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Entries in tomato (3)

Sunday
Jul102011

Simple Pleasures

This could be the start of something beautiful:

Farmer's market heirloom tomatoes, toasted ciabatta, boucheron, basil, salt and pepper.

See the cheese?

If you were a cat you could smell it....

Sitting on the back porch, cocktail in hand, hoping this thunder I am hearing comes to fruition. 

Thursday
Jun162011

Pasta Pomodoro

Fellow Texans, when you are suffering in the midst of week of triple digit temperatures take comfort in the fact that we can plant tomatoes in February.  And when you want a nice fresh pasta dish that won't require you to sweat over a hot stove like an Italian grandmother, try this recipe:

  • 3 large ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped--since the beauty of this recipe is it's ease of preparation I don't peel or seed them.  Don't use canned, this is a summer recipe so you really need nice ripe tomatoes.
  • Arugula--as much or as little as you like, maybe none...that's up to you.  I used it because I think my arugula's days are numbered with the heat wave.  Inevitably I will forget to water it.
  • Basil--as much as you like, keep the leaves whole
  • Garlic--3 large cloves sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese--grate ~1/2 cup + more for sprinkling
  • Toasted bread crumbs--see this post for directions on toasting your own

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook penne until just shy of al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving ~1 cup cooking water.  Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, large pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes soften slightly and release their juices.  I add the garlic with the tomatoes because it prevents the thinly sliced garlic from burning.  Add the basil leaves and arugula and cook til just wilted. Add the pasta, reserved cooking water and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.  Add just enough cooking water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta, cooking until the pasta is the desired doneness and the sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, sprinkle with reserved parmesan, bread crumbs and garnish with some uncooked tomatoes.  A perfect pasta dish for a hot night.

Sunday
Jun122011

Strawberry Pico de Gallo**

**tomato worm not included.

I will suffer a freeloader for good vine-ripe tomatoes.  A risk most of us would be willing to take for organic produce.  Sophie insisted I throw this particular tomato away before she went to bed.  She said, "I can't sleep with that thing in the house, it's just weird."

The rest of the tomatoes I used for a fresh salsa with strawberries.  I decided to use the knife skilz I learned at the CIA to make a concasse.   Concasse is French for fancy chopped tomatoes--i.e. skins and seeds removed and cut into a small dice.  There is more than one way to skin a tomato, but the best is to slice a shallow "x" into the bottom and briefly blanch in boiling water and cool.  The skins slip off easily.

After you have peeled the tomatoes, cut them into quarters and use your fingers to scoop out the seeds and "jelly".  Chop to your desired texture.  The resulting salsa will look prettier without the seeds and be less watery.

I chopped the jalapeno into a fine dice as nothing is more unpleasant than getting a big spicy chunk all at once.

The poblano pepper I cut into a 1/4" dice as it is less spicy than the jalepeno.  I love traditional pico de gallo but have found that many people don't like cilantro.  I had some basil that was in need of harvest; strawberries pair nicely with basil--the birth of strawberry pico de gallo!  My favorite way to cut basil or other leafy herbs is a chiffonade--French for "rags"

Stack and roll the leaves

Slice across the rolled leaves

Do this last minute so the herbs stay fresh and toss with the salsa

3 tomatoes--peeled/seeded and cut into desired dice

6 strawberries--hulled and cut into 1/4" dice

1/2 medium poblano pepper--seeded and cut into 1/4" dice

1 jalapeno--seeded and ribs removed--cut into 1/8" dice

2 scallions-sliced thinly

6-7 basil leaves-cut into chiffonade

kosher salt to taste

juice of one lime

Mix all together and chill.  I added a handful of chopped yellow cherry tomato from my garden, just for color contrast.