So one of my favorite simple dishes is a sort of half-way thing between bruschetta and a caprese salad. Basically, all the ingredients of a caprese salad, but chopped into little pieces and used to top bread. Well, I finally managed to find so decent (ie not tasteless) tomatoes at the grocery store the other day and was very excited to use them. Also, incredibly lazy and didn’t want to make anything too complicated this week for new recipe day (even I get lazy). So I decided to make my tomato salad, but toss it with pasta, thus making caprese pasta.
2 servings of penne pasta
10-12 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
Boil the pasta in salted water until done. While the pasta is cooking, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Place the tomatoes in a bowl with the mozzarella and season with salt and dried basil to taste. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil – more than the tomatoes seem to need as it will coat the pasta as well. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with the tomato/mozzarella mixture. add a little parmesan and serve warm.
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Not that it was every going to be bad, but for something really simple it was really a nice dish. Barely any work and way prettier and tastier than just pasta with tomato sauce. You could also easily serve it cold as a pasta salad in the summer, but it was nice to have now before spring really starts. As you can see from the picture, I served this with a side of roasted asparagus, which went perfectly. Song of the Week: Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. Hey, I’m allowed a cheesy guilty pleasure once in a while.
I rarely eat pasta. I’m not entirely sure why, other than when I crave basic carbs, I just eat bread with some cheese or butter, even if I have to make the bread myself. And when I do eat pasta, I usually make myself Mac and Cheese, or some variant of it, because it is one of life’s ultimate comfort foods (the other two are soup and ice cream). But, this week I decided to make an exception to that, and made pasta with summer vegetables.
Linguine (2 serving)
1 yellow squash, halved and then thinly sliced
1 cup or so cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of pine nuts, toasted
10 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil, and roast them. Now, roasting tomatoes can be done in a variety of different ways, I roasted them at 275 in the oven for about an hour and a half. Once they have roasted, set aside. Boil the pasta. In the meantime, saute the garlic and the squash in some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. When they are almost done, add some white wine (like 2 tablespoons? – I just pour some directly from the bottle, rather than measure) and finish cooking. Then add the cherry tomatoes, pasta, and basil. Mix the whole thing together and make sure it’s heated through. Serve in bowls, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and parmesan.
This was such a good recipe. Perfect for summer, and full of flavor, and not too complicated. Also, leave off the parmesan and its totally vegan. I’d love to say that I’d make this recipe again, but I doubt it, only because I never seem to make pasta! Ah well, maybe this will motivate me. Serve with white wine of course – whatever you cooked with. I used a torrontes, which is decent, but not my favorite varietal. Song of the Week: A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission) by Simon and Garfunkel. Way funkier than their normal stuff, but totally amazing and pretty much a string of references. It’s super 60s in the best possible way.
I am convinced that every culture from the Mediterranean Basin through to the Pacific Ocean has some version of an eggplant-tomato dish. The French have ratatouille, the Sicilians caponata, the Persians have mirza ghasemi, and the Indians have baingan bharta. And I love all of them. So, when I found the Majorca equivalent, the tumbet, I assumed I’d like it, even if I’d never heard of a tumbet before. The Vegetarian Times website is a very nifty resource and I recommend checking it out. It is where I found this week’s recipe: Potato and Eggplant Tumbet.
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large eggplant, chopped
1-2 yellow potatoes, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tablespoons pasta sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Heat the olive oil in a large pot, and saute the onions and red peppers for 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add all the other ingredients expect the filo dough, and a little under 1 cup of water. Cover the pot and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once that has finished cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350 and pour the veggies into a baking pan – trying to prevent as much of the liquid from getting in there as possible. Take a few sheets of filo dough. Brush each sheet, or part of a sheet, with butter. Then crumple it into a ball-ish form and place it on top of the veggies. Since you crumple, it’s cool if the sheets are imperfect. Keep doing that until the whole dish is covered. If you are me and think pine nuts clearly go with everything, add a handful of pine nuts and scatter across the top of the dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes, and serve warm.
Result: Really good. A little too much liquid though, and that causes issues with the filo topping. I suspect there will be some reheating problems on that end too. But a solid, filling recipe that is healthy. Also, if you have the opportunity to add the pine nuts – do so. Pine nuts make everything better in my opinion. I had this with prosecco, for the completely logical reason that I had mimosas with brunch today, and so it was already open. I think I’d like this with a red though. Also, if you use olive oil instead of butter, this recipe is totally vegan. Song of the week: Star Trek fanvids. I couldn’t decide between the amazing “Closer” video and “Tik Tok” which I also love. If you are a fan, like me “Last Friday Night” is pretty good too.
