3 mouthwatering tomato recipes

Cherry tomatoes on the vine

Normally, late August is the time to lament the end of tomato season in my garden. But thanks to a late start to summer this year, my tomato plants are just now starting to produce. This past week, I ate my weight in cherry tomatoes. I’m a “pluck it off the plant and pop it in my mouth” kind of tomato eater but sometimes a few lucky tomatoes actually make into my house. When that happens, I like to try delicious ways to incorporate them into dinner.

There are around a eleventy billion tomato recipes floating around the internet and, while most of them are OK, they often lack the wow factor that homegrown tomatoes deserve. So, when I’m looking to cook up a delicious and easy meal with my homegrown beauties, I turn to one place: The Smitten Kitchen blog. It’s clear that Deb Perelman, the mastermind behind the blog, has a deep love for tomatoes. Search for the word tomato in her blog and you get around 2000 results. For me, three of those recipes stand out from all the rest. If you are dealing with a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, try one of these recipes. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

  • Scalloped tomatoes with croutons – This is, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever eaten. And to think, I almost let my phobia of wet bread stop me from trying it. The trick for me is spreading the mixture out in a thin layer in a large casserole dish so the croutons dry out while baking. Do not skip the poached egg! 
  • Mediterranean baked feta with tomatoes – You can use any feta with this recipe, but I recommend treating yourself to a high quality hunk of the salty Greek treat. You won’t regret it.
  • Roasted tomatoes and cipollini – Simple ingredients and easy to make, this dish packs a huge amount of flavor. I serve mine over black beans.

Now, please excuse me while I run out to the local Greek store for feta. In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite way to use homegrown tomatoes.

Dealing with a surplus of garlic: 3 tasty ideas

Garlic bunch

 

Last fall, I planted 40 cloves of garlic in my herb garden. I spent the spring binge eating garlic scapes and a few days ago, I harvested 35 bulbs of garlic. (Some of the plants didn’t survive the winter.)

If you are wondering what I’m going to do with so much garlic, you aren’t alone. I’ve been wondering the same thing since last fall. Of course, I’ll give some bulbs away and put a few in storage for winter use. But I’ll still have quite a lot of garlic left after that.

I’ve been searching for recipes for recipes that call for a lot of garlic and I thought I’d share some of my favorite ideas.

  • 44 clove garlic soup – Using 44 cloves of garlic would certainly use up a large chunk of my stash. And I should be safe from vampires after eating this.
  • Creamy Roasted Garlic Butter – I might have drooled a little at the thought of slathering this on a big hunk of bread.  Bonus: I can make a bunch and freeze it!
  • Garlic Powder – Anytime I can break out my dehydrator, I’m a happy woman.

Do you grow garlic or have you received a large supply of garlic recently? How do you plan to use it? Share your ideas in the comments, I’d love to hear about them!

 

Garlic scape, basil and almond pesto

Garlic scape and basil pesto

Garlic scape, basil and almond pesto on Instagram

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you know that I have been somewhat obsessed by a culinary delight known as a garlic scape. Last fall, I planted around 30 cloves of hard neck garlic in my garden for the sole purpose of harvesting the scape.

The garlic scape is the flower that grows from the bulb of hard neck varieties of garlic. As it grows, it forms a graceful curl.

Harvesting the scape allows the plant to put its energy into growing the bulb. The scape has a very mild garlic flavor and can be used in any way that garlic can be used. I’ve roasted them whole with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, diced them to add flavor to roasted asparagus and I’ve frozen a bunch for future use.

So far, my favorite way to use them is in pesto. You can make pesto with only the garlic scape, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan. But, I love basil pesto so I incorporated basil as well. For a twist, I used almonds instead of pine nuts.

