August in Nashville and we are all enjoying ripe, juicy colorful tomatoes from our gardens, but soon, very soon, the weather will change and the vines will have lots of end-of-the-season green tomatoes hanging on. There are many recipe for using green tomatoes. Pickled, fried, jammed and juiced, but this late summer/early fall green tomato pasta sauce is another to add to your list of what to do with those late, we-are-never-turning-red green tomatoes.
A few green tomatoes chopped and sautéed, a quick multi-herb pesto, lots of parmigiana-reggiano…everything mixed and quickly cooked together. Served over a sturdy noodle such as Bucatini with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt…in a half hour you’ll have a pasta dish to celebrate green tomatoes, not fried.
Tossed with noodles and generous grating of parmigiana-reggiano…..and a slightly chilled glass of Italian Red might be a little bit of heaven on a late summer evening. Go ahead, fry, pickle and jam all you like, but do try this recipe and let me know what you think.
For the Pesto- 1/4 cup each fresh basil leaves, parsley, arugula and mint + 2 garlic cloves + juice of half a lemon + olive oil + salt and pepper and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.
a drizzle of olive oil
6 medium to large green tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 lb Bucatini or Spaghetti noodles
extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for topping servings
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
While waiting…in a food processor pulse together the basil leaves, parsley, arugula, mint and garlic cloves, and lemon juice, leaving chunky. Drizzle in some olive oil (I like a less oily pesto, but use what you like) and pulse. Add in salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse a few more times to blend. Scrape pesto out into a bowl and set aside.
In a large saute pan set over medium high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and the chopped green tomatoes. Toss to coat the tomatoes and saute, stirring, for 8 minutes. Pour in the broth. Add salt and black pepper. Bring to a low boil, turn heat to simmer, stirring often until liquid is reduced by half. When tomatoes begin to soften, sprinkle in the 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss to coat well. Add the pesto to the hot sauce, stirring until well mixed. Cover and keep sauce warm until pasta is cooked.
When water comes to a boil, add in the Bucatini and cook just until al dente. Drain well.
Serve pasta in bowls topped with the sauce and more grated cheese. A good Italian red or white will bring this meal together.
This recipe is based on a Mario Batali recipe from years and years ago. I made some changes to make it even better.
This, so far, has been one of the most beautiful and verdant Springs I can remember. A good amount of rain, lots of warm days and cool nights. This is the optimum time for growing lettuce and kale. I have a little raised bed and it has been amazing how many greens it produces. Here is the handful I picked for this salad..green and red leaf kale, butter lettuce and romaine…
I’m a big fan of canned seafood. My pantry is chock full of cans of tuna, salmon, sardines, salmon pate and even smoked herring. Canned fish and seafood are rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids which are both important for our overall health. This salad is topped with a can of Wild Alaska Pink Salmon. The slight sweetness of the salmon paired with the crisp, tart greens, peppery radishes, thinly sliced cucumbers and some shaved asiago cheese is fresh, colorful and full of textural goodness. Sometimes I even use the olive oil from a can as the base for a vinaigrette salad dressing.
My salad today is not a real recipe with exact amounts of ingredients or techniques, just a meal, simple and seasonal. I plan to share a number of my favorite meals using canned fish over the next month or so….a fabulous simple pasta dish using chunks of canned tuna and tomatoes, a mock-nicoise salad, a grilled cheese with sardines….yes, it is one of my favorite grilled sandwiches!
My Little Garden Greens and Canned Wild Alaska Pink Salmon Salad
There are tuna salads and Tuna Salads…and not all are created equal. The common link is usually a can of tuna. High in protein, very common and easy to find, canned tuna is one of my basic pantry staples. Combined with fresh greens, avocado, feta cheese, tomatoes, boiled eggs and a can of tuna makes one of our basic go-to meals….fresh and healthy.
Cans of tuna can vary greatly in quality, taste and how they are packed. I’m a big fan of “Ortiz Bonito Del Norte“. This tuna is packed in olive oil and is line caught. Large chunks of firm tuna that are not chopped up and mealy with a sublime flavor are the hallmarks of this brand. Where do I find it? World Market where I now do a regular pantry staple grocery store run once a month. Pasta sauces, good spices, olive oils and cans of tuna, sardines and anchovies, not to mention their beer selection and candies. They are not paying me to say this. I don’t even know anyone who works at World Market, but when I find a good thing I like to share.
