Tag Archives: tomatoes

Refreshing Tomato Salad

Let me say right off the bat that if you don’t like the taste of mint you can leave it out to this salad. My friend Doll does not like anything with mint so before she makes the “ewww” sound after reading the recipe I want her and all mint haters to know the mint is optional. Doll claims to be a southern girl but how can she really be southern if she doesn’t like the taste of mint. Come on! Mint julpes are a southern staple. At least where my family comes from and they are southern.

Hubby and I both like the flavor of mint in salads. I think it adds a refreshing taste to quite a few dishes. My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip and I love an ice cold peppermint patty. The creation of my Refreshing Tomato Salad was my welcome spring and summer gift to the family. It is packed with olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, artichokes and of course Tomatoes!

I was fortunate this year to have a good crop of tomatoes so I was able to add our homegrown tomatoes to this salad. I have not tried growing cucumbers yet but maybe next year I will. I prefer English cucumbers because regular cucumbers have too many hard seeds. But, that is just my preference. Use whatever type of cucumber you like or have handy.

During these last days of summer I have been making this recipe a little more frequently. It is always sad to see the warm weather turn a little cooler because it means the end of short sleeves, sandals and shorts. I for one will miss the warm days but I also look forward to the beauty of fall weather. Good thing for me my Refreshing Tomato Salad is delicious no matter what the weather may be.

Refreshing Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

4 – 6 small tomatoes large dice cut

1 English cucumber diced

1 jar marinated artichokes drained and slightly chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup Italian black olives

¼ cup olive oil

juice from ½ lemon

½ tbsp red onion diced small

½ tsp chopped fresh mint (optional)

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve as a side dish or add a little bow tie pasta to make it a meal.

 

 

 

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Roasted Tomatoes and Artichokes Pizza

Roasted Tomatoes and Artichokes Pizza

Homemade pizzas don’t have to be boring. By boring, I mean using only the basics like pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni. I have nothing against a basic pizza. But, when I make pizzas at home I like to pair different veggies or add chicken or prosciutto instead of pepperoni. I also substitute pesto for the pizza sauce.

One of my favorite homemade pizzas is Roasted Tomatoes and Artichokes Pizza. Roasting the tomatoes brings out the natural sweetness of the fruit. Yes, tomatoes are classified as a fruit not a vegetable. Of course, there is an ongoing debate about that but it really doesn’t matter. All I know is that freshly roasted tomatoes are delicious. Combining the artichokes with the roasted tomatoes just increases the deliciousness of the pizza. I have tried different types of tomatoes in this recipe and depending on the tomato the flavor is slightly different.

Ultimately, I prefer using Caperelli tomatoes but I also enjoy Roma tomatoes on this pizza. Hot house or beefsteak tomatoes don’t fair well with this recipe but in a pinch use whatever you have available.

Like all pizzas this one is versatile. Add roasted chicken for protein or even pepperoni if you feel a pizza isn’t really a pizza without it. For my vegetarian friends, I think you will want to add my Roasted Tomatoes and Artichoke pizza to your list of homemade pizza ideas.

Roasted Tomatoes and Artichokes Pizza

Ingredients:

2 containers Caperelli tomatoes quartered

1 jar marinaded artichokes

1 small red onion sliced thin

1pkg ready made pizza crust (Trader Joe’s)

1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese shredded

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp basil or tomato pesto (optional)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

¼ tsp onion powder

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place tomatoes, artichokes and red onions on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, black pepper and onion powder. Gently toss to coat veggies with olive oil and seasonings. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until veggies are roasted. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 – 5 minutes.

Pre Pizza Crust:

Place pizza crust ona baking sheet and spread crust with pesto. Sprinkle a little cheese over the pesto. Spread roasted tomatoes, artichokes and red onions over the cheese then sprinkle with remaining cheese, dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Place in the oven and bake until cheese melts and turns slightly golden brown (approximately 5 minutes).

Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 minute then slice.

 

 

 

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Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin

Eating with your eyes is just as important as tasting with your tongue. I know I have mentioned this in the past but it is worth mentioning again. If you are going to prepare a dish for family, friends or yourself, you want it to look appealing. Combining different colors is an easy way to create visual beauty with food. This recipe is a nice blend of green, red and orange. Layering the vegetables in a circular pattern also made this a very attractive dish.

Gratins originated in French cuisine and has been adopted in many other culinary cuisines. I wasn’t sure exactly what gratin was until I saw one made on a cooking show. On this particular show the chef made potato au gratin which was gorgeous because of the crispy brown topping. Turns out a gratin is considered the technique of topping a dish with breadcrumbs or grated cheese then browning it.

While most of the gratin recipes I have seen are made with sliced white potatoes I wanted to think outside the box and combine potatoes with other vegetables. Plus, I wanted to make the dish pop with color. Hence, my Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin. A ring of beauty and a delightful dish.

