Tag Archives: tomato

Shutdown Survival Foods

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Just in time for Halloween, reports of disease-infested meats are starting to come in. Goody! Unfortunately this is no trick-or-treat – USDA food inspections have been suspended due to the Congressionally-induced government shutdown. (I saw a poll today that showed that Americans prefer dog poop, head lice and colonoscopies to Congress – seems about right!) If you’d like to avoid salmonella and survive the impending zombie apocalypse (have I been watching too much cable news?), it’s a great time to go vegan! Since salmonella is most commonly found in food products that come from animals, it’s easy to steer clear of it: just don’t eat meat or animal products. Simple as that!

Here are two super quick, extremely tasty animal-free snacks that will put a smile back on your face: tomato-basil hummus and pan-roasted shishito peppers. Both take just minutes to prepare, and extra bonus, one of them has a built-in handle for easy hurling at your TV, a member of Congress, or whatever…

Oh, and if you have any old, potentially E. coli-laden meats in your fridge, no need to let them go to waste – just send them to Congress as a special “gift” for their excellent service.  Trick or treat! 😉

Tomato basil hummus

Tomato-Basil Hummus
Serves: 4
From fridge to table: 5 minutes

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves
½ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for a few minutes to soften
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if you’ve got basil-infused olive oil, now is the time to use it! My favorite is from 11Olives.com – deeelish!)
A little water, 1 tbsp at a time, to taste

Toss everything except oil and water into a food processor and grind until smooth. Drizzle in the oil, then drizzle in water – one tablespoon at a time – until you reach desired consistency. Personally, I like this hummus a little thinner than a typical hummus, but it’s totally up to you!

Pan-roasted shishito peppers - yum!

Pan-Roasted Shishito Peppers
Serves: 4
From fridge to table: 10 minutes

Grab a basket of these beautiful little peppers from your local farmer’s market, then heat up your wok to super-hot. Pour in a little high-temperature oil (like grape seed oil), then slide in the peppers. I like to slide them down the sides of the pan to avoid oil-splatter. Stir vigorously until they’re a little deflated and thoroughly charred. Turn off heat and toss in some smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then serve (or huck at the TV – your choice).

Enjoy!

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Hearty Tomatoey Butter Bean Pot

Tomatoey Butter Bean Pot

Two years ago, John and I got the chance to experience a really special Outstanding in the Field event held on a private beach in Santa Cruz. The 100-person table was set up on the sand and wrapped around a huge beach bonfire. It wasn’t so bad watching whales spout in the background while sifting sand through our toes and sipping wine with our good friends! You’d think that would be the most memorable part of the evening, but no – since I’m an insufferable foodie douche weenie, the most mind-blowing thing about the whole dinner was being introduced to my new favorite food: the Italian butter bean.  The beans, which are large white limas, are creamy, tender and slightly nutty tasting – they’re unlike anything I’ve ever tried! They are as tasty as they are filling, making them great for entrees and side dishes alike.

The Outstanding in the Field organizers paired up local organic farmers with two top Bay Area chefs, one of which was Richard Reddington of Napa Valley’s acclaimed restaurant, Redd.  Chef Reddington created an incredible tomatoey Italian butter bean dish that left all of our jaws on the table. After dinner, Chef Reddington was kind enough to sit with me at the bonfire and give me some of his secrets for his incredibly flavorful butter bean dish. Unfortunately, I had sampled quite a few glasses of delicious local wine by then and had killed far too many brain cells to remember all the details he shared with me, but thankfully, enough key pieces of intel stayed with me so that I could create my own version of his delightful dish. I’m calling mine the Tomatoey Butter Bean Pot, which features a thick, rich sauce and deep, earthy flavors. Whenever I make this dish, it instantly transports us back to the beach and that spectacularly special evening, which might be why John and our friends request the bean pot so often. Well, it might have more to do with the fact that this dish totally rocks and the butter beans are to die for! And since it’s super easy to make, nutrient-rich and loaded with protein, it has become a staple in our house. I bet you will love it, too.