The can itself is a piece of art. Don’t you agree?
Top salad off with iron skillet Parmesan croutons and you’ve got a meal that takes about 20 minutes from the start to the first bite…it’s as Easy-as-This.
20 Minutes Dinner Salad with Sour Dough-Parmesan Croutons
One can Ortiz Bonito del Norte Tuna packed in olive oil, lightly drained
a handful of arugula or other green
one ripe avocado, cut into chunks
two cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
Feta cheese chunks/crumbles to taste
a chunk of sour dough bread cut into cubes
Parmesan cheese freshly grated
any Mexican spice blend that contains oregano or any other favorite spice blend
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice and/or your favorite vinaigrette dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss chunks of sour dough bread with some olive oil to lightly coat and add to an iron skillet. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and spice blend. Stick in the open to crisp up for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven. While croutons are baking make the salads.
Add half of each ingredient to two shallow bowls. Add a grinding of black pepper and shake of sea salt.
Serve salads topped with a squeeze of lemon juice and/or a light drizzle of the dressing. Sprinkle crisp croutons on top. Start to finish 20 minutes!
While noodling around on the internet this week looking for inspiration for a “nosh of note”, I ran across a recipe for “Parmesan Cream Crackers” by Mark Bittman that was published in the New York Times cooking section a few years ago. Homemade crackers would certainly qualify as a “nosh of note” wouldn’t they? Bittman’s basic recipe has just a few ingredients and from start to finish, 25 minutes/ I had a pan of freshly baked crackers. What could be easier than that?
Encouraged I took the basic recipe and ran with it…first batch I topped with toasted sesame seeds….which thankfully you can now purchase already toasted. Would you like to know how many sesame seeds I have burned up toasting them myself? Thousands I would guess.
The simple dough needs to be rolled out thinly and cut/scored before baking. The second batch I added fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
On a roll I whipped up a few other batches using various toss-ins and toppings such as crunchy sea salt, black pepper, espresso cocoa sea salt….
….bittersweet chocolate, chopped pistachios, orange peel and crunchy raw sugar.
Two hours later sheet pans of savory aromatic crackers covered the kitchen counters, ready to accompany a cheese platter along with a few bottles of bubbly for a New Year’s Eve with good, long-time friends…it was as Easy as This.
Note: “Nosh of note” was a quote from my friend, Nancy Vienneau, within an invite to a New Years Eve gathering at her home. Check out her blog at “Good Food Matters”.
Note: You can find the original recipe for “Parmesan Cheese Crackers” by Mark Bittman here..
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cream + more as needed to make dough
For “Toss-ins and Toppings” that I used:
toasted sesame seeds
thyme leaves and pepper flakes
espresso-cocoa sea salt mixture
chopped pistachios and orange zest with black pepper
bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, raw sugar and cinnamon
any number of other ideas pop into my head…pecans, walnuts, green tea, cayenne, any herbs, cardamom, lavender and lemon zest…use what you might have, what you like, and experiment.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
To a food processor add flour, salt, Parmesan cheese and butter. Pulse to combine.
If you choose to add any “toss ins” do so now, although the original recipe is fantastic as is.
After adding “toss ins”…drizzle in cream while processor is running until a dough forms. If need be, add a wee bit more cream. Dough should be smooth and silky and not at all sticky.
Roll dough out until thin, but workable, on lightly floured surface. Add flour as needed. Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet. (You can also simply roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured parchment and then transfer to sheet pans to save a step.
Here is where the “toppings” part comes in. Sprinkle on top and gently press into surface of dough.
Using a pastry wheel or knife cut/score dough so you can break into individual crackers after baking.
Bake until golden, light browned…for about 10-13 minutes depending on your oven. Cool on wire rack. You can serve these crackers warm or at room temperature and they can be stored in air tight containers for a few days. They are great with a bowl of soup or as dippers.
recipe adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman published in the New York Times.
Comfort food in a world of chaos and uncertainty is what many of us home cooks create to ease the tensions of daily life. Few foods are more comforting than soups. The ease of preparation and ingredients, the simple cooking methods…these are things we can control when there is so much going on around us that we cannot.