Zucchini, Tomato and Sweet Potato Gratin

Ingredients:

2 plum or vine ripe tomatoes sliced

1 large zucchini sliced

1 large sweet potato peeled and sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

½ tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat bottom of a large iron skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add minced garlic and spread around the skillet. Alternate slices of zucchini, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes in a circular pattern around the iron skillet. Place red onion slices over the other veggies then season with salt, ground black pepper and thyme. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Move to top rack and back for 20 – 25 minutes more. Test potatoes with a knife to make sure they are cooked and soft.

 

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Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Salmon is probably my favorite fish next to cod. Cod is my go to fish for frying because it is tender and flaky. Salmon tastes great when it is broiled or baked and dripping with butter and lemon. To compliment salmon I like to add a side dish of vegetables and pasta. On some occasions I like to combine everything into a single dish.

My Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta is one of those dishes that can be combined into a single dish. Beautiful curls of pasta topped with a tenderly broiled salmon fillet and a cascade of roasted tomatoes and fennel can only make your mouth water when you look at your plate of deliciousness. Okay, Seriously! This is a beautiful dish that tastes wonderful. The type of salmon used in the recipe will change the taste of the dish so use whatever your taste buds like. I am not a fan of sockeye salmon which has a deep reddish orange color and a strong flavor. I prefer Coho or Atlantic salmon which is lighter in color and has a much milder flavor than sockeye. No matter which type of salmon you choose you are sure to get a ton of Omega-3s.

Roasting tomatoes brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Fennel is aromatic and has a sweet licorice flavor. Cooked fennel has a milder flavor than raw fennel so it goes well with the salmon and tomatoes without overpowering the dish.

So, if you are looking for a nice healthy flavorful dish to impress your family and friends try out my Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Ingredients:

2 – 3 salmon fillets

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

1 small bulb of fennel

1 shallot sliced

1 pkg campanelle pasta

¼ cup reserved pasta water

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

6 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dill

paprika

Preheat 425 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Set aside.

 

Place tomatoes, fennel and shallots on a rimmed cookies sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat veggies with olive oil and seasonings. Place in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Prepare salmon by placing on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt, black pepper and dill. Place 2 tbsp of butter on each fillet. Place in oven with tomatoes and fennel. Cook for 20 minutes. Set aside to rest while tomatoes and fennel finish cooking.

Remove tomatoes and fennel from the oven and pour pasta water over veggies. Spoon pasta onto a plate. Add a salmon fillet then spoon roasted tomatoes and fennel over the salmon. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Tomato Soup

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My Tomato Soup is not like your popular brand of canned tomato soup. It is much better. At least that is what my hubby thinks. After eating two bowls of my Tomato Soup he proclaimed it was the best soup I had made to date and he enjoys all of my homemade soups.

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Using a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes makes this soup tasty and gives it texture. I like smooth soups but I also enjoy soups with a little texture which lets you know what kind of soup you are eating.

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A good test of whether or not a soup is blog worthy for me is if I want to dip a sandwich into it. At the very least, a good test is if I want to take that last piece of bread and run it around the bowl to get every last bit of soup. By those standards this soup was fantastic! Not only did I dip my sandwich into it, I licked my fingers to get the few drops that landed there after dipping. Yum! Yum!

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Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

6 large vine ripened or plum tomatoes peeled

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 14 oz can spicy red tomatoes

2 scallions sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ white onion sliced

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

½ cup ½ and ½

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp seasoned salt

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp lemon pepper

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried dill weed

pinch of sugar.

Boil about 4 cups of water. Place fresh tomatoes in a large pot and pour boiling water over tomatoes for easy peeling.  Rough chop the tomatoes.

Place peeled tomatoes and all other ingredients except the Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and ½ and ½ into a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it is smooth but still has some texture. You can also place the tomato mixture into a blender to smooth out the veggies then place back into the pot.

Stir in heavy cream and ½ and ½. Place pot back on the heat and reduce heat to medium low. Add parmesan cheese to the pot and stir for 1 – 2 minutes until the cheese melts and is incorporated into the soup. Simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a nice crusty piece of bread to sop up all the tomato soup goodness!

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BCT Sandwiches (Bacon, Cucumber and Tomato)

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BCT (Bacon, Cucumber and Tomato) sandwiches are a nice little treat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Instead of a heavy load of bacon, eggs, potatoes and pancakes, a light but filling sandwich is the way I like to roll. Nothing against a big breakfast but after eating that much food I am ready for a very long nap.

