Posts tagged ‘Tomatoes’

August 24, 2012

Tomato Bruschetta

As promised, here is one of my favorite go-to recipes of all time. Seriously, if I have to take something to a party or am making something for someone new, this almost always make an appearance. This bruschetta is easy and so pretty. I always get compliments on both the presentation and the taste. You will never have worked so little for such a great result! It is also, conveniently, the PERFECT time of year for tomatoes! Ours are just coming off the vine and we have gotten some from our CSA as well. There is just nothing like homegrown tomatoes! Do you make a version of this? I would love some new variation ideas!



6 or 7 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Shaved parmesan cheese

1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread

Chop the tomatoes fairly small and combine with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit for 15 min – several hours. (You can make the topping well in advance and assemble once you arrive at your destination or when your guests arrive.) Slice the bread into 1″ slices and lightly toast under the broiler or on the grill, turning once. You can brush lightly with olive oil if desired, though I do think you usually can get good results without the additional oil. Just make sure to keep an eye on it!! We have burned LOTS of bread in this house! Once the bread is toasted, distribute the topping over the bread. Top with more fresh basil and shaved parmesan. Enjoy!

September 27, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore Stew

So you got yourself some San Marzano tomatoes to try out, now what? We took some bell peppers , onions and lots of fresh herbs, combined them with chicken and made a version of chicken cacciatore. Only missing the mushrooms, but if you have some, include those as well. The tomatoes were so silky, it made a beautiful sauce. With some crunchy bread to soak up the sauce, it was a wonderful meal. It really turned into more of a stew than your traditional chicken cacciatore, which turned out to be a great spin on it! This is a great fall dish, let us know how yours turns out.


Chicken Cacciatore Stew

1 Bunch of various fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary)

4 Cloves of garlic

1 White onion, sliced

3 Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), seeds removed and sliced

3 Carrots, sliced on an angle

3 Ribs of celery, sliced on an angle

1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, stem end removed and lightly crushed

1 lb. thin cut chicken breasts

¼ cup flour

2 T. olive oil

4 T. butter

Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add peeled garlic cloves and sauté until lightly browned. Add sliced onion, bell peppers and allow to soften slightly, then add carrots and celery.

Add prepared tomatoes and herbs and allow to simmer while preparing the chicken.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off any extra. Heat 2 T of butter in a pot. Place half of the chicken breasts in the pot and allow to brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the cooked chicken, set aside and repeat with the second batch. Remove the chicken and slice lengthwise. Wipe out the pot if need be and then add the pepper mixture and the chicken to the pot.

Allow to simmer about 10 minutes to meld the ingredients.

Serve with some good bread and enjoy!

September 26, 2011

San Marzano Tomatoes

Every once in a while we come across a product worthy of sharing with you. These are things that we love to use, if you know about them, we would love to hear what you think!! San Marzano tomatoes are some of the most famous in the world. This brand is something we came across in a lovely shop in our area. Try them out for yourself!



La Valle Tomatoes

Years ago I saw these tomatoes on “Follow That Food“. Only thing …it was impossible to get in my area, without paying twice the cost in shipping. I finally saw these recently and bought a couple cans to see if they were really any better.

Usually I get a restaurant sized can of tomatoes at Costco (Hunt’s I think?). I crush them by hand and remove the flower end of the tomato core. It’s good and I get a large pot of marinara out of one can.

Initial Impression:

Opened the can of La Valle tomatoes and I did notice a difference. The sauce was a rich, silky tomato puree. The broth in the other version was very watery so I’d set it aside and not add it all, so I didn’t get the sauce too watery.

The Work:

Proceeded to remove the cores and that was the second difference. The unusable part was small. When removing the cores in the Costco  version,  almost 25% of the can was filled with cores. In the la Valle version, there was just a little. They didn’t even fill the bottom of the can.

Cooking:  I made a sort of chicken catiatore, but no mushrooms, more of a chicken and peppers dish. (To be shared with you soon, stay posted!)

It was simple so you could taste the tomatoes. Just sautéed chicken, onions and mixed peppers and herbs. It came out fantastic. The tomatoes were sweet, silky and had a kind of earthy background flavor.

Overall, I thought they were great. Worth the money if you can afford it. If not use the Costco version and perhaps add a little tomato paste.


September 4, 2011

Summer Shrimp

Vacationing in Aspen, we came across some beautiful Olathe sweet corn. Our Colorado corn can be really good at the end of summer. Lazy day rummaging through my hosts’ cookbook collection I found a side dish to try. Only thing was that we wanted a main dish. The recipe (from Gourmet) admonished the reader not to try to improve it . Hmmph. A challenge. What we ended up with was nothing like the original. I decided to use our favorite way to spice up something bland; marinate it in hot sauce. We didn’t have Franks Wing Sauce that day and we used an exotic Hawaiian hot sauce, though I can’t remember the name. Franks always works though. I tried it again when I got home and it was still great.

Summer Shrimp

1lb shrimp.

4 ears corn

Basil and or mint


1-2 Large Tomatoes

Franks Wing Sauce (regular)




Peel the shrimp if necessary. Pour ¼ c. Franks Wing Sauce in a bowl. Add shrimp. Set aside to let marinate while preparing the rest.

Remove the corn from the ears. A bundt pan helps here putting the corn in the circle and scrape down so the kernals fall into the pan.

Melt 1T butter in a frying pan, add 1T olive oil.

Drain the shrimp, leaving the residual sauce on. Saute shrimp until pink and curled, about 2 minutes. Sometimes the shrimp will exude liquid. If that happens reduce the sauce or drain again.

Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside. Melt one more Tablespoon of butter to the shrimp pan, now empty. Add corn and sauté for 2 minutes, or till warm. Add the reserved shrimp and chopped tomatoes. Pepper generously and salt with celtic salt.

Remove from heat and tear basil and mint on top and serve.

It’s super fresh this way. But a little bacon would be nice…


August 8, 2011

Basics: Peeling Tomatoes

Every once in a while we want to include some basic cooking skills; just in case you don’t already know. Some recent recipe recently called for peeled tomatoes and I thought I would share the technique. Why bother? Well sometimes you don’t want to chomp on the skin; like in a delicate salad, a refined bruschetta or silky tomato sauce. The technique: bring a pot of water to a boil. I like to take the core out first using a strawberry huller. I think it makes it easier to peel. Drop the hulled tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-30 seconds, depending on how thick the skin is.

You will see the skin begin to split. Pull out with a slotted spoon and immediately put in ice water or under cold dripping faucet.

The skin should easily come off in your hands.

Then you need to decide if you need the seeds or don’t want them. If you don’t want them, cut the tomatoes in half and slip your fingers under the seed packet and pull it out. If there is a pale vein in the middle take that out too. So you should be left with a filet of tomato. Then chop coarsely or proceed with whatever your purpose is. Bruschetta with basil, garlic and olive oil is hard to beat! This is also great on grilled pizza; look out for that later this week!!


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