Easiest Tomato Sauce

Our fabulous neighborhood just celebrated its 10th Annual Tomato Art Fest, and I really hope you got to get out and enjoy it! In honor of the celebration, I wanted to post a tomato-centric recipe. This is the go-to tomato sauce in our home. It’s easy and delicious and can handle any number of additions. It uses the whole tomato (no peeling or coring!), and if you don’t have quite enough tomatoes, you can throw them in the freezer whole and defrost them when you’re ready to make this recipe. Simplicity. Makes life better!

Easiest Tomato Sauce

  • 4-5 pounds of tomatoes
  • 3-4 shallots
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • crushed red pepper
  • dried basil
  • dried dill
  • olive oil

Mince shallots (or onion – we use shallots because my hubs is allergic to onion) and garlic. Saute in about a tablespoon of olive oil for about three minutes – until translucent and fragrant. If you have an immersion blender, you can transfer these now to a 2 quart sauce pan (or you could just saute them there in the first place). If not, transfer to a stand blender. Add the tomatoes two or three at a time (remove any stems or bad spots) and pulse until smooth. Pour the puree into the 2 quart sauce pan. Continue to puree tomatoes and add to pan until all are pureed. Place pan over a medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, basil, and dill to your personal liking. We like a heavy dose of dill in our house. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and allow to reduce until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Other optional additions could be (cooked) ground meat, spinach, diced veggies, mushrooms, or quartered or diced tomatoes if you prefer your sauce chunkier. We have been known to run two pots of sauce as I prefer chunky and the hubs likes it smooth.

One other tip is to create a large batch and then freeze the sauce (I like to do 2 cup portions) for later use. It’s always nice to have prepared tomato sauce on hand. Having sauce that you prepared (and for which you controlled all the ingredients) makes it twice as nice!

Recipes: Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos

It’s obvious that I’ve become slightly obsessed with quinoa, isn’t it? I actually have a new recipe that I want to try using farro, but I haven’t yet been able to find it. Let me know if you know where I can get some! This recipe is my version of one that I found online in an effort to make the most of the veggies I had on hand. We had made a large pot of tomato sauce from all the tomatoes we’ve gotten lately (we make a big pot and freeze it in 2 cup portions), and I had poblanos, onions, and bell peppers. This didn’t turn out to be the most beautiful dish ever created, but it more than made up for it by being DELICIOUS!

 

Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos

  • 2 cups tomato sauce (I’ll post one of our recipes soon)
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked mine in vegetable broth for additional flavor)
  • 1 large green onion, or 3 small ones
  • 1 small bell pepper (preferably red or yellow)
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1 ounce queso fresco
  • olive oil
  • salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice the bulb(s) of the green onion. Chop and reserve the green parts. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and dice. In a medium pan, saute the pepper and onion in olive oil over a medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Quarter the plum tomatoes and add them and a pinch of salt to the mixture, cooking until the tomatoes break down – about 2 more minutes. Add the quinoa (and any other cooked veg that you like) to the mixture. Stir to combine and turn off the heat.

Split the poblanos and remove the seeds. In a 9×9 pan, layer about half a cup of the tomato sauce across the bottom. Nestle the poblano halves in the sauce. Ladle the quinoa mixture into the poblano halves. Ladle enough tomato sauce to lightly cover the poblanos over the top. Dress with the green onions and crumble the queso fresco over everything.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve! (Should make enough for 2 meals or 4 sides.)

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Recipes: Spicy Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa is a new grain to me, but I’ve enjoyed adding it to my repertoire. High in protein, it has a delicate texture that I’ve found delightful. It’s an easy way to slip a vegetarian dish into my week. It cooks quickly which makes it an ideal lunch item for this busy mama. I’m sure it would stand up to many different variations of this dish that I prepared with it.

Spicy Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (you could easily use broth to kick up the flavor)
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 golden zucchini, sliced
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pepper (whatever you prefer!), diced
  • salt
  • olive oil

In a quart size pot, saute the garlic and green onion (I used all of the onion – bulb and greens), and the diced pepper in olive oil until garlic and onions are translucent and fragrant. Meanwhile rinse quinoa well with cool water. Drain well. Add quinoa to pot and stir quickly for one minute to toast the grain and evaporate any residual water.  Add the 2 cups water or broth and 1/4 tsp salt to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. During that time, saute zucchini and tomatoes (or any other vegetable combination you like) in olive oil until tender. Season to taste. Add the sauteed vegetables to the quinoa, stirring quickly to combine. Replace the lid and let stand for 5 minutes off the heat. Serve and enjoy!

