems like burgundy is a serious color theme in my life lately. I made some “sun-dried” tomatoes in my oven — sliced up about 1/2″ thick, on aluminum foil, for 8+ hours. I’m looking forward to using them in the winter:

And hey! I’ve started knitting a February Lady Sweater, just like everyone else it seems. I was inspired by brainylady’s post about it, and could no longer resist. I’m not one for knitting sweaters usually, but I think this one might just turn out super cute! I was really drawn to the shape of it, which seems incredibly flattering, and the prospect of picking out really cute wood buttons for it. I’m using Cascade 220 wool:

I guess Autumn truly is here. I can’t wait for leaf-crunching season to really set in.

Read Full Post »

In the vein of talking about tomatoes a LOT, I offer you a new and innovative way to enjoy tomatoes!

After a few weeks of making soup out of tomatoes, eating tomatoes on bagels, making pie out of tomatoes, putting tomatoes on pasta, drying tomatoes (more later), I’m still not over them. Although I’m investing a lot of energy in preserving the Early Girls for the off season, I want to savor some of them as unadulterated as possible. I’m not yet part of the camp that eats tomatoes like apples, probably because I’m still recovering from eating many a mediocre tomato in my day. That having been said, these tomatoes are GOOD, and I want to really taste them.

So! A simple recipe for using up some tomatoes. Y’all should know that I feel more masterful in the kitchen when working without a recipe — responding to the ingredients that I have rather than blindly throwing “three tomatoes” into a bowl. The recipes that I put out there end up being a reflection of that. Check out what you have, inspect your feelings on correct tomato-to-lettuce ratio, and go from there.

And, of course, the better ingredients you can obtain — organic, locally farmed — the better this will taste.

For a generous one-person salad, you will need:
One slice of bread, toasted — I used Russian Rye, which yielded great results.
Two-ish tomatoes
Lettuce — I used baby greens because I don’t like ribs. Choose something green, not iceberg.
Onion
Mayo (can use Vegenaise to make vegan, or plain yogurt if you don’t like mayo)
Balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar if you prefer)
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

1. While toasting the bread, cut tomatoes into quarters or eighths. Leave seeds and squishy stuff in.
2. Tomatoes, lettuce, onion (cut into thin rounds, amount per your onion preference) all go into a bowl.
3. Take toasty bread and cut into pieces roughly 1″ square. Add to salad mixture.
4. Add dollop or two of mayo — maybe 2 tbsp, depending on how much you like or are grossed out by mayo.
5. Add splash of balsamic and drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

And the most important step:

6. Toss and let sit for a few minutes. The bread will get a little squishy and really really tasty.

Basil would go well in this salad, also. I’d recommend against adding other veggies, in the interest of highlighting the simple tomato + tangy flavors.

This recipe inspired by a recipe in my UCSC CSA cookbook.

Enjoy! A fabulous way to savor the last fruits of summer…

P.S. Yes that IS Animal Vegetable Miracle that I’m reading, and I’m on the tomato chapter! Talk about good timing. I highly recommend the book to, well, anyone, and will talk more about it when I’m finished.

Read Full Post »

Alarm clock goes off. 6 AM on a Saturday. Gross. I flop out of bed and manage to grab a hoodie and my keys through the fog of slumber. There are a few cats meandering the streets, but that’s about it. It’s early. It’s dark. I’m tired.

But I’m happy. Or I will be. Early Saturday morning can only mean one thing: I’m working the farmers’ market again!

This is a real tea towel that we had around, so we hung it up today. Love it. I feel almost as happy as they look. After some coffee and an apple.

Today was a great day at the farmers’ market. We had insanely sweet Gala apples, lots of our organic dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes (our main focus), giant Walla Walla onions easily six inches in diameter, and some beautiful purple bell peppers and Anaheim peppers:

Will someone get on it and make me some sock yarn in those colors? I love all the purple we ended up having today at the stand; between the bell peppers, our cabbage, the red Italian Torpedo onions, and our purple flowers, I’m in color heaven.

