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Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

This post is really evidence of how well I’m progressing along my journey out of picky eater-dome. I used to hate eggs. I would eat them from time to time because they were part of a few family traditions, but I really didn’ t like them. They were bland and mushy, the thing I had to suffer through before I could scarf my bacon and cinnamon bun. When I studied abroad, I was on a really tight budget, but, being the devout lover of breakfast that I am, I sought to find a way to have hearty breakfasts on the cheap, and eggs were the answer. Somewhere along the line, I began to more than tolerate them, and now I really like them.

Tomatoes, even more so than eggs, were the enemy. I couldn’t eat them without gagging, even bright jewel red cherry tomatoes. While I’m still a little iffy about raw tomatoes, less and less cooking time is required to make them palatable, and I can’t get enough of them when they are roasted.

Granted, tomatoes and eggs are pretty benign stuff. Still, the fact that I would willingly make a dish that incorporates both elements and–GASP!–enjoy them, really shows me how far I’ve come. I couldn’t be prouder. 

 

 

Caprese Frittata

  • 1/2 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large leaves of basil, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 C fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. milk or cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Heat a medium sized oven-safe skillet with a metal, not plastic handle over medium heat. Spray generously with cooking spray and sautee tomatoes until just softened, about 2 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add salt, pepper, cheese, and basil and mix well (reserve a handful of cheese and basil). Pour over tomatoes and raise temperature to medium high, cooking until frittata is set, but the top remains raw.
  3. When mixture is almost cooked, sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook under the broiler, set to high, until the fritatta is cooked and the surface is brown. Do not leave unattended or it will burn. Remove from pan, sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.

(Total time: 15 minutes. Servings: 6 slices, which really serves 3-4 people) 

Corn Muffin Recipe

My favorite corn bread recipe is adapted only the slightest bit from this recipe for Homesteader Cornbread from Allrecipes.com. All I do is bump the sugar up to 3/4 of a cup, because I like my corn bread about a step away from cake. To make this into 12 muffins, I just halved the recipe and cooked them for 20 minutes. The toothpick won’t come out totally clean, but I promise you they’re done. This recipe is amazing, but the secret is definitely that overcooking will kill your bread, and that’s no fun for anyone.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 5 minutes. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

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The first time I ever encountered pesto was back in high school, during choir rehearsal. We had been preparing for our holiday concert all day and we were allowed a brief dinner break before our warm-up. Victoria Robinson (who possessed a pretty sophisticated palate for her age, in retrospect) was eating this weird looking green paste out of a Tupperware container. She said it was called pesto and that she had made it herself. She offered me a taste, saying it was really good, and I declined, in a manner that I can only pray could be described as polite, despite my deep panic that I would not be able to get away without tasting it.

At the time, I had an overwhelming fear of tasting something and disliking it. While I’d downgrade my fear to a reluctance these days, when I was sixteen, it verged on a legitimate phobia. Coupled with my strong then-aversion anything green, there was no way I was going to taste that stuff. It’s really a shame, because I had no clue what I was missing.

Today, I love pesto. There’s something about the fruity olive oil, zesty garlic, and almost ginger-y basil, so simple, yet so close to culinary perfection. I don’t get to eat it often, but, each time I do, I wonder aloud why I don’t do it more often. Pesto really couldn’t be easier to make. It comes together in a matter of minutes and doesn’t even need to be heated–it’s every bit as delicious straight out of the blender and cold. 

The other great thing about pesto is that it is easily adjusted to your unique tastes. I kept the cheese at a minimum, for example, and left out the traditional pine nuts (you can also use walnuts). I also made my pesto excessively garlicky–and when I say excessively, I really and truly mean it. If you aren’t absolutely obsessed with garlic–like live and breathe for it and can eat it pretty much raw–I would strongly advise you to cut back by one clove. I thought I had ruined the pesto when I tasted it for seasoning, but it was spicy perfection when combined with the pasta, nothing a true garlic enthusiast couldn’t handle.

The gnocchi isn’t quite as easy as the pesto, but it’s not as scary as people make it out to be. If you can bake pastry, you can make gnocchi. It takes a while to get a feel for gnocchi making, but, once you do, it’s a piece of cake. I managed to get the pesto, the pasta, and the salad made in under an hour–not too steep a price for an impressive meal made entirely from scratch. The tomato and mozzarella salad (also know as “tomatoes and mootz” around here) showcases some great seasonal flavors  and couldn’t be easier. Add some hearty bread (like this beautiful organic wheat loaf I got from Amy’s Bread this afternoon) and you have a great summer-y meal that’s sure to please your inner Italian. 

Cute little gnocchi pillows waiting to be boiled

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

  • 2 medium sized russet potatoes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  1. Clean, dry, and perforate potatoes. Microwave approximately 8 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and insides are fork-tender. Slit, set aside, and let cool. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the insides into a medium bowl, careful to remove any errant bits of skin. Add egg, salt, and pepper and mix until combined.
  3. Stir in half the flour, adding more if needed. When mixture comes together into a soft dough, empty contents of bowl onto a well-floured surface. Knead until dough feels smooth, pliable, and has lost most of its stickiness, adding as much flour as needed to achieve desired consistency. Depending on the weather and the potatoes, you may not need the full cup or you may need more.
  4. Separate dough into 4 equal parts and dust work surface with more flour. Working with one lump at a time, use your fingertips to roll the dough into long, even snakes, approximately half an inch in diameter. Cut each snake into 1 inch pieces and set aside. You may also choose to shape gnocchi on a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork, but the little pillow shapes are infinitely easier.
  5. Add your cut gnocchi to the pot of water. When the gnocchi are cooked, they will rise right to the surface. Remove them with a spider or slotted spoon. Do not worry about getting them bone dry, as the starchy pasta water will heat your sauce and help it adhere to the gnocchi. Toss with butter or desired sauce and enjoy.

(Total cook and prep time: approximately 40 minutes. Serves 4)

Basil Pesto Sauce

  • 1 1/2 C fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/2-3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1. Combine basil, garlic, cheese, salt, and 1/4 C oil in blender or food processor. Pulse to combine. (A note about garlic: for more consistent flavor, roughly chop or grate garlic on a rasp grater before adding to blender or food processor)
  2. Remove lid and evaluate consistency. If you prefer a thicker consistency, add remaining 1/4 C of oil and pulse to combine. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add more oil as desired. Sauce, when finished, should be smooth and even textured.

(Total time: 15 minutes. Should be enough for a pound of pasta–a little bit goes a long way)

 

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

  • 3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 whole ball of fresh mozzarella
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice tomatoes into quarter-inch slices and arrange on serving platter.
  2. Slice mozzarella into similar sized and shaped pieces and place on top of tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle with fresh basil, cut or torn into relatively small pieces, salt, and pepper.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and, if desired, balsamic vinegar.

(Total time: 10 minutes. Serves: 4-6)

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