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Recipes: Broccoli Potato Soup

I know, I know – we’re in the heat of summer, and here I am making soup. But it was REALLY good! Also, my husband doesn’t like soup (so weird), so sometimes I make it just for me. This was one of those times. I had all these lovely vegetables, and this recipe was just calling my name! Plus, it’s a one pot dish – lovely for those of us who hate washing dishes.

Broccoli Potato Soup

  • 1 head fresh broccoli (around 10 ounces, trimmed and chopped)
  • 3 or 4 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth could be substituted)
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (more if you’re like me!)
  • half an onion (I used 3 green onions)
  • thyme (1 tsp dried or 2 Tb fresh)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add and saute onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant. (I added a diced hot pepper at this point for heat in the soup. Crushed red pepper would work too.) Add 2 cups of broth and the quartered potatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the chopped stalks of the broccoli and the thyme. Cover, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and continue to simmer for five more minutes or until the florets turn bright green. Using an immersion blender or transferring (carefully!) to a stand blender, process until smooth. Serve hot.

I added a dollop of Noble Springs chevre to mine. You could easily add sour cream or some variety of cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses – delicious!

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Recipes: Basil Lemonade

My first experience with this delicious combination was a few years ago. I took one sip and was instantly obsessed. I searched Pinterest for similar recipes and then concocted a combination of those that worked for our house. Our eight year old LOVES making (and drinking) this summer treat! You could add other things to make this an adult libation or add sparking water to make it a little fancier, if you like. We like to drink it over ice sitting on the back deck while watching fireflies.

 

Basil Lemonade

  • 20-25 basil leaves
  • 4-5 Tb sugar
  • 5-6 lemons
  • water
  • ice

Muddle the basil with the sugar. We usually do 5 to 6 leaves of basil with one Tablespoon of sugar with our mortar and pestle. The kiddo *LOVES* to do that part himself, and I usually follow up as necessary. Dump the muddled leaves and sugar into the bottom of a gallon-sized pitcher or jar. Juice your lemons and add the juice to the basil and sugar mixture. (Tip: microwaving the lemons for 10 to 15 seconds and then rolling them on the counter can maximize your juice extraction!)

Mix in 1 to 2 cups of hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add a mixture of ice and cold water until the lemonade reaches the dilution you prefer. You may serve immediately or let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to strengthen the basil flavor. Strain out the basil leaves. Serve over ice and enjoy!

 

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Recipes: Caprese Salad

I am sure that I’m not alone in being thrilled that the tomatoes are starting to make their appearances at the Farmers Market this summer. I’ve heard many people rave about tomato sandwiches and fresh salsa and how there’s nothing like a freshly-picked, sun-ripened tomato. I can’t say that I disagree!

However, my favorite quick recipes for enjoying fresh summer tomatoes usually involve garlic, basil, olive oil, and other Italian flavors. That’s probably no surprise as my recipes do tend to have an Italian influence running through them! Caprese Salad is by far the simplest presentation that I use regularly since it only requires slicing, arranging, and dressing. What I love about that is that it really allows the tomato to shine – and shine it does.

 

Caprese Salad

  • 2 to 3 medium sized tomatoes (choose a variety of heirloom tomatoes for varied colors on the plate!)
  • 1-2 balls of fresh mozzarella
  • handful of fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

Slice the tomatoes and the fresh mozzarella a little thicker than a quarter of an inch. Arrange tomatoes slices on a serving platter. Top each tomato slice with a slice of the cheese. Place a fresh basil leaf on each slice of cheese. (Alternately, you can cut the basil into ribbons and sprinkle it over the top.) Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Another option for enjoying this delicious combination is to place it on a bed of fresh spinach. Alternately, you could cube the tomatoes and mozzarella and toss them with mixed greens, dressing  the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stacked between bread slices, it makes a great sandwich too!

