Tag Archives: tomatoes

Simple Summer Sauce

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In the summer, I love to make nice chunky tomato sauce with whatever local vegetables I can get my hands on. The farmers’ market has been kind and supplied me with the perfect ingredients.

Start by heating two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in your favorite pot over medium heat. I use a six quart dutch oven so I have plenty of room to work with.

Dice one large sweet onion and three large carrots. Add into the dutch oven, salt well and sauté until the onion is translucent.

While the onion and carrots sauté, finely mince four to six cloves of garlic; depending of how much garlic you prefer. My family loves garlic so I use six cloves. Add into the dutch oven and sauté until fragrant.

Two green peppers, diced, get added in next. Continue to sauté until all of the vegetables are beginning to get tender.

Strain six quarts of whole tomatoes and add to the vegetables. I used canned tomatoes from our pantry; whatever you have in your pantry will work. Stir well and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Add in one cup of your favorite red wine. I had a beautiful bottle of Merlot on hand that my husband’s coworker, a winemaker, had given us. Always cook with a wine you enjoy drinking and you can not go wrong.

Bring to a boil and immediately turn the temperature down. The sauce should barely be at a simmer. Continue to simmer for two to three hours. This gives the flavors generous time to marry and also allows the sauce to thicken. Stir occasionally.

Add in some fresh thyme, basil and oregano. I used fresh picked from my herb garden, but herbs from the farmers’ market, store bought, or in a pinch dried herbs will work also. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As is, this makes a nice chunky sauce. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender until it reaches the desired texture. The recipe makes enough for three batches, one to enjoy and two to freeze for future enjoyment.


Sausage Pasta skillet

Whenever dinner can be ready in under thirty minutes while only using one skillet, it is a good thing. Lately, there have been an overwhelming number of pasta one pot wonders floating around the internet. I admit, I was skeptical, but it really works! This recipe is my first attempt at one of these meals and I will definitely be creating more.

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First, lightly brown one pound of sweet italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. This will add flavor and make the sausage easier to slice. When the sausage is lightly browned, remove from the skillet and set aside until cool enough to slice.

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While the sausage is browning, slice one onion, two shallots and five cloves of garlic.

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Add one tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil into the skillet and add in the aromatics. Salt well and sauté until they begin to soften.

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Add the sliced sausage, oregano, basil and red chili flakes to the aromatics. continue to sauté until the sausage is almost cooked through. The onions and shallots will be beautifully caramelized by now.

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At this point, add in one quart of tomatoes, two cups of chicken broth, and one-half cup of plain almond milk. We canned tomatoes this summer so I used those. You could substitute one can of whole or diced tomatoes. You can also use milk or soy milk instead of the almond. Bring to a boil.

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Add in the pasta, turn down the heat, and cover. You want it to remain at a strong simmer. Cook for ten to twelve minutes until the pasta is cooked to your taste.

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When it is done cooking, the pasta should be tender and the sauce will have thickened up nicely.

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Now it is time to add in the cheese! I used dairy free ricotta, but soft tofu, full dairy ricotta, or even fresh mozzarella would also work well. Also add in a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast, or parmesan cheese if you prefer.

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Stir well until the cheese is fully incorporated. The sauce will take on a beautiful pink hue.

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Allow to sit off the heat for a little while prior to serving so the sauce thickens up to your desired consistency.

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Serve topped with additional nutritional yeast or parmesan. Had I not forgotten, I would have also served garlic bread on the side.


Roasted Veggie Pasta

One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh, delicious, local vegetables available at our farmers’ market. Since these vegetables have been winning my heart, I have been creating simple dinner dishes highlighting them.

Veggies Before

For this dish, I used four large tomatoes, one large zucchini, one large yellow squash, three banana peppers, two onions, and four cloves of garlic. The larger vegetables got quartered and sliced. The peppers and garlic just got sliced. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet.

Next I picked a few handfuls of parsley and oregano from the herb garden and tossed the whole leaves over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and your prep work is done.

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After thirty minutes in a 375* oven, the veggies are still slightly crisp but roasted nicely.  .