Note the wine glass in my hand: this is why I couldn't remember Chef Reddington's exact recipe!

Note the wine glass in my hand: this is why I couldn’t remember Chef Reddington’s exact recipe! But don’t worry, my version of his dish will still knock your socks off.

Cimeron’s Tomatoey Butter Bean Pot
Serves: 15 people as a side dish, or 6 as a main course
From fridge to table: about 3 hours (plus overnight soaking of the beans)
(Don’t worry – it’s one of those “let it sit on the stove for hours” kind of recipes, so it won’t require much of your time at all)

1 pound dried Italian butter beans*
1 extra humongous yellow onion, finely chopped
15 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and finely chopped
1.5 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
Smoked sea salt and pepper, to taste

First, soak the beans in water overnight. To de-gas the beans, soak them with a piece of kombu (a dried seaweed you can find at Whole Foods), or change the water often within the first few hours.

Drain the soaked beans, put them in a large pot and fill with fresh water until the beans are just covered. Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the salt and pepper. (Salt stops beans from cooking, so don’t add the salt yet). Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered. Then reduce heat to simmer (on my range, I set it to 3), and cook, uncovered, for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours until the beans are tender and the cooking liquid and veggies become a thick, rich sauce. Be sure to stir every now and then to prevent scorching. If the sauce thickens but the beans aren’t soft enough yet, add some water (1/2 – 1 cup at a time) and continue cooking the beans. Once the beans are tender and creamy, add smoked sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Serve hot as a side dish or as an entree. Enjoy!

*I get dried Italian butter beans from Iacopi Farms at our local farmer’s market. Mr. Iacopi’s father immigrated to the Bay Area from Italy and brought his family’s famous butter beans with him.  If you can’t find them where you are, you can buy canned Italian butter beans in most high-end grocery stores, or buy the dried beans online. You could also substitute another large white bean, but if you can, try to find the butter beans since they are simply divine.IMG_0146

You didn't believe me when I said I am a foodie douche weenie, did you? Well, this might prove my point. Who else but a food groupie would get her photo taken with a chef-idol? Chef Reddington and his butter beans rock!

You didn’t believe me when I said I am a foodie douche weenie, did you? Well, this might prove my point. Who else but a food groupie would get her photo taken with a chef-idol? Chef Reddington and his butter beans rock!

If you have a chance, I highly recommend going to an Outstanding in the Field event. They travel around the US all spring and summer and they're quite amazing.

If you have a chance, I highly recommend going to an Outstanding in the Field event. They travel around the US all spring and summer and they’re super fun.

Off-The-Vine Tomato Soup

Hello. My name is Cimeron and I’m a tomato addict. I ignored all the warning signs, like when I planted 18 tomatoes in my garden last spring. I convinced myself that it was normal and declared it would be a fun challenge to make use of all the tomatoes once harvest time rolled around. Little did I know that I’d have pounds and pounds and POUNDS of tasty, delectable tomatoes. John and I are utterly drunk on tomatoes! Perhaps it’s wrong to be addicted to garden-fresh tomatoes, but it tastes so right!

Even if it’s not raining tomatoes in your yard, you can still head to the farmer’s market and pick up some delicious tomatoes that are bursting with summer-fresh flavor. While my favorite way to eat them is raw so we can taste all their tangy, sweet, juicy goodness, this vibrant soup also highlights the bright, fresh flavor of ripe tomatoes. It’s so good that John always asks for seconds, and our friends request it frequently. There are some interesting secret ingredients that help the tomato flavor pop even more: ginger, orange zest and a hint of clove. Trust me on this: this is a mouth-wateringly good soup.

So get out to your garden and pick some fresh tomatoes, or pick up some vine-ripened flavor-bombs at your farmer’s market and prepare to feel your taste buds dance for joy!

