Tag Archives: tomatoes

Ratatouille

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The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

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This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

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Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade

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This recipe comes from my good friend Alyce, whose tastes I have great respect for. I have made a few changes here and there to adapt it to my family’s size and preferences, but it is pretty close to Alyce’s version. It has been so long that I have been making it that I no longer even have her original recipe, so if I have gone too far astray Alyce, sorry!

A traditional tapenade has an olive and olive oil base, but usually includes capers and anchovies and not tomatoes. It is also more finely chopped, made into almost a paste with a mortar and pestle. I love the contrast that the slightly tart sun-dried tomatoes add, and I like the texture of a fine dice instead of a paste. You can also use a food processor to mix the ingredients, but add your tomatoes first (and chop separately) as they will take longer than the olives to chop (and you don’t want olive goo with big chunks of tomato). Kalamata olives provide a stronger taste to the olive mixture: you can adjust the ratio of regular black olives to kalamata as your family prefers. Over time we have gravitated to more Kalamata vs regular black olives, but I still have a couple of little ones who don’t appreciate too much of the stronger Kalamata flavor.

This is a great meal that takes very little time to put together (under 30 minutes if your chicken is thaw). If prepared “properly” it can also appeal to a wide variety of tastes (ie pickiness). Almost all of my family will now eat this as shown above, but that hasn’t always been the case. And I do still have one that won’t eat the cheese. The “proper” preparation/presentation for picky eaters: Serve the chicken, the olive tapenade and the feta separately. The pickiest eater should still eat the plain chicken breast. Those who object to the olive “mush” can just sprinkle cheese on theirs, and those who will never let cheese pass their lips can just add the olive mixture.

I like this served with couscous or brown rice. The olive tapenade is really great mixed into that as well! Or as a dip with toasted pita wedges. Or eaten straight with a spoon. Or . . .

RECIPE:

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Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade
——————(Adapted from my good friend Alyce)

10 sun-dried tomato halves (packed in oil or packaged dry)
½ cup boiling water (if using dry tomatoes)
1 cup black olives, finely chopped
15 Kalamata olives (use more for a stronger flavor or additional black olives for a milder flavor), finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
2-3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup finely snipped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano (or ½ tsp dried)
1/8 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4-6 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin (short on time? – cut into two thin halves instead of pounding)
2 Tbs olive oil
oregano, garlic powder, and black pepper

Snip sun dried tomatoes with scissors into small pieces. If you are using dry (not oil packed) sun dried tomatoes: combine chopped tomatoes and boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes. Drain. (Oil packed tomatoes do not need to be soaked) Combine drained tomatoes, chopped olives, 2 Tbs olive oil (reduce to 1 Tbs if using oil packed tomatoes), feta cheese**, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper. Set aside.

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thin chicken pieces in a single layer to the hot skillet (you may need to cook the chicken in batches: keep cooked chicken warm on a foil-covered plate while cooking remaining chicken breasts). Sprinkle lightly with oregano, garlic powder and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Serve chicken topped with tomato/olive mixture.

Side dish suggestion: couscous or steamed brown rice

**I do not mix the feta into the tomato olive tapenade. I serve it separately on the side, because I have some who object to the cheese.

 

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Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1This is my standard go-to chili recipe. Thick and hearty. Full of roasted vegetables, ground beef and sausage (chorizo is my favorite), and two kinds of beans in a thick, spicy sauce. No runny broth-that is soup, not chili.

I know that a true Texas chili does not have any beans, but while I love the flavor of a good Texas chili, I also love beans. I love the taste, the contrasting texture they give to chili, and the fact that beans are so good for you! So while my chili may not be approved of by hard core Texans, I will continue to put beans in.

Chili is a great crock pot meal, and tastes even better the second day.

You can make this chili the “fast” way or the “it takes a little longer but is so worth it” way. The difference is: to roast or not roast the veges (onions, peppers, garlic). I have definitely made my share of chili the fast way, but I do prefer the additional flavor you get by roasting the vegetables before adding them to the chili. To roast the onions, garlic and peppers: peel onions and cut in half. Cut larger peppers in half and remove seeds. Smaller peppers, like jalapenos can be left whole. You can roast a whole head of garlic, or roast individual cloves (this will be faster). Place onions, garlic and peppers on a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with olive oil. Roast at 475°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until veges begin to blacken. See How To Roast Peppers or How To Roast Garlic for quick tutorials.

Top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped raw onions (red onions or scallions are great). And make lots: chili freezes wonderfully for another meal another day.

RECIPE:

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Hearty Beef Chili

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 onions
1 red pepper
1 large banana pepper
2 jalapenos, (use seeds for a spicier chili)
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbs adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
3 cans (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh)
1 Tbs chili paste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tomato paste, if needed
Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped raw onions (red onions or green onions)

Cook ground beef and sausage until browned. Drain and place in a crock pot with the cooked bacon. If desired, roast the onions, red pepper, banana pepper, jalapenos and garlic (Brush with olive oil and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 475°F for 15-20 minutes). Chop vegetables and add to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients (except tomato paste and toppings). Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Taste after about 4-6 hours. Add additional salt or more heat (more chili paste or crushed red peppers), if desired. Thicken with tomato paste if chili is too thin. Serve with desired toppings.

