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Showing posts with label roasted tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roasted tomatoes. Show all posts

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ugly Tomatoes Make Beautiful Meals

In the winter or spring farmers markets, you've passed them by with a disapproving look. Blemished fresh tomatoes. Discounted to a dollar or less, these unhappy looking suitors for your attention appear destined to become compost.
Occasionally you will see someone who has stopped at the bin looking through the misshapen mound and you probably think they are too poor to buy the perfectly red, perfectly shaped tomatoes grown in a hot house.

The truth is, there are treasures hidden there. Find tomatoes that are firm and only slightly blemished and you will have found diamonds in the rough. They lack summer's full-blasted brightness. but tomatoes grown during winter and spring's weaker sun grow thicker skins and develop a rich, deep umami flavor.
Oven roasted, these tomatoes find sweetness hidden deep within. The acid so prized in summer tomatoes is mellowed and sweetened in off-season farmers market tomatoes.

But treat these tomatoes with care. Brought home from the farmers market and left on the kitchen counter in the sun, they will quickly soften and turn bad. They are used to cold, so place them in the refrigerator and they will last days and even a week until you are ready to use them roasted as a side dish for braised meat, tossed with pasta, served on steamed rice or mixed into soups, stews and braises.

Roasted Winter/Spring Tomatoes

Check each tomato carefully. You want firm tomatoes. A few blemishes are ok because those can be easily removed with a sharp pairing knife. 

Heirloom tomatoes are especially flavorful.

Summer tomatoes can be roasted with a similar but different result. 

Serves 4

Time to prepare: 10 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

3 pounds tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion, washed, skins, root and stem ends removed and discarded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, leaves only, washed, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Prepare a baking tray with a small lip (about 1/2"). Lay a Silpat (non-stick silicone) sheet or a piece of parchment paper onto the bottom of the baking tray.
Using a sharp pairing knife, remove the stem and spot on the bottom where the blossom was attached. Remove any dark blemishes and discard.

Cut into 1" slabs. Place slabs onto the prepared baking tray.

Cut onion in half, cutting from top to bottom. Cut thin slices by cutting from top to bottom. Place in mixing bowl. Season with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix with Italian parsley.

Spread onion-parsley mixture over tomatoes.

Place baking tray into oven.

After 15 minutes, using a spatula or flipper, turn the slabs over. Keep onion-parsley mixture on top to brown. Return to oven.

Remove after 15 minutes.

The onion-parsley mixture should have lightly browned. Carefully remove the slabs which are now very delicate from the pan. Reserve the onion-parsley mixture and all of the liquid that has accumulated in the pan. This is full of tomato-essence
flavor.

To use as a side-dish, reheat and serve in a bowl. The roasted tomatoes are delicious when added to soups, stews and braises.

If not used immediately, keep the roasted tomatoes in an air-tight container. They will keep in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for a month.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Roasted Roma Tomatoes and Turkey Pot Pies for the Day After Thanksgiving

I am amazed that it's time to order a Thanksgiving turkey already. 2016 went by very quickly.

Happily in the fall, I was busy traveling for writing assignments and video taping chefs in their kitchens showing me their favorite recipes.

For Thanksgiving I am using a new recipe from one of those experiences.

This recipe is insanely easy and incredibly delicious: slow roasted Roma tomatoes used on sandwiches. When I was working on a profile of chef Andrew Pastore at Clifton's in downtown Los Angeles, to appreciate his menu I ate at the restaurant on the first floor, which is actually a cafeteria. I ate a rare roast beef sandwich that was excellent. The meat was perfectly cooked, moist and tender. But what made the sandwich memorable was the addition of these slow roasted Roma tomatoes.
 Putting the slow roasted tomatoes on a sliced turkey sandwich would be awesome!

With chef Pastore, I wanted him to demonstrate his turkey pot pie, a dish he serves every day at Clifton's and one I thought would be perfect for after Thanksgiving. I wrote the article about Pastore for Zester Daily. Please take a look. The recipe is really easy. The dish is delicious. And the video is fun.

Festive Pot Pies Celebrate Thanksgiving Leftovers
Slow Roasted Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes work really well for this technique because they hold their shape even as they are exposed to prolonged heat. After they are cooked, I remove the skin. I've used them on sandwiches (of course!) but also cut up in pastas, in soups and in braises. They add a great umami quality.
The amount of time in the oven depends on the size of the tomatoes. Large Roma tomatoes could take 8 hours. Smaller ones, maybe only 4 hours. Check them after 3 hours. What you want is for the tomato to collapse on itself so the flavors concentrate as the water evaporates. You do not want them dried out so they resemble sun dried tomatoes. They should have a pulpy moistness.

