Goodbye Summer Italian-Style Bread and Tomato Stew

It is officially fall, but we are lucky enough to still find some good tomatoes at some of our man Farmer’s Market locations. Our days are very warm and even though the calendar shows us one thing….it’s still late summer here in Nashville. We are all looking forward to cooler days while still enjoying our garden flowers and meals outdoors. Here is my recipe for “Bread and Tomato Stew” or “Pappa Al Pomodoro”. Simple to make, rustic in appearance and an homage to the last of our local tomatoes.

 Cherokee Purple tomatoes. They are my favorite tomato and I’m a little sad to see the end of them, but always looking forward to next summer’s bounty.

Good rustic, crusty bread from Dozen Bakery Nashville, local homegrown Cherokee Purple tomatoes, basil from my garden are the basic ingredients.

Tomatoes cooked down with leeks, onions and garlic, olive oil, wine and water ready for the bread cubes to be added. The bread soaks up the juice and all the flavors meld. A generous grating of good parmesan cheese and a glass of chilled wine are all you need….and love.

Bread and Tomato Stew Italian Style

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs good tomatoes, cored and chopped (peel if skins are tough)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed day old rustic bread
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a chunk of good Parmesan Cheese and a grater for serving

Directions:

  1. Saute leeks, red onion and garlic in olive oil until softened over medium heat.
  2. Turn heat to medium high and add wine. Reduce by half.
  3. Turn heat down to medium and add chopped tomatoes and half the basil leaves and the water. Bring mixture to a low boil then turn down to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir every now and then.
  4. Add in cubed bread, tossing to coat with tomato mixture and cook for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and cook for 5 minutes adding in the remaining half of the basil in just before moving off heat. Stir to combine all ingredients. The finished dish should be somewhat soupy but stew-like. Add more liquid if desired. I always make this “fork edible”.
  6. Serve with a generous grating of Parmesan and a nice chilled Italian White wine.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.    www.foodonfifth

Andalusian Gazpacho – Nashville Style

I am pretty sure the first time I ever had Gazpacho was in the early 70’s. Rather a cool-food of the moment it seemed to show up everywhere at potlucks and restaurants. Mostly chunky with too many onions taking over, and watery, I was never a fan. Over the years I tried the many versions of this Spanish soup that crossed my culinary path. The only vaguely appealing gazpachos were the blended-until-smooth ones…until recently.

I wish I could say the recipe is original, but it is not. On the other hand, I cannot say where it came from as it was cut from a magazine years ago and I recently found it in a file where I used to put such things before iphones and scanners. So I made this classic Andalusian Gazpacho a couple of weeks ago using Nashville homegrown tomatoes. I want to thank the cook who came up with this recipe and I want to thank them for converting me. Full of summer goodness.

Ingredients stuffed into my food processor…….

…and in a few seconds becoming creamy goodness.

I ate it for days. I froze some for later. August is a hot month calling for cooling foods. There’s a bumper crop of local tomatoes and cucumbers right now in the farmer’s markets. This soup is a good way to use those too-ripe-to-slice tomatoes as well.

Andalusian Gazpacho-Nashville Style

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 very ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (can use a home-grown as well)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: shredded cucumber for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until very smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings. Chill in a glass container with a lid until ready to serve.
  3. To serve drizzle with additional olive oil. Top servings with shredded cucumber if you wish.

“A Simple Sauce, Dave’s Tomatoes & an Ode by Pablo Neruda”

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My son-in-law, David,  has the magic touch when it comes to growing almost anything. He plants casually like a seasoned farmer. He does not fuss or worry, but accepts that things will grow, or not, depending on the weather. Tomatoes grow well for him in bad years, but this year, a good year, his plants are laden. He and my daughter, Whitney, are very generous with their bounty. See the big beauties above? Yep, those are David’s Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

 Vine ripened, just picked tomatoes. I am moved by their shapeliness, their innate lack of sameness and their color wheel of “reds, oranges & pinks”.

This is my favorite hot-summer, no-cook tomato sauce. It can only be made “right now” with just picked Summer tomatoes. Fresh, no fuss, quick and just plain good.

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

You only need a few ingredients….Fresh homegrown tomatoes, a few basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, smashed garlic cloves, a good fruity olive oil, salt & pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and just grated Parmesan cheese to scatter over the top.

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If you live in Nashville stop by Lazzaroli’s on 5th Avenue North in Historic Germantown. Tom has an amazing selection of olive oils. I picked up this bottle of Madonna Olive Oil especially for this dish. It’s amazing.

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Cook up some pasta al dente.

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Toss the sauce with the pasta, scatter Parmesan over the top…stay cool, eat well.

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 “Ode to Tomatoes” by Pablo Neruda

 …..at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

 

No-Cook Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print
Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 2 Large or 4 smaller size vine-ripened Tomatoes, cored & chopped
  • a small handful of fresh Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup good quality fruity olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

 

  1. Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, pine nuts & garlic to a mixing bowl
  2. Pour in olive oil & vinegar and toss well.
  3. Season with salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  4. Chill until ready to serve covered.
  5. Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan, a crusty loaf to sop the juices on your plate and your favorite summer wine.

Notes: Unlike a cooked sauce, this is just a mouthful of summer. I have been making this for years and only eat it in the middle of tomato season. Some dishes have to wait for the right season to enjoy, such is this one.

Any homegrown tomatoes will work great. I used some of my baby tomatoes in this dish to add texture.  Probably 2 lbs of tomatoes would be good for this recipe for two servings. Just increase to feed more.