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

“Weekend Kitchen Math – When 4 = 2”

When does 4 equal 2? When  4  first-crop small ripe tomatoes from my garden became 2 simple, fresh meals in just minutes. Each meal uses 2 small ripe tomatoes.  

Weekend meals should be easy to prepare, should incorporate fresh from-your-garden, or the farmer’s market,  vegetables &  fruits, should definitely be enjoyed with a crisp chilled glass of wine and each bite should make you very, very happy.

The thrill is never gone when I find ripe tomatoes in my garden after weeks of waiting, watering and wondering. Saturday morning I found these little jewels hanging ripe on the vine waiting for their close-up.

SATURDAY EVENING SALAD:

2 small ripe garden-fresh tomatoes, sliced

slices of feta cheese

slivers of red, yellow or orange bell pepper

Arugula

A simple vinaigrette

Directions:

1. Arrange tomato slices in a ring around the outside edge of a dinner plate.

2. Add a handful of arugula in the center of the plate.

3. Create “spokes” with the bell pepper strips.

4. Evenly arrange feta slices over tomatoes.

5. Serve with a drizzle of your favorite home-made vinaigrette. Season with sea salt & cracked black pepper.

SUNDAY EVENING PASTA:

1 pkg fresh gnocchi (I used a sweet potato gnocchi) or any other fresh pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

Shredded Spinach leaves

2 small ripe garden tomatoes chopped

Directions:

1. Cook fresh Gnocchi/pasta in boiling salted water for about 2-4 minutes. Drain quickly & return pasta to pan. A few tablespoons of cooking water should be left in the pan.

2. Add a generous 1/2 cup grated Parmesan & toss with pasta & pasta water.

3. Add portions of Gnocchi to serving bowls, sprinkle shredded spinach leaves over the top.

4. Scatter chopped tomatoes  &  additional grated Parmesan. Season with sea salt & black pepper.

Bon Apetit!