Recipes: Freestyle Frittata

For those of you who didn’t grow up in an Italian family, the frittata is the Italian take on an omelet. Maybe it’s familiarity, but to me, it’s the easier version. For one thing, there’s no flipping or folding involved. The best thing to me, however, is that it’s a handy recipe for using a variety of fresh produce. With the appearance of zucchini and yellow squash today in the Delvin Farms CSA share, it seems like a good time to get the frittata recipe out for a quick and fresh breakfast (or breakfast for dinner)!

You can use whatever combination of veggies (and meats) floats your boat. I like to add at least one, if not two, cheeses. I’m thrilled that eggs are available at our Farmer’s Market, and I really do think that they taste worlds better than the regular supermarket ones. In the recipe below, I like to use cheeses from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese and Noble Springs Dairy. I love the way that the tomato basil cheddar melts and the tang that is added by the goat cheese.

Freestyle Frittata

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini and 1 small yellow squash (about a cup when diced)
  • chopped green onion (about 1/3 c)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful spinach, chopped
  • 2 ounces Kenny’s Farmhouse tomato basil cheddar, diced
  • 2 ounces Noble Springs plain goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and milk until well combined. Set aside.

Chop and prepare all vegetables. Place a 10 inch (oven safe) skillet on a medium low heat. Pour in the olive oil. Add garlic and green onions and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add zucchini, squash, and spinach. Stir frequently until squash is soft and spinach wilted. Pour in eggs and scatter the cheddar. As eggs begin to cook, scrape the bottom gently toward the center of the skillet with a rubber spatula, making sure that the veggies stay even distributed as you move the cooked egg from the edges of the pan and allow more egg to cook. Once the egg is about half cooked and still very soft, drop dollops of the goat cheese onto the top and slip the skillet into the oven to finish the cooking. Let bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned, cheese is melted, and the top is firm. Let cool slightly, slice, and serve. Serves 4.

You can adjust this recipe as you please – use more or less cheese, add in some bacon, leave out the spinach, add mushrooms or tomatoes – anything goes!

Recipes: Balsamic Strawberries

With the last of the strawberries of the season, I wanted to share a favorite combination that I discovered several years ago. It sounded strange to me at first, but balsamic vinegar and strawberries play together really well!

Roasting the strawberries brings out a deeper flavor from the fruit, and the balsamic adds a complexity that is delightful. I don’t think this recipe is technically a compote, but it comes close. It’s great on ice cream and lovely on toast. I’m sure you could find other ways to use it as well. I’d love to hear about them!

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries

  • 2 cups straberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 Tb sugar

Hull  the strawberries, and remove the green tops. Slice the strawberries into halves or quarters. In a bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to ensure even distribution. Spread the mixture on a lined cookie sheet. Put the berries into a pre-heated, 400 degree oven. Roast for 20 minutes, checking to be sure they don’t burn. Stir once midway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm berries over ice cream!

Recipes: Radish Greens

Growing up, my parents were always introducing us to new and interesting foods. I had no idea that other kids my age weren’t eating sardines, shark, rattlesnake, beets, dates, and venison… We lived in a small town, however, and a lot of the more “exotic” foods were often less accessible to us.

One of the things that I remember my mother enjoying that wasn’t as hard to get was a plate full of radishes. She really liked the peppery little spring vegetable. I remember her slicing off the tops, dipping them in salt, and eating them like they were the best treat in the world. Wanting to enjoy the same things as my Mom, I often joined her, but sometimes found them to be too peppery for my sensitive little mouth.

I’ve since grown to enjoy heat in foods and often add radishes to my salads – although I rarely snack on them the way Mom still does. What I did find, however, is that those radish greens she used to cut off and toss are both edible and quite tasty!

You can drop the greens into soups as an added green element, but my favorite preparation of the greens is to create a pesto with them:

Radish Green Pesto

  • 2 large handfuls of fresh radish leaves, stems removed (the leaves only stay fresh for a day or so)
  • 1 ounce hard cheese (such as pecorino or parmesan), shaved or grated
  • 1 ounce nuts, such as pistachios (what I use), almonds, or pinenuts (I’ve read that you should avoid walnuts but have never tried it myself)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more to add for the consistency you want
  • salt and pepper

Place everything in a food processor and process in short pulses until smooth; scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. This will produce a thick pesto. You can add more oil and pulse again to thin the consistency to what you prefer.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pack into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator; use within a few days or freeze.

RadishLeafPesto

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