My friend gave me a bit of this lovely roasted pepper tomato tapenade she made. Ooh it was delicious! I tried spreading it on toast with melted cheese over top. Yum. I put it on a sandwich. Oh yes! I imagined all the things I could do with this scrumptious spread: it would be lovely in lasagna and all sorts of appetizers (little toasts! yes!) and pizzas and things. I only had a tiny bit that she gave me … but … she had told me what she put in it … tomatillos, sundried & fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil … hmmm …
I still had four of the tomatillos she gave me and a couple fresh garden tomatoes, and oh yes, peppers from mom’s garden … and I even had some of the “sundried” tomatoes (that I dried in the oven), so I thought I would see if I could make a tapenade.
I threw in some fresh herbs and capers for good measure. It’s not exactly like her tapenade, but even if I had had her recipe on hand, I am sure I wouldn’t have followed it precisely. I just can’t properly follow a recipe!
I want to thank my dear friend Denise for giving me her marvelous tapenade … which spurred me to try making it. What a wonderful spread!
Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade
The best way to roast the peppers, tomatillos and tomato for this tapenade is on the grill, but you could also roast them in the oven.
- 1 medium fresh garden tomato
- 3 roma tomatoes
- 4 tomatillos
- 1 large bell pepper
- 1 hot pepper (I used this big hot red pepper my mom gave me similar to a New Mexico Green Chile, only it’s red … but I think you could use any hot — or not so hot — red pepper)
- 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Several sprigs of rosemary
- A couple sprigs of tarragon
- A few fresh basil leaves
- 1 – 2 tablespoons capers
- Heat up the grill and set the tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers directly over the heat. Roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and black (make sure you turn them to roast all sides of the vegies!) and the tomatoes are soft. This should only take a few minutes if your grill is good and hot.
- Let the roasted vegies cool for a bit till they are cool enough to handle, then cut out the stem & core of the peppers and tomatoes, leaving the charred skin ON.
- Pop all the ingredients except the capers in a handi chopper or food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Pour the tapenade into a bowl and stir in the capers. Add salt if you like … I didn’t think it needed any.
- Serve on toast or crackers, use as a sauce for pizza, stir it into the ricotta mixture for your lasagna, use it as a tasty sandwich spread … or just let your imagination run wild.
This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Gala Dinner Party, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and All my Bloggy Friends.
When Sonali at The Foodie Physician posted this Pesto Rosso, I was immediately taken with it. Suddenly I wanted nothing but to make her lovely red pesto. With all the fresh garden tomatoes in my kitchen at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to go buy sundried tomatoes to make this, so I decided to try oven-drying some of them. It worked! I got some really lovely oven-dried tomatoes out of it. I didn’t pack them in oil, though. I just stuck them in a bag and put them in the fridge. They softened up a bit in the fridge, but much to my joy, they had the same lovely sundried tomato taste. So I used them in the pesto rosso and it turned out just as wonderful as I had imagined.
If you want to try oven-drying your tomatoes, here is the post from Love the secret ingredient on how to “sun” dry your tomatoes in the oven. She says it takes 5-6 hours, but it took my tomatoes about 9 hours to dry. I think it really depends on your oven.
Here are some suggestions from Sonali at The Foodie Physician on how to use this marvelous tomato-based pesto:
- Mix with a little pasta water and toss with hot pasta. Top with shredded Parmesan. Instant dinner!
- Spread it on hot or cold sandwiches- anything from turkey sandwiches to grilled cheese
- Top grilled chicken breasts, fish or other meats with it
- Mix it with a little ricotta or goat cheese and use it as a stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops (or lasagna!)
- Add flavor to vegetarian or egg dishes- try stirring a spoonful into sautéed vegetables or a frittata
- Mix it with Greek yogurt to make a healthy dip for vegetables or chips
- Spread it on garlic bread for an extra hit of flavor
- Use it onto homemade pizza dough as an alternative to tomato sauce
- Spread it on toasted country bread and top it off with some arugula and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano for a healthy snack (actually, it’s great on bread all by itself!)
