Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

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At this time of year the tomatoes are plentiful, and I do not like to see any go to waste …. also don’t have quite enough time to can it all!  This is my go to, for whatever amount of tomatoes I have ripe at the time.

Fill a roasting dish with tomatoes, (roughly chopped, skin on), garlic, onion, sweet peppers and entire stalks of fresh herbs.  (I also sneak a few carrots in there) Drizzle over some good quality olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast at 350 for 2-4 hours, very flexible.  This also works in the crockpot.

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Allow to roast until reduced by about half.  Remove the stalks of fresh herbs, they have done their job …..

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Puree with immersion blender or food processor (if you use processor make SURE you have left room for steam to escape or this can be a nasty experience).  Stir in 1 small tin of tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Depending on the acidity of your tomatoes, you might like to stir in a bit of sugar, but taste first.img_9396

It is easy to just put the cooled sauce in a marked freezer bag, and put it in the freezer to enjoy all winter long.

Tabouli Salad

This tabouli salad is made with quinoa, so a complete meal for a vegetarian option, or serve alongside a grilled chicken breast …. or tonight’s choice – chicken wings with a Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce …. yumminess.

Tabouli Salad

1 cup quinoa – rinse well
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in rustic pieces
1 small bunch kale, very finely chopped (remove stem)
1/2 English cucumber, cut into fine quarters
1 cup finely chopped assorted colored sweet peppers
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (pickling instructions below)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp orange zest and 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Pickling red onions: Thinly slice red onions and pour boiling water over for 10 seconds – drain off, and cover with fresh squeezed lime juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt. They turn such a great color.

Tabouli
Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium sauce pain, ccover with 1 3/4 cup cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook until water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let it cool.

In a large bowl toss all prepared vegetables and the cooled quinoa.

Dressing
Combine zest and fruit juices, drizzle oil slowly in to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with prepared Tabouli Salad and taste …season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Torn and Tossed Garlic Bread

Everybody loves the crunchy crust and soft tender bits of garlic bread – why not get more of it?

Torn garlic bread is crunchy and soft all at the same time.

Torn garlic bread is crunchy and soft all at the same time.

I had a loaf of sourdough bread and half a loaf of French bread – rather than tear it I cut it all into approximately 2 inch pieces.

Melt 1/2 cup butter, stir in 2 garlic cloves and 1 small shallot – both chopped fine. Naturally, use more garlic if you feel so inclined (and everybody is eating it…).

In a large bowl combine the melted butter, garlic and shallot mixture – add in the cubed bread, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

This is great made earlier in the day too, just let it sit and absorb all those flavours.

When you are ready to serve, spread cubes on baking sheet – take care not to overcrowd the pieces. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes just until the outside is nice and crispy, golden brown.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve – everybody will love it!

Serve this with as any side dish, or with your favorite soup or salad.

Mushroom Kale Risotto

Serves 4

  • Mushroom Kale Risotto

    6 to 8 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2½ tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ¾ cup white wine or brandy
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Place broth in a medium sauce pan and heat to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.
  2. Clean and chop the mushrooms and kale. Mince the shallot.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, pot or Dutch oven, heat 2½ tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Add the shallot, mushrooms, kale, and ½ teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups Arborio rice and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ¾ cup white wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, a few minutes.
  4. At this point, you’re ready to start adding the broth. Add ½ cup warmed broth to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Repeat, gradually adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring, until rice is tender but still al dente and sauce is creamy (you may not need all the broth). The process should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Stir in ¾ cup Parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until combined (or turn off the heat and cover the dish for a few minutes). Remove from heat and season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan cheese.

This is very flexible – tonight’s version included crimini and Portobello mushrooms, but you could use any variety you like.  To make a vegetarian version use vegetable stock.  Make sure you love the flavor of your stock, so important to the finished product. This will lose its creaminess if you can’t serve it right away, so keep a little of the warmed broth if you need to soften it up a bit.

Sweet Basil Pesto

I think one of my favorite herbs is basil – always makes me think of summer and freshness – drinking Holy Basil Tea right now in fact!!

Basil Pesto

3 cloves garlic

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup finely grated best quality parmesan cheese

2 tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

drop garlic cloves into food processor while it is running, continuing with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and salt.  Pulse after it is finely chopped, and with motor still running slowly add oil – scrape down the side of the bowl a few times. Do another couple pulses just to make sure it is all finely blended.

This keeps easily in the fridge for up to a week, and will store well in freezer also.  Either freeze in small containers, or in ice cube trays.  Once they have frozen in the trays, pop them out and store in a ziplock bag.

This makes an amazing pasta dish – toss it with freshly cooked pasta, adding either a bit of the pasta cooking water or heavy cream, whichever is your preference that night!  

Other suggestions:

Pizza topping, with prawns and carmelized red onions – sprinkle with fresh spinach

Blend with butter and spread on french bread for an alternative to garlic bread

Top a grilled steak with a tbsp of pesto

blend 1 tbsp with 2 tbsp red wine vinegar & 5 tbsp olive oil for a salad dressing

Grill Roasted Pasta Sauce

I love the flavour that comes out of the vegetables right out of the garden – give them a grill before simmering this pasta sauce and you will be treated to that flavour all winter long.  

30 roma tomatoes, halved

12 cloves garlic, peeled

5 small onions, unpeeled and sliced very thick

3 sweet red peppers, whole

Grill all vegetables until you get nice grill marks and the garlic and onions are soft, lightly browned.  As soon as the sweet peppers are charred, put them in a ziplock bag or a tightly covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes – remove the skin and seeds.

Put all tomatoes with the vegetables in a large pot and simmer until tender. 

Add:  

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp chopped fresh or dried oregano

3 tsp white sugar

3 tsp salt

Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer just until all flavours have had a chance to blend well.  Make sure to taste it and adjust seasonings if you need a little more.Image

Either freeze in freezer safe containers, or process in hot water bath.

 

To preserve in hot water, canning bath – fill jars to within 1 inch, cover with hot seals and rings.  Process in hot water bath 35 minutes for pints.

This recipe makes about 7 pints.

Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)

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This salad is the perfect way to really enjoy the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers in your garden right now!</h3>

panzenella italian bread salad 2

Vinaigrette/Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (at least!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend.

I like to at least double this recipe and keep it in the fridge – a really great, simple dressing that tastes fabulous on vegetables, grilled chicken or fish, or just plain greens.

1 cup bread cubes

2 cups roughly chopped vine ripened tomatoes

1 cup roughly cut cucumber

1 tbsp. capers

generous amount of fresh basil – torn into smaller pieces

very thinly sliced red onion

small amount of feta – crumbled

Toss all vegetables together with a small amount of the dressing and allow to rest just so the tomato juices flavor everything right through.  I like to wait until just before serving before I add in the bread cubes and a bit more dressing – I love my croutons still crunchy!

For the bread I prefer to make croutons out of slightly stale bread – just chop them into your favorite crouton size piece and toss in a plastic bag with a variety of herbs, salt and Pepper – drizzle with a little olive oil and give it a good shake.

Toast in a toaster oven, or in a fry pan until the bread is really well toasted and crunchy – allow to cool.