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In less time then it took the vegetables to roast, I cooked a package of quinoa pasta according to the package directions. When the vegetables come out of the oven, toss  with the cooked and strained pasta. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

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All that is left is to enjoy the flavors of the season, and we certainly did!


Sunday Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros

The inspiration for this dish came from Melissa d’Arabians show Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network. To see her original recipe, follow this link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/huevos-rancheros-recipe/index.html

Since then, I switched it up to make it dairy free and played with the ingredients to make it my own. This is a quick and easy breakfast that you can make over and over and never make it the same way twice! Also, one of the nice things about this recipe is that is just as easy to make for two or ten people.

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To start, the tortillas of your choice. In our house, this translates to whatever tortillas I happen to have in the freezer. The tortilla of the day today is a six-inch flour tortilla.

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Coat the tortillas with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Very carefully press the tortillas into a large muffin tin to make little cups.

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The ingredients always vary depending on what we have on hand. Today, I took six strips of this gorgeous thick cut peppered bacon and cut it into small pieces. This could be sausage, ham, mushrooms, even greens. Whatever you are in the mood for.

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Into my favorite cast iron skillet to brown. Once all the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned nicely, remove to a paper towel lined plate and drain the grease from the pan.

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Rinse and strain one can of pinto beans. This can basically be any can of beans you have in your cupboard. Black beans, kidney beans, or pigeon peas would work just as nicely.

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Into the skillet go the pinto beans to make the filling for the tortillas.

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Add the bacon back into the skillet as well. Can I just say, at this point, the house smells phenomenal!

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Also add in one can of unsalted diced tomatoes. Using unsalted diced tomatoes instead of flavored ones allows you to control the sodium levels in your dish. Since I used the bacon, I didn’t add any other salt to the dish. Next add in a few tablespoons of your favorite salsa and/or hot sauce. Stir well to combine.

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Scoop several generous spoonfuls of the bean mixture into each cup. You want them to be filled about three-quarters of the way. Crack one egg into each cup. Into the oven they go! Bake for about six minutes until the eggs just start to set around the edges.

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Pull them out of the oven and top with non-dairy cheddar cheese. Daiya is the brand of choice in our house, but feel free to use what you have. Of course, if you are not dairy free, cheddar or monterey jack cheese would work well here. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and back into the oven they go.

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Eight minutes or so later, the edges of the tortillas are nicely browned and the eggs are cooked through. Adjust the time based on how you prefer your eggs. For very loose yolks six to seven minutes would work. For harder yolks, let them go nine to ten minutes.

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Be very careful with this next step! Lift the individual cups out onto your plate. They will be hot! Also, you do not want to break them. Top with a small amount of dairy free sour cream. Of course, regular sour cream would work as well. I served them along side the leftover bean filling today. No need to let all that yumminess go to waste!


Fresh Tomato Sauce…or Gravy, whichever you prefer!

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I think most of you have gotten the impression that I love tomatoes! You are absolutely correct. I really feel that fresh summer tomatoes are one of the sweetest, juiciest, most flavorful foods on the planet. Best thing about tomatoes? They are in an overabundance this time of year.

While shopping the farmers’ market this past weekend, my hubby and I stumbled upon a great deal on a half-bushel of summer’s best. Didn’t take to much thought to decide to take them home with us.

What to do with that many tomatoes? Make fresh sauce….or is it gravy? Whatever you prefer to call it, the taste of this fresh recipe will make you never want to eat it from a store-bought bottle again! For the sake of easy reading, I will call it sauce throughout this post.

I will not deceive you, this takes a lot of work! In the end, it absolutely is worth it. You will have enough for dinner, and to freeze for six or so more dinners!

Place a large stock pot of water on the stovetop over high heat to bring to a boil. Salt the water well. I used my large pasta pot with the colander insert. This makes straining the tomatoes easier.

Next, peel a head of garlic. Yes, an entire head. Not a clove. Cut one onion, one medium carrot and one celery stalk into quarters. All of this goes into the food processor. Pulse until minced.

Place a large stock pot on the stovetop over medium heat. In two turns of good extra virgin olive oil, saute the veggies until softened and fragrant.