I think it would also be marvelous to stir a spoonful or two into an Italian soup, or use a spoonful as a beautiful & tasty garnish on top of a thick, creamy soup.
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Several fresh basil leaves
- A sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 5 ounces small tomatoes (cherry or grape would work well … I had some tiny romas from mom’s garden that seemed perfect)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese (Sonali recommends Parmigiano Reggiano, but I had Asiago on hand …)
- Place the almonds, sundried tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs in a handi chopper or food processor. Pulse several times until everything is finely chopped.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and olive oil and process until the tomatoes are finely chopped. (Sonali says to add the olive oil in a steady stream while the processor is on … my handi chopper doesn’t allow for that.)
- Add the cheese and pulse just a couple times to mix it in fully.
Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking has a monthly challenge for food bloggers. She asks all of us to make one certain thing on the 7th of each month … the idea is we are searching for the ultimate recipe for that one thing. This month it’s ranch dressing. Ranch I can do! I’ve made plain ranch, garlic ranch, avocado ranch, sundried tomato ranch … they were all really good, but this time I thought I would like to add some tahini (sesame seed paste) to the ranch and then lighten it up by cutting the amount of mayonnaise down. The tahini along with the fresh herbs adds such a complexity of flavor that you won’t even notice the mayo went away. This salad dressing makes an excellent dressing for just about any savory salad or a good dip for veggies or chips.
The tomato cucumber salad uses the fresh garden ingredients that are overflowing in my house right now: tomato and cucumber. I added some sweet onion, toasted walnuts and edam cheese because I thought they would taste wonderful with the fresh tomato & cucumber.
Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
For each salad:
- 1 – 2 tomatoes, that roughly match the diameter of the cucumber, cut into slices
- 1/2 – 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- A couple thin slices of sweet onion
- A few thin slices of edam cheese, cut into small rectangles
- A couple tablespoons of walnuts, toasted
- A couple Tablespoons of Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
- First make the dressing.
- Then prep the salad by alternately layering slices of cucumber and tomato on your plate. If it’s a round plate, simply follow the curve of the plate, then tuck the last tomato or cucumber under the starting one.
- Top with sweet onion slices, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle each “row” of tomato/cucumber slices with a bit of the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
- To eat the salad, take a slice of cucumber, slice of tomato and make sure to get a little onion, cheese, walnuts and dressing on top. It’s a little messy when you’re eating it, but SO worth it!
Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.
In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
This is a Crazy Cooking Challenge post. Click on the button to see all the other wonderful ranch dressings.
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I am guest posting over at Stacy Makes Cents! Stacy contacted me back in June to ask if I would do a guest post for her in August … something made in the crockpot. The only things she asked were:
- Not a recipe already on the site
- Submitted a week in advance of your date
- Only use whole food ingredients
I thought that’s no sweat! I can totally handle that … Well, time went by and the date she had given me as a deadline came and went and I hadn’t sent her anything. You know how life gets so busy … this guest post completely slipped my mind! So I totally failed on the “submitted a week in advance” part, but I did make a new recipe with whole foods!
So head on over to Stacy’s blog for the recipe.
with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil
Yikes! I’m caught up a double alphabet challenge! One on facebook that is a daily A-Z health challenge … and then there’s this monthly “Eating the Alphabet” challenge that I just started last month and I really don’t want to miss out on this month since I JUST started.
The monthly “Eat your Alphabet” challenge is focused on the letters M, N, and O this month. Given that I’ve been racking my brain DAILY for “what food starts with this letter”, you think this would be easy, but I’m only on the letter K on the DAILY challenge … and this is a few days ahead of that. I don’t plan that far in advance (most of the time)! I suppose it’s good to think about it now, right? Head start on the daily thing?
