Archive for the 'tomato' Category



I know a recipe is good if I’m still thinking about it three weeks later. Yesterday I picked up six ears of corn at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market because I needed to make this again. Sweet corn kernels, limas, garbanzos, tomatoes tossed with tarragon and a champagne vinaigrette. It’s so amazingly addictive. Hands down, this is my favorite find this summer.

I adapted this from a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  There is a lot of wiggle room here — grill the corn, or boil it. Use other varieties of beans, such as fava, or use different herbs. But please, do include tarragon. The hint of licorice and the sweet tang of the vinaigrette is what really make this work.

I took some of this over to my friend Christine, who had twin boys five months ago. Yes, it’s taken me five months to take food to her. I also took her my mom’s chicken tetrazzini — 80’s comfort food at its best.  Better late than never, right?

And few things are better than summer veggies in late July. Sweet corn, multi-colored tomatoes, fragrant herbs. Before I turn you loose with this recipe, know that this may take longer to make than you’d expect. Plan for 45 minutes if you use corn on the cob. The only problem here is you’ll end up with more vinaigrette than you’ll need. This is best at room temperature. I can say with near certainty that it’s nothing like the succotash you grew up with.

adapted from

For the Champagne vinaigrette:

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T Champagne vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper


6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
3 to 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
10 to 12 cherry or tear-drop tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 T chopped fresh basil
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, combine the grapeseed oil and olive oil in a measuring cup with a spout. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and white pepper. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Bring a pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil corn for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Remove kernels with a paring knife, running the knife down the cob vertically. Put corn in a large bowl. Boil edamame and lima beans according to package instructions.

In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, chickpeas, lima beans, vine-ripened and teardrop tomatoes, basil, parsley, tarragon and onion. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serve with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Serves 6 to 8.


Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

The kitchen sink became clogged over the weekend. For two days we couldn’t use it. After spending what seemed like hours plunging it, pouring boiling water down the drain, and trying to fix the problem with a baking soda and vinegar solution, we called the plumber. Turns out the problem wasn’t a simple clog, but our 100-year-old pipe that had corroded and leaked beneath our basement floor. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but the long and short of it is this:  It’s now fixed.

Before the sink debacle, I went to the Tower Groves Farmers Market for one last tomato fix. Our tomato plants have stopped producing. It’s the tail end of the season. So, I stocked up one last time. I grabbed a mix of heirlooms, red onion and carrots for this cream of tomato soup. I’ve been wanting to try it since Christmas, when I received the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s almost cruel to receive a cookbook in December with this recipe, knowing it will be months before tomatoes would be in season. Cream of tomato soup has been on my to-do list ever since.

And let me tell you, it is awesome. The soup is smooth with several layers of flavor. There’s the hint of basil and garlic. The sweetness of the carrots enhances the tomatoes.  The onion adds a subtle bite. It would be easy to skip the Parmesan croutons, but don’t cut this corner. They’re essential. They absorb the soup and they add crunch. Yum!

Continue reading ‘Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup’


Eggplant Caponata

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? More eggplant??

Eggplants are like bay leaves. I use them all the time but don’t really know what they taste like. As long as they’re in season, they’re on our counter.

All summer, I’ve wanted to make caponata, a Sicilian dish that’s usually served as a salad or relish. There are a gazillion variations of this, but generally it’s comprised of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, capers, olives, nuts, anchovies, vinegar and olive oil (I skip the anchovies). It’s one of those foods that improves with time. You make it, put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more, and then serve.

This one has almonds and pine nuts, which lend a nice crunch. The flavors are strong. I prefer it on toasted bread, but you could eat it as a relish or salad. Serve at room temperature.

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Pasta Caprese

It’s tomato season. And that means raw tomato sauces.

Among my favorites: cherry tomatoes marinated in balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and tossed with arugula. Romas diced and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Heirlooms chopped and mixed with olives, red wine vinegar and majoram. There are hundreds of ways.

A few days ago, I used  romas from our garden and several heirlooms from our Fair Shares box to make this rustic raw tomato sauce. If you like caprese salads, you’ll like this. And if you have little time to make dinner, you’ll thank me for it, too.