My version of the classic French “Soup au Pistou” is one of my comfort foods on these November days when darkness comes early and there is a chill in the air and in a small place in my heart.
Pistou is somewhat like pesto but without pine nuts. Just a blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic and olive oil all smashed together either in a mortar and pestle, or as I did in a food processor. Pistou is a sauce or condiment from the Provence region of France and you will find it simple and easy to make.
Do you ever add the rinds of Parmesan cheese to your pot when making hearty soups? Try it if you have not. It is a good way to use those flavorful rinds and will make your finished soup even more delicious.
I love cornbread so these crispy “Black Pepper-Thyme Cornbread Sticks” are good to serve with this soup. Baked in a sheet pan and then cut into sticks make them great “dippers”.
Eat well. Be kind to yourself and others.
Cannellini Bean-Vegetable Soup with Pistou and Black Pepper Cornbread Sticks
1 package of your favorite yellow corn bread mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) + ingredients called for on package directions)
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
Ingredients for Pistou:
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves smashed
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
For Soup: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat & add the anchovies. Use a wooden spoon to stir and cook until the anchovies break up and dissolve.
Toss leeks and celery into the pan. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add a pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
Add zucchini and yellow squash, chicken broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add beans to pan, stir and turn heat to lowest setting to keep hot while you make cornbread and pistou.
For Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cornbread mix according to package directions adding the cracked black pepper, Parmesan and thyme leaves to the batter. Spread batter into a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack.
For Pistou: Put basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse a few times. Drizzle in olive oil just until mixture is a pesto-like consistency. I like a less oily pistou. If you prefer more oil then continue adding until it is to your liking.
To: Serve. Cut cornbread into “sticks”. Ladle soup into bowls and add a dollop of the pistou to stir into the soup. Serve remaining pistou on the side. Enjoy.
Light olive-green Baby Lima Beans, grass Green (English) Peas, the palest yellow-green Lady Peas tossed together with emerald mint leaves, brownish-green pistachios and lime-green pea shoots lightly coated with an easy honey vinaigrette dressing.
Which brings me to fundraisers and good deeds and all kinds of things like that. My friend and neighbor, Harriet Warner, sent me some information about a gathering that addresses all of the above. It is the Cumberland River Compact’s 4th Annual “Farm to Fork” dinner which brings top chefs together to celebrate local food, drink and clean water. If you would like to attend this fabulous evening of cool people who are interested in good food and keeping our beautiful Cumberland River clean and fresh go here for lots more information including menu, chefs…who, what, when and where. Or just go right here to buy tickets to be part of this great dinner party.
Now, back to my own little farm to fork dish,….peas and beans thawed, rinsed and drained…blanched in boiling water for a few minutes and again drained.
Ah ha! A jar of salt preserved lemons hiding in the back of my pantry! I know they are yellow, but might add just the right saltiness to the salad…slivered and chopped.
Mint from the backyard.
Red wine honey vinaigrette drizzled on top.
Tender pea shoots waiting to top off the salad along with some dusty green pistachios to add a bit of crunch.
All-Things-Green Salad with a Simple Red Wine-Honey Vinaigrette
3 cups each fresh or frozen Baby Lima Beans, Lady Peas, and Green(English) Peas
1 bunch of fresh mint
2 TBSP’s thin slivers of preserved lemon
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 cups loosely packed green pea shoots
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 TBSP honey
2 tsps Dijon mustard
sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a bit of salt. Toss in the baby lime beans, lady peas & green peas. Cook for about 5 minutes. Pour peas and beans into a colander to drain. Rinse with cool running water. Leave to drain and cool down for 20 minutes. Place in a large serving bowl.
Pour the olive oil, vinegar, honey and mustard in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to emulsify. Season with a bit of salt and black pepper to suit your taste. Set aside.
Roughly chop the mint leaves and add to the bowl of beans and peas along with the preserved lemon slivers. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
When ready to serve drizzle the vinaigrette over all and toss gently. Top with the tender pea shoots and pistachios.
Note: This is a perfect salad for a crowd. I made it for the September Third Thursday Community Potluck dinner. You could also cut it in half for a family dinner. There was a little bit left so I ate it the next day for lunch and it was even better!
You can use edamame if you cannot find lady peas. I used summer beans and peas that I had frozen, but store-bought frozen product works great too.