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A take on the classic BLT, the BCT provides refreshing veggies and the smoky taste of bacon. I first experienced having a breakfast sandwich with BCT when my hubby brought one home from a trip to the gas station that also has a deli inside. It was on a particular Saturday which I deemed cereal day because I was not into making breakfast that day and no one else volunteered. Since hubby wasn’t in the mood for cereal he decided to pick up a breakfast sandwich when he went to get gas (he is such a good multi-tasker). I must say I was a little envious when he showed me his sandwich and I looked down at my soggy cereal.

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Needless to say, I decided I could re-create hubby’s Bacon, Cucumber and Tomato sandwich and turn it into a sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast and lunch the BCT is pretty straightforward. Although, to elevate the BCT as a lunch sandwich I sometimes add lettuce or fresh baby leaf spinach. For dinner, I will add a few thin slices of turkey breast or smoked salmon with capers.

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No matter when you decide to eat a BCT I know you will like it. Especially, if you are tired of cereal.

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BCT Sandwiches (Bacon, Cucumber and Tomato)

Ingredients:
4 sliced bagels
1 large tomato sliced
1 medium cucumber sliced
½ lb bacon fried slightly crisp
4 – 5 tbsp softened cream cheese

Toast bagels. Spread both sides of bagel with cream cheese. Layer one side of bagel with tomato, cucumber then top with bacon.

Optional:
thin slices of turkey breast
slices of smoked salmon and capers
fresh baby leaf spinach

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Andouille Sausage with Tomato Gravy

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Tonight I fixed andouille sausage with tomato gravy over pasta. I used chicken andouille sausage and made a rue with beer then added fire roasted tomatoes. I am not sure why or how I decided to make a tomato gravy. The idea just came to me on my long drive home from work. I was racking my brain to come up with something quick for dinner because I no longer felt like making the seafood salad I had planned. I knew I had andouille sausage at home and thought they would be good in a gravy so tomato gravy was born.

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Tomato gravy is really just a rue made with beer and fire roasted tomatoes. I don’t make gravy too often because it can be very heavy and of course fattening if made the way my grand-mom use to make it. Her gravy was delicious and good for twirling your biscuits in but now that I am older I cannot have a lot of biscuits and gravy. My hips will not allow it.

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Anyway, the andouille sausage and tomato gravy was good. One of those turn up the bowl to your lips so you can get every drop kind of good. You know what I mean. Everyone (I hope) has experienced at least once in their lifetime a dish that made you want to lick the bowl but you settled for secretly lifting the bowl to your lips and sucking up the juices. If you have not had that experience I feel sorry for you. Maybe this will be one of those dishes for you.

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The slight heat from the sausage and the smokiness of the fire roasted tomatoes was a wonderful combination. The beer added another level of flavor because of the lemon grass, coriander and orange spices in the beer. I am not a real beer drinker but I do like to cook with it so I look for different flavors of beer that might elevate a dish. Beer can add a subtle punch to any recipe instead of overpowering the dish like other types of alcohol.

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I am sure I will be making andouille sausage with tomato gravy again and again judging by the two bowls my hubby had tonight. Quick and easy is still my motto.

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Andouille Sausage with Tomato Gravy

Ingredients:
8 chicken andouille sausage links
2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 bag baby leaf spinach (optional)
1 bottle good beer / ale
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Adobo
1 tsp worcestershire
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp gumbo file (optional)
½ tsp cilantro
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cayenne

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut a few slits in each andouille sausage link and place them on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes until browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large frying pan add vegetable oil and flour over medium high heat. Whisk together until smooth and continue whisking until mixture turns a light cocoa brown. Be careful not to burn the rue so whisk constantly. Slowly pour in beer while continuing to whisk the rue. Add water, tomatoes and seasonings. Reduce heat to a simmer then add spinach. Stir to coat spinach with gravy then add sausage. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve over curly pasta, mash potatoes or rice.

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Okra and Tomatoes

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If you find fresh okra at your local grocer, use that instead of frozen. Frozen okra is not bad but as with most recipes fresh is better. Okra and tomatoes is one of those southern dishes that goes great with all types of meat entrees.

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Being a truly southern gal my mom use to make okra and tomatoes with fried fish and hush puppies. I also like pairing okra and tomatoes with fried fish. I just have not perfected making hush puppies . At least not yet.

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For those folks that don’t know much about cooking okra, let me give you a tip. Do not cut off the top of the okra unless you want it to be slimy in your dish. The only time I cut okra is when I am cooking fried okra then it does not get slimy. My cousin Bernice taught me that. Not everybody likes the taste of okra which is why I usually prepare it as a separate vegetable side dish. Of course when you are making okra and tomatoes the okra is the star of the dish.

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If you have not tried okra or thought you did not like okra, give it another chance. Both the tomatoes and okra compliment each other with a wonderful flavor. To my southern folks I say try my version because I know you already know how good okra can be.

