Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Late Summer Salsa

August 29, 2011

In late summer, tomatoes are at their peak, so I try to incorporate them into just about every meal.  On my sandwiches, in my salads, as a salad, or in this case, made into a delicious salsa.  I used this salsa on fish tacos, but it would be good on just about anything!  Grilled steak, scooped over some crisp greens, or even just with chips.  It’s easy and delicious!

I used a colorful combination of grape, pear, and cherry tomatoes because I like their shape and they are easy to work with.  Store tomatoes on your countertop at room temperature.  The cold refrigerator can impact their flavor, but if you cannot eat them within a few days, put them in the fridge for longer storage.  I also used an avocado, which adds a creamy texture and rich flavor to the salsa. When choosing an avocado, give it a little squeeze, and if your thumb can make a slight indent, its ripe (or nearly so).  If it’s hard as a rock, choose another one, or else store on your countertop until it softens.

Late Summer Salsa

Makes approximately 2-3 cups

1 pint grape, pear, or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters

1 ripe avocado, diced

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 lime, juiced

olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve as a dip, or over any grilled meat or fish.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.


In Season: Blueberries

August 15, 2008

The rain was coming down in sheets on Saturday, the day I normally head to the farmers market to pick up my CSA farm share.  The market is scheduled to run rain or shine, but since lightening and tents with metal poles are probably not a good combination, everything was on hold until the skies cleared.  A few hours later, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, so I headed over to see what Lexi at Gazy Brothers Farm had for me this week.

The rain had kept most people away that day, so Lexi had a surplus of produce.  Rather than have to bring so much back to the farm, she was nice enough to offer up some extras to me for braving the elements.  As a result, I ended up with three huge containers of freshly picked blueberries, plus lots of veggies including corn, red onions, fresh basil, tomatoes, and a gorgeous, perfect looking purple eggplant.

The first container instantly disappeared when I set them out for my little ones and some of their buddies.  The second container made its way into a triple batch of blueberry muffin bread (adapted from a recipe in How To Bake by Nick Malgieri), and I saved the third container for an unusual but delicious salad. 

Years ago, I’d written down the idea for this salad on a piece of scrap paper which ended up stuffed in the front of my overflowing recipe box.  I’d all but forgotten about it until one day I decided to organize all the stray recipes I’d written down, ripped out, and recycled.  Unfortunately, I have no recollection as to where this particular recipe originated.  I may have eaten it at a restaurant, seen it in a photo, or read about it in a magazine or newspaper article.  Whatever its source, it made an impression on me, prompting me to scratch out an ingredient list on that stray piece of paper. 

It’s a good thing I reorganized my recipe box when I did, considering blueberries are in the peak of their season.  The salad features blueberries as the main ingredient, and is paired with tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette.  It may seem strange to put vinegar on fruit, but it’s actually a classic!  Italians love strawberries with balsamic vinegar, which is another surprisingly delicious combination.   

So, revel in the blueberry bounty!  It’s great alongside fish, chicken, or steak, or perfect as a picnic salad.

Blueberry & Tomato Salad

Serves 4

1 pint blueberries

½ pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Combine berries and tomatoes in a bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and add to salad.  Toss again and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Thanks to MeetaK for the top photo of blueberries.

In Season: Corn

August 12, 2008

  It is no wonder I love corn….I grew up in upstate New York where corn fields are pretty much everywhere.  It is the main crop that most farmers in that area grow, and in August, the roadside farm stands overflow with corn on the cob, piled high and deep.  We loved the Schoharie County corn, which my parents always said was superior to everything else around.  They basically refused to buy corn anywhere but from one particular farm stand, where my family alone probably kept them flush during the off-season.  In August, we pretty much ate corn almost every night.  Who could resist?  “Butter-and-sugar” was our variety of choice, which we boiled in sugared water for seven, eight, or nine minutes, depending on who you asked.

