Tag Archives: tomato

Sausage & Tortellini Soup

14 Jul

This dish is a total home run. Adapted from a Kitchn recipe, it takes about 30 minutes to cook, holds really well over a few days and is devoured by everyone who’s eaten it. I make mine with mild Italian sausage to keep it edible for the foodNURDling but it would be tasty with a spicy sausage, too! Another bonus: it freezes well so you can toss some in the freezer for another meal down the road.*

Serves 2-3 with leftovers.

Ingredients

Splash of canola oil
3-4 hot or mild Italian sausages
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2c dry red wine or chicken stock
1 28oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
2c low-sodium chicken stock
1tb balsamic vinegar
1ts brown sugar
Parmesan rind or a few heaping tablespoons of grated parm
1 package fresh or frozen tortellini
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pan to medium high. Add in the sausages and sear, 3-4 minutes. Flip the sausages over sear the other side for 3-4 minutes. Once the sausages have browned a bit, start breaking them up with a wooden spoon into small pieces. This allows the sausages to caramelize instead of steam. Once broken up and cooked a bit more, remove the sausages with a slotted spoon to another bowl, leaving behind the fat.

2. Reduce the heat and add in the onions and generous pinch of salt, sauteing until soft, roughly 6-8 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook til fragrant, 15-20 seconds. Add the red wine (or chicken stock), turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Scrape up the delicious little bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.

3. Add in the canned tomatoes and their liquid. Using kitchen scissors, cut up the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Toss in the stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and parm. Stir all together and then add a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the whole thing to a boil and add in the tortellini. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the spinach to the pot and stir. Once the spinach has wilted, taste your soup and add any salt and/or pepper to taste. (If you’re using the parm rind, you can remove it at this point.) Serve with a bit more parm and a drizzle of olive oil.

*if you find that the leftovers are a bit thick, you can add a bit of water when you are reheating.

How I Learned to Love the Garden

27 Aug

I have always appreciated food though, admittedly, I have learned to appreciate it on new levels in the last ten years. I’ve certainly always enjoyed eating and reaping the rewards of others’ hard work; now, I understand just how much work goes into getting that food to my hungry mouth.  It’s not like I wasn’t exposed to food production as a child: my dad maintained a wonderful garden in our backyard that had carrots, beets, tomatoes, peas, beans, chives, rhubarb, cucumber and whatever else he felt like planting (like the year he tried corn. I kept hoping for ghost baseball players to appear. Sadly, neither the corn nor the ghosts deigned to show). We also had cherry, pear and apricot trees along with a raspberry bush and grapevines. Homegrown fruits and veggies we did not lack. We also had a walnut tree but in the 20+ years we lived in our house, no one ate a single, solitary walnut. We’d find them on the ground with six tiny, squirrel bites taken out of them. Tree rats are the worst. What I lacked was the interest in cultivating them. My parents would send me into the yard to pick whatever was ripe at the time and I’d inevitably come back with about 50% of what needed to be picked. What can I say? I was more interested in something SUPER IMPORTANT like whether or not Zack and Kelly‘s eternal love would be torn asunder by the evil Jeff.

Fast forward to 2007. I am now living in an apartment with J and ruing the lack of outdoor space to grow my own food. We would buy basil plants that would, inevitably, wither and die in record time. We did see some success planting mint in my dad’s garden. So much success, in fact, that the mint spread over the next few months and by the following summer, was rather intrusively making its way into the rest of the garden. That was bolstering, though. “I can actually grow things,” I remarked as my dad looked on, happy I’d taken an interest in gardening but dismayed by the herb that was now embedded in the chives and beans and peas and…

Jump to 2012. J and I are house hunting. We come across a house with a slightly wild but charming front yard and an absolutely lovely backyard with lush, red cherry tomatoes. “This has potential,” I think to myself excitedly. The sight of those gorgeous tomatoes has stirred something inside me and I can imagine spending quiet afternoons planting and weeding and watering and enjoying the fruits of my labour. The day we took possession of the house, I went straight to the yard and plucked one of the tomatoes from the vine and popped it in my mouth. “That’s it. I’m growing everything I can back here.”

Next spring, my dad arrived at the house with tomato seed packets and a container with soil pods to get them started. I took a surprising amount of delight planting the little seeds and watching them grow into full blown…seedlings. My dad planted them in one of the gardens and I tended to those things like I tended to foodNURDling. By August we had fresh, plump cherry, Early Girl and beefsteak tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

Wee tomatoes.

 

Emboldened by my success, I started to hatch plans for summer 2014. I planted beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, green, red and jalapeno peppers, basil, lemon thyme, rosemary and mint. When each ripened, I happily picked ALL of the fruits and vegetables and gave each to the foodNURDling. As he happily gobbled down cucumber and tomato slices, I called my mom:

“Mom! A thing I grew is eating a thing I grew!” I almost wanted to cry.

It was A Moment for me. Growing food for me and my family. This is how I learned to love my garden.

Portobello, Walnut & Goat Cheese Salad

23 Aug

As I mentioned in my last post, I received a copy of refresh for my birthday. I have been making my way through it, greatly enjoying the results. After a particularly meat-heavy dinner on Tuesday, I thought it would be a good idea to eat a little lighter the next night. I was craving crunch and when I saw the portobello & walnut salad I knew it would work for me. As I often do, I made a couple of changes to suit my tastes but it was a good jumping off point. It came together in 15 minutes – including prep time – which is a big bonus on top of it being a healthy vegetarian option. (To make it vegan, just omit the cheese.)

Serves 2.

