Tag Archives: Garlic

Spicy Tomato Salsa

11 Sep

9 dried chili peppers

Hot water

12 cups diced cored peeled tomatoes (1/2 inch/1 cm dice) * See How to Peel Tomatoes.

3 cups chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups tightly packed, finely chopped cilantro

15  cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped * If you like your salsas extra spicy, leave in all or a portion of the seeds and membranes.

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

3/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

1. In a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl, combine dried chilies with hot water to cover.  Weigh chilies down with a bowl or a weight to ensure they remain submerged, and soak until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain off half the water.  Transfer chilies and remaining water to a blender or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine chili puree, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, salt and hot pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa.  Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process both 8-ounce and pint jars for 15 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving, Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.

I haven’t been able to stop talking and thinking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles the year she and her family  committed to eating 100% local produce.  She talks about asparagus the way some men talk about women in fishnets; and I can tell you, I’ve been as excited to see asparagus in local markets after a long, food-dull winter as many are to see beer, nachos and Bears football today. Maybe the book has stuck with me because I share her utter excitement in juicy, sweet tomatoes after months of unripened, tasteless toms from god-knows-where at grocery stores, but really, it’s just that she makes it sound so incredibly easy and doable.  And it turns out, it is.

I don’t live on a farm and I share my yard with 6 other units (currently 11 people total) so although the City of Chicago does allow its residents to raise and keep both chickens and roosters on their property within city limits, I figured all 11 neighbors would not be welcoming to a little brood of chickens between the 3 grills,2 tables and my garden.  Space is tight as it is.  These were the sorts of things I thought immediately as she described ordering her little box of chickens and the variety of wild turkeys for her property.  Literally every can-not that I’ve come up with has been followed by a very easy solution in the city.  For example, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, which is 3 blocks from my house, sells free range, organic chickens from a farm in Wisconsin and there are nearly always local eggs and meat at the farmers markets (and there is a farmers market somewhere in this city every day of the week).  I haven’t fully boarded the all-local-bandwagon (it’s so hard to resist avocados in summer) but I would estimate that well over 80% of the items I’ve cooked at home this summer have been local.

So as fall is setting in, I’m contemplating how to continue supporting local farming and how to save the tastes of summer.  This weekend was momentous because I finally started jarring.  This was yet another task that I had found completely daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy and, between you and me, fun it can be.  I started with this salsa recipe but I also made a peach salsa that I hope to post soon.  It’s so convenient to have homemade salsa available when you need it and each of the individual ingredients shine in the homemade salsa rather than condensing into a homogenous stew like many of the store-bought options.  If it seems like too much work for you alone, get friends together to split the jars (this recipe makes 12 8-oz jars).  And I happen to know the local Ace Hardware on Lincoln Avenue is having a sale on jars and canners through the end of the month.  I’m happy to burst your can-not bubble, but no excuses,  you can do it too.

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Spaghetti with Two Tomato Toss

5 Feb

  • 1/2 of a 7- to 8-oz. jar  oil-packed dried tomatoes
  • 4 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 pints  red and/or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 tsp.  cracked black pepper or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 14- to 16-oz. pkg.  dried corn meal, multigrain, whole wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 4 oz.  bite-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini), halved
  • 1/2 cup  chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh basil

1. For sauce, drain dried tomatoes, reserving 1 tablespoon oil. Halve large tomatoes. In 12-inch skillet cook garlic in oil from tomatoes over medium heat until tender, about 1 minute. Add cherry and oil-packed tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until fresh tomato skins blister, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper and salt.

2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, with 1 tablespoon salt added to water, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water (*Using Pasta Water, see below). Drain pasta.

3. Toss spaghetti with tomato mixture in skillet, adding enough cooking water to thin sauce. Serve immediately with fresh mozzarella balls and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Better Homes & Gardens

I have been making this at least once a month for the last two years.  It is simply a staple at our house.  I can make it in less than 20 minutes but it packs a major flavor punch.  I love that all of the ingredients taste to fresh and no single ingredient overpowers any of the rest.  The citrusy tomatoes are complemented perfectly by the sweet mozzarella.  Also, I am a major sucker for any pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes.  Doesn’t get much better.

Baked Vegetable Lasagna

31 Jan

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  cup  chopped white onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1  (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 3  cups  finely chopped red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
  • 2  medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooking spray
  • 12  cooked lasagna noodles
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add white onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute or until golden. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in basil and oregano. Cool.