It comes together in less than a half hour, and the ingredient list is small. The success depends on quality, like so many recipes that rely on a handful of fresh ingredients. Tomatoes must be in season. Your olive oil must be good enough to stand alone. Your mozzarella must be fresh, packed in water.

This is a nice way to use summer tomatoes. I ate the leftovers last week for lunch. It’s great at room temperature, or even cold, as a pasta salad.

Pasta Caprese
Cook’s Illustrated, July 2007

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 small shallot, minced fine
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut in 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound penne, or other tubular pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes longer than 45 minutes.

While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on a plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 7.


Orzo with Feta and Cherry Tomatoes

This past month is a blur. The life adjustment, the pace of getting out the door in the morning, the lack of spare time — it’s like a race. Still, I’m trying my best to make time for a few simple splurges. Long showers. Morning runs. Good food.

The past few Sundays I’ve made batch recipes that Jeff and I could eat for lunch during the week. When you’re in the news business like we are, eating out doesn’t happen often (too many deadlines), and cafeteria food in our building doesn’t always cut it. This orzo salad with cherry tomatoes and feta definitely did.

I admit that finding the time to cook while working full-time with a baby is hard. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to food. Seasonal ingredients are a must.  Processed food — very rarely. I dig my heels in when it comes to these things. That means almost everything we eat is fresh and homemade, and making it can be time consuming.

This orzo salad is a quickie, about 30 minutes from start to finish. And it’s amazing.  The tomatoes, feta, lemon zest, parsley, need I say more? It’s tangy, salty, bursting with flavor. The pine nuts give it a nice crunch. It’s almost as addictive as the kale and bulgur from a few weeks ago.

Continue reading ‘Orzo with Feta and Cherry Tomatoes’


Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

We’re finally settling into a routine. It’s been four weeks since I returned to work, and two weeks since our 10-month-old started daycare. It’s not as crazy around here as it was 14 days ago. Still, finding time to cook during the week is tough.  Making this fabulous tart on a Tuesday night felt like a coup.

I must disclose that I did come home from work early. I picked Gabi up from daycare around 2, stopped at the store, put her down for a nap and made the tart dough.  By 5:30 the tart was ready to pop in the oven. It was about then that two of my favorite people — Colleen and Don — knocked on the door. They were passing through town on their way from Providence, RI to Seattle. They’re about to move to Hawaii, lucky them, and they were staying  the night with us.

I put the tart in the oven a couple hours later, when Gabi was down for the night. We ate it with a green salad and crisp white wine.

The tomatoes and onions are sweet, the crust is flaky and buttery, and the goat cheese lends offers tome tang. Make this tart once and you’ll want to make it again and again.

Continue reading ‘Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart’


Chipotle Tomato Salsa

I plucked our first tomato on Sunday. I watched it turn red for days, giving me some hope for our garden that’s become an overgrown weed patch. I held it to my nose and inhaled. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you know the smell. It’s like the sun. It needed to be in some kind of a salsa. Why this one? I love fresca salsas. But this one, a cooked salsa, stands out. Its flavor is deep, vibrant, and slightly smoky.

I made it to go along with a one-pot Cuban chicken meal. The recipe will appear on this blog in a day or two, whenever I get a few seconds to copy it down. I chopped up our lovely garden tomato and a few more from the market and made this salsa. It’s one of my faves, and Jeff’s too. He’s a Texan so consider that a salsa gold stamp of approval.

Blackening the tomatoes, garlic and onion adds a touch of carmelization. The chipotle adds some terrific smoky heat. For more heat, simply add more chipotle. Green flecks of cilantro cool it down. By the way, chipotles will keep for months in the refrigerator. Just empty the can and adobo sauce into a small container, put a lid on it, and store.

Chipotle Tomato Salsa
Gourmet, September 2007

1 pound tomatoes
1/2 large white onion, cut into 4 wedges
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Heat a dry large nonreactive skilled (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic, turning with tongs, until all are blackened in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Puree in a blender with chiles and 3/4 teaspoon salt (use caution when blending hot foods). Return to skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then stir in cilantro.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups


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