Roasted Tomato Soup

The tomatoes are taking over! Plum, cherry, great big Brandywine and Ramapos, all precariously perched on my counter. I needed to get cracking before they all turned to mush, but I have little time to cook these days, and a lot of my kitchen equipment is packed for the move.

Then I remembered this couldn't-be-easier recipe that's great to keep in mind as we start getting those cool "fall preview" evenings. The recipe freezes well too- freeze the soup after you puree it but before adding any cream. You can always add cream when you reheat the soup, if you want.

Ryan usually avoids soup, but I served him a small amount with a few homemade croutons floating on top, and he finished the whole bowl. I was amazed!

Roasted Tomato Soup- adapted from Tyler Florence

You need:
2 1/2 lb. assorted tomatoes, halved and cored
2 small yellow onions (or a handful of shallots), peeled and sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
Several handfuls of fresh basil leaves
Heavy cream (optional)

Heat the oven to 450. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, on a large baking sheet along with the sliced onion and garlic cloves. Drizzle generously with olive oil (use 1/4 cup or more) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are soft and beginning to caramelize.

Pour everything, including all the juices, from the baking sheet into a large stockpot. Add about 4 cups of stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Add a basil leaves, then blitz everything thoroughly with an immersion blender. Add a bit of cream, if desired. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Great with:
-A grilled cheese sandwich and a pickle
-Roasted corn kernels added after pureeing
-Homemade croutons on top
-A handful of cooked tortellini or ravioli in each bowl

Gratin improv

I had eggplant. I had tomatoes. I had fresh basil. I had fresh mozzarella. I had a bag full of leftover cubed baguette in the freezer. The stars were aligned.

The eggplant got sliced, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and broiled until light golden. Thick slices of ripe tomato and thin slices of the mozzarella were layered with the eggplant in a gratin dish. The basil was torn up by hand and tossed on top. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper for good measure. Then, the bread cubes, and another generous drizzle of oil over all.

I covered the gratin with foil and baked at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the juices from the tomatoes were bubbling. I used a spatula to press down on the bread cube topping so that they would soak in some of that delicious juice, the put the gratin back in the oven uncovered until the tops of the bread cubes were crisp and golden.

Oh, it was so good.

CSA 2010: Week 12

9:06 AM by Stephanie 0 comments
It's been a few weeks since I've posted, but we are firmly in summer territory now. The lettuce is long gone, and the tomatoes are coming fast and furious. We've also had some wonderful heirloom potatoes. Summer squash are oddly MIA so far. I keep seeing them listed on the CSA's "This Week" page but we have yet to see any. Here's what we got this week.

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! 7 lbs, to be exact. To go with the 6 lbs. we received last week. Also:

-A watermelon, oh happy day! It was perfect- ripe, flavorful, chin-drippingly good.
-Purple cabbage
-Green beans
-Other assorted good things I'm forgetting at the moment

This is summer.

They were delicious, so sweet and so cold.

This summer moment brought to you by William Carlos Williams and Tree-Licious Orchards.

CSA 2010: Week 9- Tomatoes!

Joy of joys, it's finally raining! Good for the yard, good for my mental health. The heat has been absolutely draining me of energy.

We're finally seeing some summer-y produce; the tomatoes and squash have arrived in the farm stand. This week I'll be sure to check the forecast before making my weekly meal plan. No lasagna on 100 degree+ days this time.

Tomatoes! Hooray!
Pattypan squash
Two pounds of some lovely yellow-fleshed potatoes

Specialty basil and a few stems of flowers were available in the pick-your-own fields today, but with the boys along and the rain steady, we didn't venture out. Looking forward to harvesting some Thai basil next week, though.

Sandwich night: Spinach and artichoke panini

Darn it, I keep forgetting to take pictures!

Tonight it was Jason's night to choose, but when I asked him what he wanted, he just mused "Well, panini would be good. Maybe something with artichokes..." And that was all the guidance I was going to get.

