Ever since the hubs gifted me with a fabulous immersion blender, I’ve been slightly obsessed with pureeing. It’s come in super handy with a baby in the home – applesauce and baby food purees abound! It also makes soups and mashed potatoes (both white and sweet varieties) a snap. When I learned that the skin of a butternut squash was edible, I thought this would be the perfect job for the immersion blender – and it’s amazing.
3 lbs butternut squash
1 head garlic
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the top off the head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Lay the squash cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and set on the same baking sheet. Roast in the oven for an hour.
Remove from oven, allow to cool until you can handle the squash and garlic. Place the squash halves in a bowl and puree with immersion blender (or blend in a stand mixer). Squeeze 5 to 6 cloves of the roasted garlic into the puree and run the blender to combine. (Wrap the rest of the head back in aluminum foil. It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.) Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time until the soup reaches a consistency that is appealing to you. Add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
With the influx of fall greens added to the last of the season’s tomatoes and peppers, I dusted off this recipe and updated it a bit. I’ve made a couple of tweaks (using farro instead of ground beef) that both make the recipe vegetarian and account for what I have in my pantry. Never be afraid to experiment! Cooking is at it’s best when it is personalized. This is a great recipe to use up leftovers – both vegetable and protein as well. You could break up leftover burgers, chop up leftover chicken, use leftover rice, and add any number of leftover vegetables to add to the filling. A variety of cheeses can be substituted (cheddar, mozzarella, feta – again, experiment!) or can be admitted to make this recipe vegan.
4 medium bell peppers (I like red, but used green here)
5-8 cloves roasted garlic (I use 8; I like garlic!)
1/2 cup chopped, sautéed swiss chard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a paring knife, cut off tops of peppers and carefully remove seeds and ribs of peppers. Drizzle small amount of oil inside each pepper. Place cut-side up in a baking dish.
Filling: In a bowl, combine farro, 1/2 cup of the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and chard. Stir to mix and salt and pepper to taste. Divide into four parts and and spoon into the peppers. Top with the rest of the grated cheese. Add a 1/4 cup water to the baking dish.
Bake in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes and serve. Delicious as a side or entree!
With the cooler weather, I’m craving soups and toasty breads. Since I’m the veggie lover in our household – as well as the soup lover – I’m trying to encourage our littlest man to enjoy them too! This soup, however, was all about my tastes since it’s pretty spicy. It was really easy and can be made with minor adjustments (vegetable broth instead of chicken) to be vegetarian and vegan.
3 lbs red bell peppers halved and cleaned
1 head garlic (or less, if you prefer)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tb olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
crushed red pepper or hot sauce to taste
Preheat oven to broil (around 350 degrees). Lay the red bell pepper flat, skin side up on a cookie sheet (I put down a layer of aluminum foil first for easier clean-up). Core the tomatoes, wrap in aluminum foil, and set them on the cookie sheet as well. Cut the top off the head of garlic so a few of the cloves peek through, drizzle in olive oil, and wrap in aluminum foil. Place foil wrapped garlic on pan too.
Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 15 to 20 minutes or until the skins of the peppers blacken. Turn off the oven, pull out the peppers, and toss them into a gallon sized ziploc to steam. Return the pan to the hot (but off) oven and let the tomatoes and garlic finish roasting.
In a 2-quart pan, drizzle olive oil and heat over a medium-high heat. Add thyme, bay, and onion. Sauté until onion is soft – 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth. While broth is heating, pull out peppers and rub to remove skins. Add each pepper half as you have removed the skins. Remove tomato and garlic from oven. Add whole tomato and squeeze out as many of the garlic cloves as you like. (I like my food garlicky, so I added 7 or 8.) Add rice wine vinegar. Continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaves. Using a stand blender or immersion blender, process until smooth. Return to pot and season with salt, pepper(s), and/or hot sauce to taste. Serve hot!
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 cloves garlic
crushed red pepper
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!