Meanwhile, clean all the tomatoes. I know a half-bushel seems like a ridiculous amount of tomatoes, but it really isn’t once you cook them down. This seems like a good place to mention that these tomatoes do not need to be perfect. This is a good use for all those mangled tomatoes you aren’t sure what else to do with.

Once clean, cut an “X” into the bottom of all the tomatoes. This will help with peeling them. When the water comes to a boil, carefully place the tomatoes into the water and boil for one minute. I had to do this in batches.

Immediately get the tomatoes into an ice bath. I used my stainless steel kitchen sink for this. Most of the tomatoes fit all at once.

Next, get to peeling. This is where that “X” comes in handy. Starting there, the skin will peel right off.

Once peeled, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze to remove the seeds. Reserve the juice, if your sauce begins to get to thick you can add it in. Alternately,if you don’t need it in the sauce, it makes for tasty drinking.

Once seeded, the tomatoes join the other veggies in the stock pot. Simmer forty-five to sixty minutes to develop flavor and allow the tomatoes to release their juices.

At this point, you can do one of two things. Either, get out your immersion blender and puree until you reach the desired consistency or smash with a potato masher. I prefer the immersion blender, but do what works for you. I know some people are cringing at the thought of taking an immersion blender to the tomatoes. Skip this step if you prefer.

Season to taste. I use sea salt, fresh ground mixed peppercorns, basil, oregano, and a little but of red pepper flakes. Switch up the seasonings however you like.

All that’s left is to enjoy in your favorite dishes. The first night, we had it over gnocchi. Then we froze the rest.

There really is no pre-made sauce out there that can compare to the fresh tomato taste you get in this recipe! Plus, you get to personalize it however you want!


Fresh Pasta Primavera

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This pasta was inspired by all the beautiful produce at the farmers market this summer. The heirloom tomatoes are gorgeous this year and are the star of this dish.

The “sauce” for this pasta primavera roast in the oven, so begin by preheating the oven to 350*.

Wash a quart of heirloom cherry tomatoes, strain and cut the larger ones in half.

Trim asparagus and cut into thirds.

Place on a baking sheet, add a pound or so of whole kalamata olives, five cloves of garlic sliced, the leaves from six sprigs of oregano, and the leaves of six sprigs of basil.

Liberally splash a good quality extra virgin olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for twenty to thirty minutes until the tomatoes burst.

Toss with your pasta of choice, cooked al dente. add a splash of white wine and a small amount of the pasta water. Mix well to combine the flavors.

We enjoyed this pasta with a nice crusty garlic bread. I enjoyed it enough that I really don’t think it needs accompaniment!


Salmon Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

This recipe started with these beautiful tomatoes from the farmers’ market. For some reason, this year’s tomatoes are some of the best I have ever had. Because of this, we have been picking up an abundance of them at the market and allowing them to guide my inspiration.

Start of by preheating the oven to 350*. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and squeeze very gently to release some of the juice and seeds. Next, with a spoon scoop out a small hole for the stuffing.

Now, for the stuffing. We had one lonely leftover salmon fillet in the fridge from dinner the night before. Not enough to feed two, right? WRONG! When repurposed into this stuffing, we ate well!

Break apart the salmon fillet until it is in very small pieces. Add about a half of a cup of panko bread crumbs. Any bread crumbs would probably work, but I love the crunch of panko! Also about one tablespoon of a good quality olive oil, salt and pepper get added in. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

All that scrumptious stuffing gets put into the hole you have hollowed out in the tomatoes. It is perfectly okay and actually preferred if the stuffing overflows slightly. Top with a little bit of extra panko and a drizzle of the olive oil.  Into the oven they  go!

After about twenty minutes, the tomatoes will soften and the tops will be nicely browned. The house will smell absolutely amazing at this point as well. This is how you will know they are ready. It is tempting to dive right in, but don’t do it! You will burn your tongue and not enjoy them as much as you should.

I served them up with more leftovers from dinner, an arugula, mint and watermelon salad. We were satisifed, and more importantly did not even think about the fact that we were eating leftovers!


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