Garlic scape and basil pesto

10 to 12 garlic scapes, roughly chopped with the bulb removed

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup parmesan cheese

1/2  to 1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Add the first 4 ingredients to a food processor or blender. (I used my Vitamix.) Start blending on a low speed and gradually add the olive oil until the pesto is a creamy consistency. I ended up using the entire cup of olive oil but you may prefer less. If needed, increase the mixing speed to fully incorporate the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this immediately on pasta, as a spread for bruschetta or as a fancy homemade pizza sauce. It also freezes very well. I plan to use my left-over pesto the next time I make my quick and easy pesto salad.

 

 

Grill recipes Dad will love (and don’t involve hamburger, steak or hot dogs)

 Grill tongsImage credit: Grill Tongs by Steven Depolo, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

I don’t about your dad’s claims, but MY dad is King of the Grill. However, his repertoire is pretty limited as to what he is willing to cook (chicken and beef, with an occasional pork rib), and how he is willing to cook it (well done only thankyouverymuch).

This Father’s Day, I thought it might be nice to expose dad to some new “thrill of the grill” items that might inspire him to expand his horizons. So, I turned to the internet and found some outdoor grilling recipes for salads, main dishes and dessert!

Grilled Salad Recipes

  • Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad – I have never thought to grill lettuce. I’m not sure I’m sold on this one, but there is bacon and blue cheese involved so that might help convince me.
  • Grilled Potato Salad – I’ll bet the smoky char on the potatoes would add a nice flavor to this potato salad. This recipe also contains bacon, making dads everywhere very happy.
  • Grilled Avocado with Cherry Tomatoes – While I suppose this isn’t technically a salad, it’s is a nice meal starter. And me-oh, my-oh, grilled avocados sound wonderful.

Grilled Main Dish Recipes

Grilled Dessert Recipes

Do you like outdoor grilling? What have you tried?

Heart of palm salad with cherry tomato and avocado

Heart of Palm SaladIn November, I took a trip to Costa Rica.  While I went for the flora and fauna, I was pleasantly delighted by the food. Rice and beans for breakfast? Yes, please. Freshly juiced oranges, mangos, papayas, and pineapples any time I want? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I could have eaten my weight in avocados and fried plantains.

My first dinner in the country was the Talamanca salad at La Luz restaurant in The Alta Hotel. Talamanca, I learned from our friendly waiter, is a canton (or county) in Costa Rica, not an exotic fish or vegetable. The salad consisted of avocado, cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, a creamy basil yogurt dressing and the most romantic sounding vegetable I’ve heard of, heart of palm.

I obsessed about this salad the entire trip. As soon as I returned home and unpacked, I started looking for recipes online so I could recreate it. I found a recipe by Patricia Jinich on The Splendid Table that seemed very close, though it uses a bright lime vinaigrette instead of the basil-yogurt dressing.

I’ve made this salad several times and have made some minor changes along the way to suit my tastes. I cut the oil from 4 to 3 tablespoons and use only olive oil. I substitute basil for the oregano. I leave out the pumpkin seeds, although I’m sure they would add a delightful crunchy texture. Pine nuts might also work well.

This salad is light, refreshing and surprisingly filling. We’ve eaten this as a main course several times and have been completely satisfied.

Talamanca inspired heart of palm salad with tomato and avocado

Adapted from Avocado and Hearts of Palm Chop Chop Salad by Patricia Jinich via The Splendid Table

For the salad:

1/4 small red onion, finely chopped. Use less or leave out completely if you don’t like onions.

1 can whole hearts of palm, sliced into rounds

2 ripe avocados

1/2 a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed (or, for extra flavor, roast an ear of corn on the grill and remove the kernels)

For the vinaigrette:

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon brown sugar

Black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl and whisk it well.
  2. Add the chopped onions to the vinaigrette and set aside. I like to let the onions soak to remove some of their oniony bite. If you like that oniony flavor, then skip this step.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients, except the avocado.
  4. When you are ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette and onions over the salad and mix well. Divide the salad into bowls and then add the avocado. This will ensure the avocado is nice and green when you serve it. Keep one of the avocados to use with leftovers later.

Has a vacation ever inspired you to create a new dish at home? Let me know in the comments section. I’d love some new cooking (or vacation) ideas!