 We were corn purists—and put nothing but butter on our cobs.  When I met my husband, I was shocked to see that he ate his “straight up” without any condiments.  Over the years, I’ve come around to his way of thinking, and now enjoy the corn in all its naked glory.   A good cob needs no embellishment, and since my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, who needs the extra calories of butter?   However, I will admit that the other night while eating out at a local supper club, I had some extraordinary corn on the cob.  It was perfectly cooked (a rare thing at a restaurant), gently bathed in butter, and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and ground chipotle pepper.  Fabulous!   I’m definitely using that at my next dinner party. 

What I did use at my last dinner party was this Corn Panzanella Salad.   By cutting the corn off the cob after cooking and combining it with tomatoes, basil, and homemade “croutons”, you have a colorful and healthy salad which is substantial enough to serve as a main dish during lunch or for a light dinner.   It’s a perfect way to celebrate the season’s bounty!

Corn Panzanella Salad

Serves 4

4 ears fresh corn, husked

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

4 slices country bread, cut into cubes

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons + ¼ cup olive oil

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook corn for 7 minutes, or until just tender.  Remove from water and allow to cool.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife to shear the kernels off the cob.  Place corn in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, toss cubed bread with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on a small baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until bread is nicely toasted and crunchy.  Allow to cool somewhat.

Add the croutons, tomatoes and basil to the bowl with the corn, and mix to combine.

In a small bowl or mixing cup, make a vinaigrette by whisking together balsamic vinegar, remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Thanks to “catchesthelight” for the top photo of the corn cob.

In Season: Tomatoes

August 8, 2008

During the summertime, tomatoes are everywhere and at the peak of freshness, so take advantage of the bounty!  This week at the farmers market there were a few different varieties of tomatoes, including Beefsteak, Ugli (an heirloom variety), and cherry tomatoes-both red and yellow.  Naturally, I had to get some of each.  Not only do I love summer tomatoes, fresh off the vine, I especially love the fragrance that lingers on your fingers after picking a tomato off the vine.  I think if colors had a scent, this is what green would smell like.  Spring green– not Kelly green or hunter green.  A light green with lots of yellow.  Like the line in that poem “nature’s first green is gold”.  That is the smell you’re left with after picking a fresh tomato.

I love a classic Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil,) — red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag.  I decided to use these same flavors to make a summery pasta salad, which I served alongside grilled flank steak.  By using both red and yellow tomatoes, cubed fresh mozzarella, and a basil pesto vinaigrette, I pay homage to the original, but give it a new twist.  Any pasta shape will do, but I like the mini penne, or “pennette” for this dish.  You could also use mini rigatoni, shells, or orechette.  I like to match the shape and size of the pasta to the other ingredients in the salad.  Since for this dish I’m using cherry-tomatoes and cubed mozzarella, I favor a short, shaped pasta as opposed to a long strand pasta.  It just seems to work better—and aesthetically, looks more appealing.

The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge, or even frozen for a longer period of time.  The tomatoes should be fresh-and never refrigerated.  It kills the fresh taste.  As for the mozzarella…be sure to use fresh, not the rubbery kind found in the dairy section of the grocery store.  Buffalo mozzarella has the fullest flavor, but other varieties are perfectly okay if you can’t find buffalo.  Just look for the kind that comes in the plastic container surrounded by water.  The texture is softer and has more moisture, and the taste is incredible.  The rubbery stuff is great for grating, but when cubing, look for the fresh variety.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Serves 6

1 lb. pasta (mini penne or rigatoni, shells, orechetti)

1 bunch basil

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 clove garlic

Olive oil


2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 pint cherry tomatoes (red, yellow, or a combination), halved

6-8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

 Set a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir.  Set aside and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place garlic and pine nuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times until finely chopped.

Add basil and pulse again until finely chopped.

With blades running, add olive oil in a steady stream, until a sauce-like consistency is created.

Stir in salt, pepper, and vinegar. Add a 1-2 extra tablespoons of olive oil, stir, and set aside. 

Place pasta in a large bowl and add pesto vinaigrette.  Mix to combine.  Add tomatoes and mozzarella cubes, and gently stir again until everything is incorporated.  Serve at room temperature.