With the larger Roma tomatoes, I put them in the oven before I go to sleep. When I wake up in the morning, the house is filled with the most delicious aroma.

Yield 8 servings

Time to prepare: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 4-8 hours

Total time: 4 hours 5 minutes - 8 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

8 large Roma tomatoes, washed, pat dried

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Cut each tomato in half, the long ways, from the stem to the bottom.

Lay the tomato halves cut side up on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.

Season with oregano, sea salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Place in oven. Check after 3 hours, then every hour after that.

Remove and cool. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alaskan Halibut in a Roasted Tomato-Spinach-Shiitake Mushroom Sauté

When the Deadliest Catch first aired, I watched with morbid curiosity as the crews manhandled heavy metal cages. Those cages sometimes swung wildly in the air, smashing against the ship's bulkhead, threatening to hospitalize crew members.

Many times, risking life and limb did not have the hoped for payoff when the cages contained the ocean's odds and ends rather than the prized catch of Alaskan king crab.

When luck was with them, a cage would be filled with crabs, their pointed, armored legs poking out at any hand that risked a close encounter.

After that, when I ordered a crab cocktail I had newfound respect for my food. The crab meat might be delicate and sweet, but the effort it took to snatch it from the icy, turbulent ocean was marked by sweat, fear and danger.

On so many levels, when I am cooking or about to eat, I am happy to be ignorant of the difficult work it takes to get the food from ocean or farm to my table.

Recently, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute made it easy for me. They offered to send a box of Alaska seafood for me to prepare and write about.

Certainly I had bought, cooked and eaten Alaskan seafood before because it is available from local purveyors big (Ralphs and Gelson's) and small (Malibu Seafood).
From the extensive seafood available in Alaskan waters, I was offered king crab (how could I refuse!), halibut, cod, salmon and scallops. When the samples arrived, I happily opened the super-sized box to find the two pound vacuum packed packages of seafood perfectly chilled by dry ice and freezer packs.

I began my Alaskan adventure with the halibut.
Halibut with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Spinach and Shiitake Mushrooms

A thick filet can be cut into smaller pieces or prepared whole, which in this instance, meant a piece just under two pounds in weight. I liked the idea of cooking the filet whole and then slicing manageable pieces for serving.
A key ingredient is the roasted tomato sauce. You can certainly buy canned sauce, but homemade roasted tomato sauce is wonderfully easy to make, tastes much better than any commercial version and can be prepared and refrigerated several days in advance or frozen weeks or even months before using.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 pounds halibut filet
1 bunch spinach, roots removed, washed to remove grit
4 large ripe tomatoes, washed, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, washed, ends and skins removed, finely chopped
6 shallots or 1 medium yellow onion, washed, ends trimmed and skins removed, roughly chopped
1/4 pound or 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, washed and pat dried, roughly chopped or thin sliced
1 tablespoon sweet butter
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with a nonstick Silpat sheet, parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Bake 1 hour. Remove and let cool.
The liquid in the bottom of the baking tray is a combination of seasoned olive oil and a clear liquid given off by tomatoes when they cook. Set up a food mill or a fine mesh stainer over a non-reactive bowl.  Pour the olive oil-tomato liquid into the food mill/strainer and add the cooked tomatoes.

Press the tomatoes through the mill/strainer, using a rubber spatula to collect all of the pulp on the bottom side of the mill/strainer.  Discard the seeds and skin or use with other ingredients to make a delicious vegetable stock.

Place the roasted tomato sauce aside in a sealed container. If not used immediately, refrigerate up to several days or freeze.

Defrost, wash and pat dry the halibut and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Many people discard spinach stems. I prefer to use them. Finely chop the stems and sauté until lightly browned. Add the shiitake mushrooms, onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the frying pan.

Once the leaves have begun to wilt, add the roasted tomato sauce (between 1 and 1 1/2 cups) and sweet butter. Simmer for ten minutes. Taste and adjust with sea salt and pepper as needed.

The halibut filet can be grilled on a barbecue or sautéed in a frying pan with similar results.  If you are using a barbecue, to prevent the fish from sticking, be certain to apply oil to the grill. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil on a paper towel and liberally rub across the grill.

If you are using a frying pan, use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on a medium flame.

Using a large metal spatula to carefully lift the fish without leaving any of the flesh behind, lightly brown the filet on both sides.

Place the halibut on a cutting board and carefully slice the filet into large pieces.  Place on a serving platter and top with the heated vegetable sauté.

Serve with freshly cooked pasta or rice or with fresh baked French bread.

Variations

Along with the vegetables, sauté one piece of bacon, finely chopped, until lightly browned.

For a Spanish style flavor, season the vegetable sauté with 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

For heat, season the vegetable sauté with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer Vegetable Risotto

With summer vegetables appearing in the farmers' markets, a vegetable risotto is a perfect way to feature the bounty of the garden.