Cimeron’s Off-the-Vine Tomato Soup

Serves: 4-6 as a meal, or 8 as a starter
From vine to table: about 30 minutes

3 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
18 mid-sized tomatoes (between golf ball and baseball size) or 13 big suckers, chopped up
2 tbsp grated ginger (fresh ginger, peeled)
3.5 tbsp grated orange peel
A pinch of ground cloves
A big handful of fresh basil, chopped very finely
A handful of croutons

In a big pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they’re see-through, which takes about 8 minutes or so. Add the orange peel, ginger and cloves, stirring/cooking for 2 minutes to release the fragrance and flavor of the additions. Then reduce heat to medium, toss in the tomatoes and cook – uncovered – until the tomatoes have broken down, which can take about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir them every now and then so they don’t stick to the bottom and burn. Turn off the heat and then with a stick blender, puree the soup. You could also use a blender or food processor, but since I hate to clean, I like to just put the stick blender right in the pot and go to town on it.  Season the soup with salt (preferably smoked sea salt if you have it) and pepper.  Serve the soup hot with some fresh basil on top and a couple of croutons. Enjoy!

 

Zesty, Tomatoey, Gooey Hot Dip Makes Even a Bacon Fanatic Smile

Mmmmm, The Goodness! Just look at this luscious, piping hot pan of joy! Can’t you just taste the zesty, sock-it-to-you rich blend of baked tomatoes perfumed with bay leaves and accented with sauteed onion, garlic and gooey mozzarella fresca (or vegan Daiya mozzarella) melting in your mouth? And can’t you just feel that satisfying crunch of crusty sourdough bread that’s been dipped in this divine sauce?  Once you try this dish, you’ll see why I’ve named it “The Goodness.” My meat-loving husband often requests The Goodness for dinner and it makes for a nice intimate meal, sitting shoulder to shoulder and hovering over the pan together like hyenas devouring a carcass. It’s also a fantastic and fun appetizer when you have friends over.

I get a lot of flack from our smart-ass carnivore friends who enjoy tormenting me over my efforts to convert my husband into a vegetarian (shhh, I’m actually hoping to turn him into a vegan eventually!) But I’ve noticed that whenever they come over and I tell them that I’m making them The Goodness, they shut the heck up. The Goodness has special powers over meat-lovers! It even recently inspired a die-hard bacon fanatic to declare: “Wow, this is actually reeeeeally good!” That’s high praise from a man who would sooner eat a bacon-wrapped piece of plywood than a cucumber.

So suck it, smart-ass carnivore friends! And please enjoy your foray into vegetarianism with The Goodness. 🙂

The Goodness

Serves: 2-3 as a main dish, or 6 as an appetizer

From fridge to table: about 30 minutes (but don’t worry – it’s super simple to make)

Ingredients:

1 14 oz can Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes (if you want a kick, use the one with green chilies. Yowza!)

1 14 oz can Muir Glen organic tomato sauce

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tub of tiny mozzarella fresca balls, OR to make it vegan, use Daiya* vegan mozzarella and sprinkle into little rounds on top

1 sourdough baguette, sliced

* Personally, almost all fake cheeses make me gag – literally, I gag, run for the bathroom and scrape my tongue.  But for this recipe, Daiya works incredibly well and is actually (dare I admit it) tasty! Unlike other fake cheeses, Daiya melts and stretches, which is necessary for this recipe. Given that mozzarella is a naturally mild-flavored cheese, this works well in Daiya’s vegan format. You can get Daiya at Whole Foods, natural food stores, and now it’s showing up in mainstream grocery stores, too.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a high-sided, large oven-safe saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic and bay leaves until onions are translucent. Turn heat down to medium. Add tomatoes. Simmer and stir for a few minutes to blend flavors. Turn off heat. Drop mozzarella or Daiya on top and then put the whole thing in the oven, uncovered. (After about 20 minutes, put the bread in the oven to heat it up and make the top crunchy.) Bake The Goodness for a total of 25 minutes or until golden on top and slightly bubbly. Serve with the hot bread. Enjoy!