Tag Archives: Tomato

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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Easy Summer Pico de Gallo

4 Jul

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-2 jalapenos (depending on your spice-tolerance/preference), seeded and finely chopped

3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1 lime

2 avocados

1. Combine chopped tomatoes, red onion, mango, jalapeno and cilantro in a medium-sized bowl.  Add fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lime.  Stir to combine.  Add salt to taste.  Place mixture in the refrigerator until ready to serve, preferably overnight.

2. Before serving, add chopped avocados and stir to combine.  Serve with tortilla chips.

I have to give primary credit for this recipe to Mary McMullin who asked me to come up with a salsa to serve with simple grilled chicken breasts, using her 2 mangos, a few tomatoes and an avocado.  I insisted that we add onion and jalapeno to spice it up and have since added the lime which helps to preserve the ingredients and adds a nice citrusy splash.  I just served this on a camping trip in Michigan.  I divided the batch into two servings, tossed them in the cooler and added 1 avocado per serving to keep it fresh.  Great way to use those farmer’s market tomatoes and serve a big crowd.  You can also mix it up by adding different peppers such as any bell pepper or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

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.

Fish Tostadas with Chili-Lime Cream

19 Jan

  • 1 lb.  fresh tilapia or cod fillets
  • 1/2 tsp.  chili powder
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1/2 cup  sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp.  garlic powder
  • 8 6-inch  tostada shells
  • 2 cups  shredded cabbage mix
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup  cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
  • Bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)

1. Preheat broiler. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon of the chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. For chili-lime cream, in bowl squeeze 2 teaspoons juice from half the lime. Stir in sour cream, garlic powder, and remaining chili powder; set aside. Cut remaining lime half in wedges for serving.

2. Place fish on unheated greased broiler rack; tuck under thin edges. Place shells on baking sheet on lowest rack. Broil fish 4 inches from heat 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness, until fish flakes with fork. Break in chunks. Serve tostadas with cabbage, chili-lime cream, avocado, tomatoes, lime, and pepper sauce. Serves 4.

Better Homes & Gardens

I’ve been making this recipe at least once a month for nearly two years.  It takes no more than 15-20 minutes start to finish.  It’s incredibly flexible – you can spice up the sauce, make it a taco instead, sub in different kinds of fish (although I recommend sticking with a mild white variety), use different toppings.  The possibilities are literally endless, but this is a good starting point.   I strongly recommend this for those of you who love fish but are entertaining others who are weary of “fishy” flavors.  It demonstrates the wide variety of potential uses of fish while not overpowering its flavor.  I recommend serving with my Spanish Rice recipe.


Chickpeas with Spinach and Smoky Paprika

13 Dec

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced onions

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup organic vegetable broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 (9-ounce) package fresh spinach

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic to pan; cover and cook for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in smoked paprika and cook for 1 minute.  Add white wine, vegetable broth, and tomatoes; bring to a biol.  Add chickpeas; reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens slightly (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in parsley and vinegar.

Yield: 10 servings

Cooking Light, December 2010

I made this for the holiday party we had at our house over the weekend.  It takes about 20 minutes total, but only uses one pot, so it’s great for a last minute snack at your house.  Perfect for me considering our sinks were backed up until 5:30 p.m. the night of the party, at which time an awesome plumber from Amazing Plumbing came and saved my party.  The only substitution I made was using balsamic vinegar instead of sherry vinegar because I simply couldn’t find it.  But it tasted great none-the-less (although it was easily overshadowed by the Date and Walnut Cheese Ball – see post).

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine

8 Dec

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fettuccine

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces Italian turkey sausage

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups baby arugula leaves

2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid.

2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove casings from sausage.  Break sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently to crumble.  Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; cover and cook 2 minutes.  Mash tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to break them up.  Cover pan; reduce heat to low, and cook 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Add pasta, reserved 2/3 cup cooking liquid, and arugula; toss well.  Sprinkle with pecorino Romano.

Yield: 4 servings

Cooking Light, December 2010

This recipe is incredibly quick and easy.  I made it exactly as-is, adding only a pinch of oregano and basil to the sauce.  It is simple, but tasty.  I have made several similar recipes (see Two-Tomato Toss Spaghetti), but the sausage really adds a ton of flavor.  I think you could sub spinach for arugula if you prefer and it also might be nice with a few mushrooms or olives added.  Personally, I’m just happy to have another recipe using arugula because I always get stuck with half a bag and nothing to use it for.