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Archive for the ‘Tomato’ Category

marinara

Last weekend we picked up some fresh pasta from Pasta Provisions here in Charlotte. It’s a great locally owned Italian grocery. We chose their garlic and rosemary linguine. I was stumped on what sauce to serve with this pasta. Brandon loves red sauce so I decided to keep it simple with an easy marinara full of tomato, garlic and basil.

My dad shared this marinara recipe with me years ago. It’s super simple and so much more flavorful than jarred pasta sauce. It was the perfect complement to our pasta and reminded me that I should keep this in the freezer at all times so I can avoid using jarred sauce on  week nights!

Easy Marinara
(Recipe source my Dad)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1 stalk celery, broken into 4 pieces
1 carrot, finely diced
32 ounce high quality crushed tomatoes (recommended San Marzano)
2 bay leaves
Dash of sugar
Shot of red wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned

Directions:

Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and red wine. Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, uncovered. Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil right before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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cherrytomatofish

I have really lucked out with access to fresh local fruits and vegetables lately. First, there were the figs. Remember the Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Pizza and the Fig Upside Down Cake? Then we had the mountain blueberry extravaganza that resulted in this Peach and Blueberry Crisp. Last week I found out that my brother in law’s tomato plants were going crazy. This summer he planted his first garden and I was really excited to hear that his tomatoes were doing really well and really excited that he wanted to share some with me!

When I saw the beautiful red and yellow cherry tomatoes I was instantly inspired to serve them over fish. I Googled “fish and cherry tomatoes” and this recipe from epicurious.com was the first to pop up. Usually, I spend forever looking for the perfect recipe but this was just what I had in mind so I went with it.

I found red snapper on sale at the store and it ended up working great with this dish. It was firm and didn’t fall apart when sauteed and good for my husband who doesn’t like strong fish. The cherry tomato/olive mixture is very flavorful and the red pepper flakes add just the right amount of spice to the dish.

This was a great summer dinner and we’ll definitely have this again!

Sauteed Snapper with Cherry Tomatoes
(Recipe source epicurious.com)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 to 1 pound tilapia, red snapper, orange roughy fillets
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (depending on your spice tolerance)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmers. Place fish in skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fish. Fish should be opaque and flake easily. Transfer to plate.

Add parsley, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, olives and garlic to same skillet and saute until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over fish.

Yield: 2 servings

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bluecheesebacontomato

I was flipping through the July/August 2009 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen when I saw these Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes.  After I wiped the drool off the page, I promptly went to the grocery to get the ingredients for this recipe.  I knew Brandon would be all about these too given his love for tomatoes, blue cheese and bacon.

This is a perfect side dish to use those delicious tomatoes that are in season right now. These tomatoes totally lived up to my lofty expectations. I really like that you don’t scoop out the tomato goodness but simply top the tomatoes with the blue cheese and bacon mixture. It was just the right ratio of topping to tomato, still letting the flavor of the fresh tomatoes be the star.

Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes
(Recipe source Cooking with Paula Deen)

Ingredients:

1 sleeve round butter crackers, crushed (we used Ritz)
5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 large tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Combine cracker crumbs, blue cheese, bacon and green onion in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir to mix well. Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide blue cheese and bacon mixture evenly among tomato halves.

Broil, 5 inches away from heat for about 5-8 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings

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tomatopieslice

Tomato pie is probably one of my husband’s all-time favorite recipes. The recipe came from his church’s cookbook and it was one of his favorite dishes his mom made. Though I grew up in the South, I had never heard of tomato pie until I met Brandon. I was definitely willing to give it a shot – the combination of garden fresh tomatoes, cheddar cheese and basil baked in a pie crust sounded right up my alley. I made this for the first time when we were in college and didn’t quite perfect it on my first shot. But lots of practice over the years and my own modifications have made me a tomato pie pro.

I only make this pie during the summer when we have access to local, homegrown tomatoes. The difference in taste between grocery store and garden tomatoes is huge and tomato pie is just not the same if you don’t have fresh tomatoes and basil.

Serve this pie with a salad of mixed baby greens and you’ve got yourself a delicious summer dinner.