This past Sunday at the Palisades Farmers' Market, we picked up several ears of fresh corn and some baby zucchini. We also bought carrots, spinach, Italian parsley, scallions, green garlic, squash, asparagus, English peas, spinach, and broccoli, any of which would be good in the risotto.

To make risotto requires a variety of rice--Carnaroli, Violone or Arborio-- with a high starch content, the source of risotto's distinctive creamy quality.

For the liquid, you have a lot of choices: vegetable, chicken, meat, or fish stock, wine, even water with a pat of butter added for flavor. You'll achieve the best results if you use homemade stock with its fresher taste and lower sodium content.

Risotto likes a steady hand, stirring frequently for 18-20 minutes. Because the rice both releases starches into and absorbs the stock, there is a window of a few minutes when the rice is simultaneously al dente and the broth creamy. Past that point, the grains bond together, becoming gummy like porridge, which still tastes good but isn't risotto.

Those last moments are crucial and the rice wants all your attention. Whatever you want to add to the risotto should either cook in a few minutes like spinach or be prepared ahead and added in those last moments.

Serve immediately because the rice will keep absorbing the broth even after you've removed the risotto from the stove.

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 large tomato, washed
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels removed
4 baby zucchini, washed, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto
3 1/2 cups homemade stock, vegetable, chicken, fish, meat, or wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sweet butter (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the stem part of the tomato. Put the tomato on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove, let cool to the touch, peel off the skin and discard, tear apart and reserve the pulp and juice in a bowl. The tomato can be roasted ahead and frozen. That way it is ready and waiting whenever you need it to spice up a sauce or stew or, in this case, a risotto.

Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan. On a medium flame, saute the onions, garlic, and corn kernels until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Drizzle the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, season with sea salt and pepper, add the rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of stock. The stock will deglaze the pan, adding the caramelized flavors of the vegetables to the rice.

Continue stirring. Add another 1/2 cup of stock as the rice absorbs the stock. Continue adding a 1/2 cup of stock at a time, stirring, and adding more stock. Do this for 18-20 minutes until the rice is al dente.

When the rice is almost cooked, add back the sauteed vegetables and roasted tomato pulp. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Variations

To the saute add 4 mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, dried, thinly sliced

To the saute add 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Add 1 cup grilled chicken breast, cut into small pieces

Add 1 cup asparagus cut into 1/2" pieces to the saute

Add 1 cup grilled Italian sausage, cut into small pieces

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Very Versatile Roasted Tomato

Always on the hunt for an easy to make ingredient, I discovered roasted tomatoes a few years ago. With several left over after a dinner party, I decided a little experimentation was in order. I discovered that roasted tomatoes served up countless uses and, because they freeze well, they can be pulled out at the last minute and added to soups, stews, and sauces.

Incredibly versatile, roasted tomatoes work as a side dish as well as the basis for sauces. Cold, they can be tossed with cucumbers and onions for a salad. Peeled and chopped, they add body and flavor to stews, soups, and pastas.

Ripe and over ripe tomatoes work best. If you shop at farmers' markets, keep an eye out for discounted tomatoes. This week at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, tomatoes were selling for $2.50 - $3.50/pound, but the over ripe ones were priced at 60 cents/pound.

When they're roasting, tomatoes give off a clear liquid. The flavor is pure essence of tomato. The liquid can be used separately to flavor a simple pasta or as a final basting on a grilled meat. The wonderful chef, cookbook writer, and founder of Fra'Mani, Paul Bertolli was famous for hanging tomatoes in cheese cloth and capturing the clear tomato water that he called "the blood of the fruit."

Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

3 pounds ripe tomatoes (washed, stems removed)
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the whole tomatoes on a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 90 minutes. When the tomatoes are removed from the pan, be certain to spatula off all the seasoned olive oil and tomato water. That liquid is full of flavor. Spoon it over the tomatoes.

The tomatoes can be served as a side dish with other vegetables, pasta, and grilled meats.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Yield: 1 quart
Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

3 pounds roasted tomatoes

Method

Put the roasted tomatoes through a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds.

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

Yield: 2 cups sauce
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 quart roasted tomato sauce
1/4 pound brown mushrooms (washed, dried, sliced thin)
1 medium yellow onion (washed, peeled, finely chopped)
5 cloves garlic (peeled, finely chopped)
1 cup Italian parsley leaves (washed, finely chopped)
1 tablespoon oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon tamari (optional)
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Sauté the onions and garlic until lightly browned, add the parsley and mushrooms and continuing cooking until lightly browned. Add the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer until the volume is reduced by half. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt, pepper, oregano, or tamari.


The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week or frozen for a month or more.