So first I thought melon … hey, a watermelon margarita sounds yummy! … but then I spent a couple days gazing at gazillions of amazing photos of garlic and pasta and such, so I had NOODLES on my mind … so I decided to go with something with ONION (for the O) and NOODLES (for the N) … hey that’s a DOUBLE “eat the alphabet” win … and then I threw in another double plus: double garlic! Yeah! This is getting waaay too synergistic now … and then I threw some fresh garden tomatoes and basil on top … just for good measure.
Don’t worry too much over the amount of garlic in here: roasting the garlic makes a very mild, creamy flavor that is just wonderful in the sauce.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention! There’s a bit of zucchini in there too. Cuz, well, I’m all about zucchini lately. I still have two more from my sister to use up and I’m going to my parents’ house soon and they will give me more! We are not through with zucchini mania just quite yet … if you happen to be making this dish outside of zucchini season, I would suggest replacing the zucchini some other mashed cooked winter squash such as pumpkin or butternut.
Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles
with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil. I think this would serve about 4 people. I have had it for two meals so far and there is still plenty left. It reheats pretty nicely, by the way.
The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift given to me from Dofino cheese. It’s such a good cheese for making the sauce extra creamy because it melts really well and adds a little extra smoky flavor to the dish.
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 of an onion, sliced fine (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
- 3 paper-thin slices of prosciutto
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- about 1/4 cup white wine
- 4 teaspoons of flour
- 2 cups lowfat milk
- 1/4 cup shredded Smoked Havarti cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
- 1 – 2 cups fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
- a handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used tarragon, rosemary, thyme and basil)
- 1/2 lb. angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini pasta (whole grain or gluten free noodles are cool!)
- Garnish: Fresh, sliced basil leaves + a little freshly shredded asiago
- Cut the top off the head of garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, put in a small oven-safe bowl, cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 F. for about an hour or until the garlic is completely soft. Set aside to cool while you start the sauce, but don’t turn the oven off. We’ll be roasting the tomatoes shortly too.
- Prepare all your vegies and heat up the water boiling for the pasta.
- Spray a skillet pan with cooking spray, then drizzle with a little olive oil and add the onions. Sautee over medium heat till the onions are soft and translucent, add a little wine, cover and cook for a minute, uncover and stir till the wine has evaporated. Repeat this process till the onions are lightly brown and the wine is gone. Remove the pan from the heat just for a moment while you tend to the tomato and pasta.
- Set the chopped tomato in a small baking dish coated with cooking spray and set it in the oven to roast while you finish up the sauce. Hopefully the water is boiling by now? Start the pasta cooking. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mash it with a fork.
- Back to the skillet pan: Add the raw garlic, prosciutto and zucchini, set it back on the medium heat and sautee for about 5 minutes longer. Add the mashed garlic and stir it into the brown mess of vegies. It will all look sort of ugly at this point. Don’t despair! It will get prettier.
- Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegies in the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and add the milk. Stir until the sauce starts to thicken, then add the cheeses and cook just a few minutes longer till the cheese is melted. Stir in the herbs, reserving some basil for garnish.
- Remove the sauce from the heat. Now, the noodles should be about done by now, so drain them, then stir the noodles into the sauce. Put in a serving bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil and a little shredded asiago. Serve hot.
This post is for the Eating the Alphabet challenge
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This recipe was also shared at Tastetastic Thursday.
This soup is one of the best things to make when you’re feeling sick. I haven’t made it in years, but it was one of those things that has always made me feel better, not just because it’s full of loads of good vitamins and herbs, but also because it tastes soothing and comforting and warm. It’s so tasty, you don’t really need to be sick to make it. But it will help you feel better if you are.
I have struggled with sinus problems for a good part of my adult life … there was a period in my life when I was getting a sinus infection every month. As soon as I would get done with one, I was getting another one. I was on a constant stream of antibiotics and always felt miserable. I’ve learned ways of coping with it now so I haven’t had one now in over a year, but this morning I woke up and I could feel one coming on … this is NOT a good time to be sick! My sister is coming to visit this weekend … I started thinking of all the things I used to do to make them go away and I remembered this soup I used to make.