3. Combine ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tofu, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process for 10 seconds or until blended. Stir in green onions. Set aside.

4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, zucchini, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 3 noodles. Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture over noodles; top with 1 cup tofu mixture and 1 cup zucchini mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Spread remaining 3/4 cup tomato mixture over top. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until bubbly; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes.

Corrine Trang, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2010

I made this exactly as instructed except I do not have a food processor so I used a hand mixer instead.  Preparing each of the three layers takes quite a bit of time and effort so I would recommend making this dish on a night where you have a little extra time and are looking for a more involved cooking project.  Is the work worth the effort?  Yes and no.  This is not your standard lasagna which I knew going into it, but I was still disappointed.  Oddly enough, though, it was actually better leftover.  I don’t think the flavors had enough time to blend in the original cooking stages, but they really came together after a night in the fridge.  Also, if you’re a lasagna fiend looking for a healthier fix, this might be just the trick.

In case you’re weary of the tofu addition to the cheese (I was), no worries: the texture is actually incredibly similar to ricotta and, of course, it merely took on the flavor of the other cheeses in the cheese blend.

Vegetarian Country Captain

26 Jan

  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 1 1/2  cups  finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  curry powder
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  organic vegetable broth
  • 2  tablespoons  mango chutney
  • 2  tablespoons  whipping cream
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3  cups  cauliflower florets
  • 2  cups  frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • 3  cups  hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1/4  cup  dried currants
  • 1/4  cup  sliced almonds, toasted
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Sliced green onions (optional)


1. Heat a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add chopped onion, and cook for 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour, curry, and garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in chutney, cream, and salt. Add cauliflower and edamame; cook for 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve over rice, and top with currants and almonds. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, if desired.

Jeanne Kelley, Cooking Light, January 2011

This was the first I’d ever heard of Country Captain, but I love curry dishes so I had to try it.  According to Sam Sifton, Culture Editor at The New York Times, Country Captain is rumored to have originated in the Southeastern coastal region, carried across the Atlantic by spice traders back in the 17th or 18th century.  It was later popularized by Franklin D. Roosevelt who is said to have been a big fan.  The dish typically consists of pan-fried chicken and peppers in a curry sauce and is served over rice.

My guess is that the Southern die-hards would scoff at this vegetarian adaptation and I might agree that a chicken version would make for a more well-rounded and generally satisfying dish.  Nonetheless, I thought this was a nice go-to for weeknight, low-key cooking and it packs a major veggie punch which nobody can complain about in the Midwest, mid January.   I’m also always happy to find a new one-pot dinner idea.  I served the Country Captain over jasmine rice with almonds, cilantro, green onions and a dab of Greek yogurt.  I might also recommend adding a touch of cayenne pepper as it simmers to spice it up a little.

Sifton, Sam.  Demystifying Demystifying Country Captain, the one-dish wonder of the coastal South.  The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25food-t-000.html

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts

21 Jan
  • 1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1/4  cup  chopped blanched hazelnuts
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 4  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3  (4-ounce) packages presliced exotic mushroom blend
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh sage
  • 2  ounces  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped chives

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid.

2. While water for pasta comes to a boil, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts to pan; sauté for 3 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add garlic and mushrooms to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Sauté mushroom mixture for 5 minutes; stir in sage. Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; toss well to combine. Remove from heat; top with cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and chives.

Cooking Light, January 2011

I made this recipe exactly as called for except I used finely chopped green onions instead of chives because that’s what I had on-hand and I used 70% portabella and 30% white button mushrooms because that’s what Trader Joes had on-hand.  I was weary of this recipe when I initially read the ingredient list, but the flavors could not complement on another better.  The mushrooms and hazelnuts give this pasta a savory, earthy flavor and the sage and Parmesan add a piney, floral finish, the combination of which reminded me of a stroll through the woods on a breezy, sunny spring day.  It is pure heaven and – I would guess – a vegetarian’s delight with its hearty, earthy flavors.

This is, however, not the pasta for those who like super saucy pasta dishes.  It is an oil-based sauce and Tom didn’t love it because he said it was too “dry”.

Just a tip – If you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, it is actually very easy to do it yourself.  Simply roast the nuts on a baking pan for about 10 minutes.  Give them a few minutes to cool and then rub several nuts at a time (yeah, yeah, that’s what she said) inside a paper towel.  The skins will fall right off.   It is important to use blanched hazelnuts rather than raw as the raw nuts will have a different flavor and texture.

Serve with additional shaved Parmesan – Perfect!