Tomato Pie
(Recipe adapted from Christ Church Cooks)

Ingredients:

1 double 9-inch pie crust (homemade or Pillsbury)
4-5 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (feel free to add more if you’re a basil lover)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one pie crust, trimming sides if necessary. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes in the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Spread (or dollop) half of the cheese mixture over tomatoes and basil.

Repeat another layer of tomato, basil and cheese. Place second crust over the top of the pie and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Check on crust after 20-30 minutes and cover edges of crust with foil if they are getting too brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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pastavodka

Brandon is in the middle of law school finals and I haven’t been seeing much of him lately. He’s been studying around the clock. He had a final from 6-9 last night and I wanted to have a simple dinner waiting for him when he got home. I’m not going to lie that the inspiration for this dish was a great bottle of Toscano Rosso that I tried while I was wandering around Whole Foods after work yesterday.  I picked up a bottle and decided it would be a pasta night.

I had all the ingredients on hand for Pasta with Vodka Sauce and it was perfect with ciabatta served alongside. I love how easy this dish is to put together – the touch of red pepper and fresh basil definitely set it off. Try this out next time you are looking for a simple pasta dish.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
(Recipe source mostly Bakin’ and Eggs with guidance from the Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 15 0unce can of tomato sauce (pureed tomato)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, thinly sliced, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 box of pasta (a little less than 1 pound) ziti or penne recommended
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to get tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add vodka and let cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add butter and red pepper flakes. Let butter melt into onion mixture. Pour in tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Follow directions on pasta packaging for cooking. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin your sauce.

Pour cream into tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish plates with Parmesan and basil.

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tommozzsalad

We’re back from the cruise! We enjoyed a fun and relaxing week in the Caribbean. We spent every day exploring the best beaches on the islands we visited and enjoyed lunch and rum punch at beach bars. I went on a bit of a “tour de fish sandwich.” I must say the tastiest one I had was in Barbados at a little place called Carib Cafe. We’re going to attempt to recreate it at  home soon so be on the lookout!

My parents so kindly offered to keep Sullie while we were gone. Our flight got in Sunday evening and my dad had dinner waiting for us when we picked her up. He made an amazing pasta dish from Cook’s Illustrated. He sent me home with a ton of leftover fresh basil. One of Brandon’s favorites is Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad so I decided to get all the ingredients for it on my weekly shopping trip. We’ve been able to enjoy it as an appetizer/salad this week. I thought I’d share this easy and flavorful dish.

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

SALAD
Cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh mozzarella, diced
Sprig/bunch of fresh basil, julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

You’ll notice I didn’t give quantities for the salad. You really can adjust the amounts to your hunger/taste. For example, I like a little more basil than Brandon and he probably likes more cheese (hey, he’s a man!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Once incorporated, slowly whisk in the olive oil.

To assemble the salad. Layer the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a small dish/plate. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle the balsamic vinagrette over it.

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Greek Pasta

We love anything with Greek flavors and have tried several variations of Greek pasta. Usually we find that something seems to be lacking but I think we’ve finally found one to stick with. This was delicious and came together really quickly. The flavor was great and you can definitely play around with the ingredients and try different substitutions. For example, I forgot to buy kalamata olives at the store and we had green in the fridge. Rather than omit olives, I decided to throw the green in and it worked great.

Greek Pasta
(Loosely adapted from Mediterranean Pasta in Minutes, Tyler Florence)

Ingredients:
1/2 box of penne pasta (or your choice)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 8 1/2 oz can quartered artichoke hearts in water
1/3 kalamata or green olives, pitted and halved
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (divided into 1/4 and 1/4)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Follow cooking instructions on box for pasta.

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat (depending on your oven). Add olive oil and heat until shimmery. Add chicken strips and cook until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add diced onion and garlic and saute for about 3 more minutes, until onion begins to look translucsent. Add in artichoke hearts, olives, diced tomatoes, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce heat and cook on low until heated through. Stir in 1/4 of feta cheese and remove from heat.

Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Pour chicken mixture over pasta. Top plated dishes with remaining feta cheese.

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