So, as I was saying, it was a great day to be selling at the farmers’ market. The sun came out about 7:30, and there were a lot of happy people walking around, looking for the last remnants of summer’s stone fruit, getting serious about beets (so many beautiful beet greens!), buying up summer squash and zucchini flowers… the vendor two stalls down brought his mandolin, so we even had lovely tunes intermittently throughout the day.

One of the best parts about the market is the kids. One kid came up to the stand with his mom, who was buying tomatoes. He told me and my co-worker we “looked funny with our aprons on.” “Oh?” I asked, “And what do we look like?” He thought a bit, and responded, “Tomatoheads!”

You know, there are worse things to be.

Check out these conjoined tomatoes! We usually snag the funny-looking tomatoes and put them on display near our scale. I thought these were just too cute, being joined at the stem and all.

I’m always impressed by how red our tomatoes are. And part of the reason they taste SO GOOD (and why any fresh tomato will taste way better than conventional tomatoes) is because they’re allowed to ripen on the plant. According to my hero Alton Brown of Good Eats (from whom I get much of my food knowledge), industrial tomatoes — those sold in big grocery stores, even if they are organic — are picked when they’re just starting to blush. They’re then put in a room with chemicals that make them redden. Now, they may get red… but their ripening, or sugar development, stops the moment they’re picked. They may get prettier, but they’ll never get tastier.

And that’s why tomatoes from your garden or local farmer are downright yummier — because they’re actually ripe. I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until this summer. What I realized was I do like tomatoes. Real tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes… and tea towels:

I’m not going to get into details right now, but I will tell you that the stains are from tomatoes, and that this probably saved us half a roll of paper towels today! Stay tuned for total crafty and veggie dorkiness.

P.S. Obtained new Mason-Dixon book. Overcome with sudden urge to add to my kitchen cotton yarn stash. Predict I will not be able to resist the appeal of more knit objects in my kitchen.

Read Full Post »

A few days ago I attempted to make my way through my plethora of tomatoes by making a roasted tomato soup. I’m happy to report it was a success.

Evidence (and timeline) follows:

(Sorry for the blurriness — it’s not easy to take an oven picture!) About twenty minutes after this shot, the house started to smell incredible. It only got better… but there was still much waiting to be had! Notice the great color of the onions I had from the farm stand…

Three hours later, the tomatoes were roasted and squishy:

From there, they went into the food processor with some stale bread, with some veggie broth added and came out looking like… well…

I was so excited to eat the soup that I didn’t document the post-process state. I do, however, have this to show how much was left after four people attacked the soup:

It was tasty, to say the least. The goodness of dry-farmed, organic, seasonal tomatoes cannot be overstated. I had some of what was left on pasta. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…

Read Full Post »

I worked my first farmers’ market this weekend, helping out at the booth of a local organic farm known for their incredible dry-farmed tomatoes. It was great to give out samples (essentially enticing customers in, because apparently I am, as my co-worker put it, “more attractive than the two of them”) and see people’s reactions. I saw a lot of, “Oh, tomatoes, cool, okay… [insert taste here] Oh, wow. Those are really good. Honey you have to try some of these…”

What makes these tomatoes special is the way that they’re grown. They’re cultivated in soil that has a lot of clay, and this allows it to retain a lot of water. The tomatoes are never (or very infrequently) irrigated — so their water is drawn up from what’s already stored in the soil, bringing up a lot of minerals in the process. And voila — incredible tomato-y flavor. I don’t even like tomatoes that much and I love these guys!

Since it was my first shift, I was paid in produce. A pretty good deal if you ask me. I came back with three giant Italian torpedo onions, three purple bell peppers, a bunch of green beans, two heads of cabbage… and about 12 pounds of these incredible tomatoes. Now, however, I face the dilemma of dealing with said tomatoes.

Witness:

I decided to make a tomato-heavy soup that would also utilize the onions I received: this recipe from Alexandra Cooks (a blog I read regularly for food inspiration). It smells delicious only twenty minutes in… but look how many tomatoes I still have left:

If nothing else, I’ll be drying them, but I’ll probably be eating lots of caprese and trying this as well (tomato pesto pie… sign me up!). I guess this really will be the summer I learn to love tomatoes…

Read Full Post »