The last time I made this soup was long before I had all the fresh herbs I have now and I don’t exactly recall what herbs I used to put in it back then. I remember the basic formula for it, though. And this is how it goes …
Magic “Feel Better” Soup
- 1 large potato, cut into hunks (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups of fresh swiss chard or spinach, washed and chopped
- A handful of fresh herbs: I used basil, thyme, rosemary, & parsley
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt or fat free half and half
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (to open up the sinuses)
- Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (optional)
- Put the potato, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, onion and broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer (medium low) and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the potato is fall-apart tender and the other vegies are soft.
- Fish out the bay leaf and stir in the chard. Cover the pot and cook for just a couple minutes or until the chard is cooked. Add the herbs.
- Pour the soup into a blender (or use an immersion blender), add the yogurt or half and half and blend until smooth. Add more broth if you want a thinner soup. I like my soup pretty thick. Serve hot, topped with Sriracha and shredded cheese and garnish with fresh parsley. That red swirl you see there … that’s the Sriracha.
Your Child’s Food made a Thai-inspired version of this soup that is dairy free. I really love her twist on it! Her recipe is here.
I made this sangria last weekend and finished it off last night and I miss it already. I am going to have to go get more fruit so I can make it again … the recipe came to me when I read my friend Ann’s recipe for classic Spanish Sangria. It looked so good, but of course I had to mess with it. I can never follow a recipe. I had to add some of my current obsessions … cherries. and rosemary. yes. wouldn’t that be perfect in Sangria? OMG, it was … soooo perfect.
(Slight basil tangent here, but bear with me, this will make sense later …) Last weekend at my party when I was explaining to one of my friends “what that taste was” in the watermelon sorbet … (basil) … and also mentioning that I put basil in my daughter’s berry syrup for the Italian Cream Sodas … he said (jokingly) “Ann, it sounds like you need a basil intervention!” … I laughed so hard! … yes, I probably do … I really love basil … (and can you believe I didn’t even mention the basil gelato!)
Of course then I mentioned this basil intervention joke on facebook and another friend said I need an intervention for roasted garlic and rosemary too. Yes, he’s right. On both counts. I have two garlic cookbooks from the Gilroy Garlic Festival (which I dream of attending someday!) … and I have a rosemary plant that I tend in a pot year round so I ALWAYS have rosemary. Yes, you could definitely say I have a rosemary obsession. I recently discovered it goes very well in drinks. Water (yes, water! put a sprig of rosemary in a jar of water in your fridge in the morning … it adds such a lovely flavor to it!), cocktails, and now, sangria. I have yet to try it in tea, but yes, I will try that too.
So this beautiful dark red sangria features two of my current obsessions: rosemary and cherries. It has been years since I’ve had fresh, sweet cherries so I am reveling in them.
Red Cherry Rosemary Sangria
Adapted from the Fountain Avenue Kitchen
- 1 lime, halved and sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 2 handfuls of sweet cherries
- 1 tablespoon rosemary syrup (recipe here)
- 1 bottle fruity red wine (I used a bottle of my dad’s Trinity Red)
- 1/2 cup berry or cherry brandy (I used my mulberry liqueur)
- 1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
- A couple sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 cup seltzer or club soda, chilled
- ice cubes
- In a large pitcher or bowl, add the lime and some cherries. Muddle the fruit a bit with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the seltzer or club soda and ice.
- Chill several hours or overnight. Just before serving, stir in seltzer or club soda and ice. What I did, actually, was as I mixed each glass, I put a few cubes of ice in the glass, add some fruit from the sangria, add a bit more ice and fruit, then pour in the sangria to fill 3/4 of the glass and put a splash of club soda over each glass.
This is my self-portrait/blooper shot. Do you see me there?