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Okra and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
1 lb okra (fresh or frozen)
1 14 oz can spicy diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can corn drained
2 slices bacon diced
1 medium onion diced
1 stalk celery diced
½ cup green pepper diced
½ cup chicken broth
½ tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

Place olive oil and bacon in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Cook until bacon becomes crisp. Reduce heat to medium then add onions, peppers, celery, worcestershire sauce and seasonings to the pan. Stir and cook until vegetables soften. Add tomatoes, okra, corn and broth. Let simmer for 20 25 minutes. Serve over rice if desired.

 

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Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onions with Pea Shoots on Flatbread

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Working with flatbreads is one of my new adventures. I came up with a few recipes that I am trying out on my lovely taste testers. The first one I pulled together was eggplant, tomatoes and onions with pea shoots. I know. Who ever heard of pea shoots. I had never heard of them until I was perusing the fresh vegetables at Trader Joe’s. I am always interested in trying out new veggies and figuring out how I can use them in a recipe. I originally thought I would use spinach or even watercress but the pea shoots caught my eye and I had a second thought. Why not use them on the flatbread!

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Because roasting veggies makes them soft I wanted to have another level of texture on the flatbreads. The pea shoots added just the right amount of crunch to go with the roasted eggplant, tomatoes and onions. Plus, the pea shoots have a nice flavor too. They have the subtle “sweet taste of spring peas” just like it says on the package. I will definitely be adding pea shoots to some other recipe in the future.

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Getting back to flatbreads, I find it is really just a fancy way of saying pizza. Although when I was researching information about flatbreads, there really is a difference between the two. Flatbreads are thin and made from unleavened dough and pizzas can be be thin or thick and are made with yeast so it rises. What is confusing is that I have seen on restaurant menus the description of flatbread pizzas which means they are just thin flat pizzas with yeast somewhere in the mix.

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I am keeping it simple and calling this a flatbread dish based on what it said on the package I purchased. No matter what you call it the taste will be delicious. If your creation works out the way mine did you may have to make two because the family will keep coming back for more.

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Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onions with Pea Shoots on Flatbread

Ingredients:
1 14oz flatbread (Trader Joe’s Rustic Ciabatta Flatbread)
1 medium eggplant sliced (skin on)
1 medium onion sliced thin
2 Kumata tomatoes sliced
2 Roma tomatoes sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup organic pea shoots
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss together pea shoots, a pinch of salt, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Layer eggplant, tomatoes and onions on a the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Roast until veggies are soft and browned for approximately 25 – 30 minutes. Toss the veggies mid-way through cooking to make sure all of the veggies brown.

Place flatbread on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil then sprinkle with ½ cup of mozzarella. Spread eggplant, tomato and onions over the flatbread then sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Top with remaining cheese then sprinkle oregano and basil over cheese. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until cheese melts and turns slightly brown. Let cool for a few minutes then cut with a pizza slicer. Top with pea shoots and enjoy.

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Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes

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Since my hubby and kids love pasta so much I am always looking for new ways to fix it. I also like to use different types of pasta shells to give the pasta dishes a a new twist. The type of pasta you pick for a dish depends on what you want the pasta to do. If I am making a creamy pasta dish I usually pick pasta that will cuddle the sauce in the nooks and crannies of the pasta like shells or ziti. If I am fixing a dish that is lighter and the sauce just needs to coat the pasta, I will use angel hair, linguine or bow tie pasta.

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Gemelli pasta falls into both categories. Because of its shape gemelli pasta is a nice twist (yes, pun intended) for creamy or oil based sauces. When I first started formulating this recipe in my mind I was not sure what kind of pasta I would use. I did not want to use penne pasta because I have seen so many recipes with penne including my own. I was cruising the pasta aisle when I spotted the gemelli pasta. It had been a long time since I prepared any dish with gemelli so I got excited when the light bulb went off in my head to use gemelli as my pasta.

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I will admit that I cook a lot of dishes with tomatoes. Another thing besides pasta that my family really loves. For me, tomatoes just naturally go with pasta. Tomatoes add a savory sweetness to pasta dishes. Baking or roasting tomatoes really helps to bring out the sweetness which is how I prepared the tomatoes for this recipe.

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In the end, the combination of flavors from the tomatoes, cheese, spinach and gemelli made for a very nice pasta dish. On occasion, to elevate the flavors even more I brown andouille sausage and add it to the recipe to give the dish a kick of spiciness. Yummy!

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Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 pints cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 16 oz box gemelli pasta
1 10 oz bag baby leaf spinach
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup fontina
½ cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix panko bread crumbs, ½ cup of the grated parmesan cheese, parsley and oregano in a small bowl.

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Add tomatoes to the casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil and olive oil. Stir to blend olive oil and seasonings then top with bread crumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bread crumbs are browned.

Prepare pasta according to package. Drain (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl. Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil. Add remaining grated parmesan cheese, fontina cheese, spinach and tomato mixture. Gently toss together until well blended.

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