I'm on a major clean-out-the-pantry and purge-the-freezer kick, so I went rooting around and here's what I came up with. A can of artichoke hearts, a jar of roasted red peppers, and a package of frozen chopped spinach. In the fridge I found some Boursin and mozzarella.

I drained and chopped the artichoke hearts. Heated some olive oil in a skillet, then threw in some minced garlic and let it sizzle. I dumped in the artichokes and sauteed them til they started to brown just a bit, then stirred in the thawed, drained spinach and let the mixture cook til heated through. I sliced up a round french loaf, and spread Boursin on half of the slices. Then I topped the Boursin with the spinach-artichoke mixture, roasted pepper strips, and some shredded mozzarella. The outside of each sandwich got a light brushing of olive oil. Five minutes in the panini press and the sandwiches were cooked to golden perfection. Very tasty, AND I cleared out 3 pantry/freezer items plus finished off the Boursin and mozzarella. I need to think of Boursin for panini more often- the creamy texture and garlic-herb flavors make it a great spread for hot sandwiches.

Next week it's back to Ryan's turn, and I'm hoping his choice will be something other than banana-Nutella panini. We'll see...

Making it up as I go...

When I scribbled this week's menu plan, the current heat wave had not yet been forecast. Want to know what I'd originally planned for tonight? Lasagna. Lasagna that bakes in a 400 degree oven. NO WAY that was happening today, when temps here hit 102.

But...I did have a large bunch of chard to use up. And a container of ricotta in the fridge, that I purchased a while back for reasons now unclear to me, which was nearing its expiration date. And (so I thought) lasagna noodles. And some mozzarella.

So, I came up with a compromise: skillet lasagna. I made a quick tomato sauce with olive oil, garlic, canned tomatoes and basil. Then I reached for the box of lasagna noodles...only to find that I didn't have any. Instead I parboiled some ziti and mixed together the ricotta, an egg, a handful of grated parmesan, and a dollop of freshly made pesto. I put a little tomato sauce in a large skillet, scattered half the ziti on top, then plopped spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture all over. I placed handfuls of chopped chard on top of that, then the remaining ziti, and finally the rest of the sauce poured over everything. I put a lid on the skillet and let everything simmer for about 25 minutes (long enough to cook the egg and bring the pasta to al dente). Then I removed the lid and scattered some shredded mozzarella on top, letting it melt.

The verdict? All the flavors of lasagna, none of the oven heat! And most of the stovetop time is a) unattended and b) covered so you're not standing over a hot pot stirring and sweating. Granted, on a hot day like this I might have preferred a lighter meal (or perhaps just an ice cream cone!), but I'm happy to have used up the ingredients and eaten a delicious meal! I'll be making a skillet lasagna again...but maybe I'll wait til there's some snow on the ground. And until I have some actual lasagna noodles in the pantry.

A little red, white and blue for the 4th...

Here's a little firecracker you can pop right into your mouth. Bright red Peppadew peppers, stuffed with crumbled blue cheese.

Peppadews were probably trendy a few years ago- I tend to lag behind like that- but they're still mighty tasty. I love the combo of sweetness and heat they pack, and I especially like that their heat is not accompanied by the burn you experience with some other peppers. Combine that piquanté pepper flavor with the tang of blue cheese and you've got a delicious mouthful.

If, like me, you're a bit behind the curve, you can read about Peppadews on the company's website and check out some recipe ideas while you're there.

Happy 4th, all!

CSA 2010: Week 8

6:53 AM by Stephanie 0 comments
Still feeling green, but we got a break from the kale this week. Never fear, it'll be back later in the season! I'm looking forward to some summer squash and tomatoes soon...

New potatoes!

I was thinking I might make a chard lasagna this week...until I saw that the weather forecast is for 98-99 degrees most days. Ugh! We will not be turning on the oven for a while. Maybe I'll investigate skillet lasagna recipes and adapt something...