Whenever I’m in internet-land and I come across a recipe that looks awesome but I don’t really want to make/don’t have the ingredients for at any given time I save them to a bookmarks folder so I don’t forget about them. It also, at least in theory, helps me not get too stuck when new recipe day rolls around and I’m not inspired. This was one of those weeks, so when flipping through my folder, I found Tomato Crostata with Honey-Thyme Glaze, and was like sold! I actually followed the recipe pretty closely, just a few adjustments here and there.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
7 tablespoons butter
Mix the flour, cornmeal and parmesan in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, a fork works extremely well too. Once the butter is in fairly small bits and well-incorporated, add water a little at a time. Mix as you go until a cohesive dough ball forms. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside
Filling and glaze
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
grated cheese, either cheddar or gouda preferably
Mince the garlic and saute in some olive oil until it has browned, and then set it aside. Put the vinegar, honey, and thyme into a small saucepan and simmer it for a few minutes – like 5 or so. Then set aside (warning, you won’t use all of it so you can either save it for later, or make a smaller amount. Then you assemble everything. You can make this as one big crostada, or a 2 little ones – I made 2 little ones. Roll out the dough to the desired size. Brush with the honey-thyme glaze. Add the tomatoes, leaving some space at the edge in a somewhat overlapping circle and brush them with more of the glaze. Then add the garlic, a little salt, and the cheese. Fold the edges of the tart over or up a bit, and then I sprinkled just a little more of the glaze. Bake at 425 until golden – around 30 minutes give or take.
This is my fav current tomato tart. Don’t get me wrong, I made a pretty good roasted tomato one a while back, but I like this one more. It’s also a bit on the sweet side, which is fun if you are me and have an insatiable sweet tooth. It does get a bit juicy when baking, but that’s not really a major problem in my book. I served this with a white bordeaux. I have a soft spot for white bordeaux and have excellent experience with most bottles in the $10-15 range. I think rose would probably be too fruity with this dish, but most white wines would probably work. Song of the week: What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes. I binged Sense8 over the weekend (and you should too btw) and one of my favorite scenes involved this song. Combine that with a lot of emotional angst in my real life and you have the perfect song for my week.
Sometimes, I don’t have interesting stories for why I chose a particular recipe on a given week. This is one of those weeks. Casting about for something to cook for new-recipe day, I checked NPR’s food blog (sadly no longer active) and found a week devoted to roasted tomatoes. Now, I’ve never roasted tomatoes, but the recipe seemed straight-forward enough, and I love tomatoes so, decision made. Warning: this recipe takes a long time to put together, like 2 hours so make sure you leave plenty of time to make it. Or have lots of little snacks to munch on while cooking. Or wine. Or both.
Step 1: The Tomatoes
3-4 ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Slice the tomatoes and stick them on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle the vinegar, oil and a little salt over the slices. Stick in the oven and roast at 350 until they start to brown and dry out. I prefer them only lightly roasted, but you can roast them longer if you want. Just an fyi, the tomatoes will start by expelling the juice, so there will initially be more juice in the pan, before it starts to evaporate – so don’t worry if 10-20 minutes in the bottom of your pan has a lot of liquid on it.
Step 2: The Crust
1 cup flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup salted butter
some cold water
Mix together the flour and cheese in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a fork if you don’t have one) until it is all incorporated, and the dough can almost clump together. Add the water, a little at a time, stirring it in with a knife and your hands until a nice dough has formed. Cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge.
Step 3: The Onions
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan, and turn the heat down to low. Add the onions and stir so they are all lightly coated in the oil. Cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be translucent but not brown. Add a little white wine to the pan, and keep cooking, on low, stirring every few minutes. The onions should shrink and slowly begin to color. After about 20-30 more minutes, the onions should begin to brown. At this point, you can either be done, or keep cooking until they become a nice amber-brown. The longer you cook them, the sweeter they get so it’s really up to you. I prefer them on the more lightly-sweet side.
Step 4: Assemble and bake.
Roll out the dough into a large circle and line either a pie plate or a tart pan. I had some leftover dough, so don’t worry if you do too. Put the onions as the bottom layer. Add some nice cheese over the onions. I used goat cheese and this spanish sheep cheese, but feta would work well – as would most slightly strong cheeses. Mozzarella might be too mild for this one. Layer the tomatoes on top of the cheese, and bake for 20-30 minute at 350 until done.
The result: unbelievably good. Like ridiculously good. Whether its good enough to be worth the amount of time it takes to make is more up to you, but it is pretty freaking delicious. And if you want an evening-long cooking project its great. It also stays good the next day, and is really good cold, which is nice because then you don’t get the limp crust problem than happens when you reheat something like this. Serve with a white wine, the one you used to cook the onions in preferable. But its a nice, versatile recipe, so it’s will pair well with most things. Song of the week: You’ll be in my heart, by Phil Collins – for no better reason than I’ve been feeling nostalgic and sometimes I’m a big softy.