Ingredients

4 portobellos, cleaned & sliced
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, scored on the top
1/2 c walnut pieces
2 tb extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greens
2 tb balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
4 c greens
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium. Toss in the mushrooms and the vinegar. Sauté until the mushrooms soften, roughly 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Add in the walnuts and scored tomatoes. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes start to split.
3. Split the greens over two plates & drizzle with olive oil. Place the cooked mushrooms, walnuts and tomatoes over the greens and top with crumbled goat cheese.

p, w & c salad

Curried Chick Pea Rice Bowl

7 Aug

I received the cookbook refresh for my birthday and I’ve been debating what healthy, vegan recipe to make first. The book contains a variety of recipes from breakfast through dessert, sauces, shakes and more. Finally settling on the Energy Rice Bowl, I set to work prepping the curried garbanzo filling. (side note: I really wanted to name our dog “Garbanzo.” J was having none of it. Buzzkill.)  I adapted the recipes a bit to utilize what I had on hand also to my taste but it’s essentially the same. It’s filling, it’s healthy, it’s vegan and it’s great. Once the prep is done, you toss everything in a pan and in less than 10 minutes, dinner is ready.  Hard to argue with that!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tb cumin
1 tb salt
1 tb turmeric
1 tb oregano
4 c cooked chick peas, rinsed
1/2 c tomato paste
2 c cooked rice
1/2 English cucumber, peeled & diced
handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 green onions or 1/2 red onion, finely diced
4 tb tahini
drizzle of Sriracha

Directions

1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Add the vegetables and spices and cook until soft.
2. Mash the chick peas and toss into the pan with the tomato paste. Stir together and cook until heated through.

Cooking away...

Cooking away…

3. Serve over rice and top with cucumber, tomato and diced onion. Drizzle with tahini and Sriracha.

curried banzo 2

Chicken Cacciatore

11 Feb

Me: “So what do you feel like for dinner this weekend?”
J: “Chicken cacciatore.”
Me: “…wow. You were prepared for that question. OK – chicken cacciatore it is!”

I haven’t made this dish in years, but it was one of the first dishes I made by myself. To my recollection, it took me something like two hours to make it but it came out well and I was going to add it to my repertoire. Fast forward six years and I’m making it for…the second time. So many recipes, so little time!

Anyway, here’s the recipe I use. It’s a little spicy and very hearty – hope you enjoy!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

6 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts
1/2 c flour
salt & pepper
3 tb extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1 c mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 ts dried oregano
2 ts chili flakes

Directions

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. 
2. Heat the oil in a large pan – I used my dutch oven – to medium-high and brown the meat on all sides (roughly 5 minutes per side). You may need to do it in two batches if you can’t fit all the chicken in a single layer. 
3. Remove the chicken from the pan and lower the heat to medium. Add in the garlic, onion, peppers and mushrooms and saute until the onions have softened. Add in the wine and let reduce for a few minutes.
4. Toss in the tomatoes with their juices, broth, oregano and chili flakes. Stir, then nestle the chicken pieces into the mixture so that they are covered. Bring to a simmer and then leave it alone for 30 minutes.

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5. Remove the chicken from the pan and stir the sauce. Season to taste and then pour over the chicken pieces.
6. Serve over pasta, polenta or rice.

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Moroccan Tomato Soup

12 Nov

It’s November in Toronto. No offense to the November babies out there, but it’s kind of a miserable month. It’s cold. It’s rainy. It’s generally kinda dreary. So what’s one to do to combat this downer of a month? Get in the kitchen and cook up something warming and delicious to make you forget about the blah-itude outside! This Moroccan tomato soup fits the bill and then some: it’s finished with creamy peanut butter that lends it a lovely richness.

This is a very balanced recipe, with no ingredient overwhelming another. If you like your food on the spicier side, add a little more cayenne than what’s called for here.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 280z can crushed tomatoes
1 pinch of cinnamon
2 tb brown sugar
2 tb chili powder
1 ts cumin
1/2 ts black pepper
1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts cayenne pepper
1/4c tomato paste
1 tb red wine vinegar
3/4 c creamy peanut butter

Directions

1. Toss the onions, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste and 2 cups of water into a slow cooker. (Or a big pot set on low on the stove. Whatever you’ve got!)
2. Stir in the cinnamon, sugar, chile powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.


3. Cook on low for 5 – 8 hours.
4. Add in the peanut butter and, using an immersion blender, purée until smooth. (If it’s a bit thick, add in a little water and purée again.)

Mussels in Tomato-Garlic Sauce

21 Mar

I count myself really lucky to have a great relationship with the seafood store in my ‘hood (Avenue Road Seafood). It doesn’t take much: just show up and ask a question or two and you’ll feel like you have a great friend in there who will never lead you astray. I popped in on Saturday and ordered two pounds of mussels. I got an enthusiastic, “No problem!” and a few minutes later had a bag of beautiful, already-cleaned mussels on ice. (I wasn’t going to cook them til the next day. It’s best to keep them on ice if you’re not cooking them right away. NOT in water.)

As always, if you find a mussel that’s open before you cook it, discard it. If you find a closed one after it’s been cooked, discard it.

I used a decent amount of chili flakes in my recipe, but feel free to cut back if that’s not your thing.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

3 tb canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tb parsley, chopped
2 c canned tomatoes w/ thick puree* (I actually used leftover tomato sauce that was in the fridge, but this will work!)
1 ts dried thyme
2 ts chili flakes or to taste
1/2 ts salt
1/2 ts black pepper
2 lbs mussels, cleaned

Directions

1. Heat the oil to medium heat in a large pot with a tightly-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.
2. Add in the tomatoes/sauce, parsley, thyme, chili flakes,  salt and pepper. Stir together, reduce the heat and cover, simmering for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Turn up the heat a bit and add the  mussels. Cover the pot and let them cook for 7-9 minutes, shaking up the pot occasionally.
4. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the tasty liquid in the bowl – don’t let any of that go to waste!

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