 

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End of Summer Produce: Greek Tomato Salad

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We are still getting a few ripe tomatoes off of our garden tomato plants, but with nights getting cooler and days getting shorter, most of our tomatoes still look like this:

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So here is one last summer tomato salad. When we start getting frost warnings, which could be any time now, I will bring in all of my green tomatoes and make some Green Tomato Salsa.

RECIPE:

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Greek Tomato Salad

3-4 tomatoes, chopped
3 small pickling cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber,
——– chopped (peeled if skin is tough)
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning, optional
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Combine tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper and onion. Stir together remaining ingredients, except feta. Pour over salad. Serve right away, or refrigerate. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve on the side to be sprinkled on).

 

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Black Bean Fruit Salsa and Spicy Grilled Chicken

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I love the colors of summer food. Bright, vibrant hues that scream freshness!

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This fresh salsa is one of my favorites. Fresh tomatoes, mangos (or peaches or nectarines), cilantro, black beans, and just a little bit of fresh hot pepper. It is not too spicy, which makes it perfect to pair with a spicy grilled chicken.

RECIPES:

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Spicy Grilled Chicken
—————-
(adapted from Once Upon a Plate)

6 boneless chicken breasts or 10 boneless chicken thighs
1 Tbs smoked paprika
1 Tbs chili paste (or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 chopped mint leaves

Place chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag.

Combine paprika, chili paste, garlic, salt, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and mint. Add to the bag with the chicken. Seal and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

Heat grill. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through.

Serve with Black Bean Fruit Salsa, if desired.

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Black Bean Fruit Salsa

1 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup corn
3-4 tomatoes, chopped (or 2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes)
1-2 mangos, nectarines, or peaches, chopped
1 hot banana or jalapeno pepper, minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
5 green onions, sliced
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
½ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. Toss gently. Serve with tortilla chips or as a condiment to grilled chicken or fish.

Also try with  Grilled Peruvian Chicken Thighs

 

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Pizza with Roasted Zucchini Pomodoro Topping

Copy of DSC01851Last week the weather turned cold, and it was time to bring in all of the remaining vegetables and herbs. Some of these things will be dried or frozen, but I took the opportunity to use some of the last of our oregano and thyme to make this pizza topping.

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This recipe came my way from a good friend Amelia, who had given it to my daughter, Middle K. M-K was working on a project where she had to plan and prepare all of the meals for our family for two weeks. I was surprised that she chose such a healthy pizza option as one of her dinners, but I am so glad that she did. We have made it several times in the last month since her project finished. We modified the recipe quite a lot, roasting the vegetables instead of sautéing them and changing up the spices.

Grow Your OwnI have followed the Grow Your Own event for some time now, and I am excited (as a new blogger) to now submit my own garden harvest recipe. I love seeing how other people use the fresh produce from their gardens. For all of the Grow Your Own recipes this month,visit host Andrea Meyers.

Slice fresh zucchini and tomatoes and place them on an olive oil brushed roasting pan.

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Brush the veges again with additional olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast at 450°F for 10 minutes.

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DSC01815Meanwhile chop your herbs of choice- we used oregano and thyme  (basil would also be good)  and stir in some chopped garlic. Top zucchini and tomato slices with herb/garlic mixture. Roast again for another 10 minutes.

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While the zucchini and tomatoes are roasting again, prepare your pizza crust. Instead of a regular pizza crust, we used sliced French bread and some whole wheat tortillas. I loved how the tortillas turned out. The flavor of the toppings really dominated the dish! It did require a fork for eating, however!

We also used a Basil Pesto for sauce instead of a tomato based sauce. It was fabulous-highly recommended.

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Add a layer of cheese to your pesto-topped crust and then arrange roasted tomatoes and zucchini over the cheese. I would have liked for these to have had even more of the toppings, but we didn’t have quite enough for all of our pizzas. Next time I will roast lots more zucchini and tomatoes.

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Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve with crushed red peppers, if desired.

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RECIPE:

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Pizza with Roasted Zucchini Pomodoro Topping

Topping:
1 lb fresh plum tomatoes, cut in half (or any variety, thickly sliced)
2 zucchini, cut into slices
2 Tbs olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
1-2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme or basil

Pizza Crust
Pizza Sauce/Pesto Sauce
Cheese (try mozzarella, shredded or fresh, goat cheese, Parmesan)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a broiler pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Arrange tomato and zucchini slices on the pan. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.

Combine garlic, oregano and thyme (or basil). Sprinkle over partially cooked vegetables and return pan to oven. Cook an additional 10 minutes.

Spread crust with pizza sauce, pesto sauce, or use no sauce. Add a layer of cheese and then the roasted tomatoes and zucchini. Bake until cheese melts. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes.

 

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