Tag Archives: tomato

Heart Healthy Salad for Dinner

See—Little Baker does healthy too 🙂

Fast and good for your heart.

Enjoy!

Two Heart Healthy Salads (recipe by me)

printable recipe

Serves 1.

Broccoli-Tuna Salad

2 tbsp dijon mustard

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1- 6 oz can tuna, drained

1/2 cup frozen broccoli florets, defrosted (or fresh)

small handful raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

1/2 medium tomato, sliced (4 slices)

4 small slices Jarlsberg cheese

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

For Broccoli-Tuna Salad

  1. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, onion, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  2. Stir in tuna, followed by broccoli and raisins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust flavor to taste by adding more mustard, vinegar, salt, etc. Serve along side tomato-cheese salad.

For Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

  1. Spiral out tomato and cheese in alternating layers on a plate. Splash balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Chicken Baked in Tomato-Spinach Sauce

For someone who loves food so much, it seems odd to eat as much yogurt and cereal as I do. The fact of the matter is that cooking for one is booooring. Of course this bothers me. For one, it’s not exactly healthy. In a recent discussion with my friend Natalie regarding my carb and sugar diet of late, she told me, “I’m surprised you don’t look more like Jabba the Hut”. Me too. Second, it’s lame; it’s not like I don’t have the time, money or skill. And third, and most obvious, I am the Little Baker SF! and have a responsibility to blah, leafy greens, blah, organic, blah…you know what I mean.

Chicken baked in a tomato-spinach sauce. There, my redemption dish. Easy, yummy and organic. It’s not so quick–1 hour cooking time–but breast takes a long time to soften up. Using thighs would probably speed up the process.

Enjoy!

Tomato-Spinach Baked Chicken (recipe by Theresa)

printable recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken breast (mine was with bone and skin—moister and more flavor this way)

1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, crushed

1 handful spinach leaves

1 clove garlic, bruised but still whole

1 tbsp onion, roughly chopped or thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil or oregano (or combination of both)

pinch of sugar

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Rinse and pat chicken dry. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together tomato, spices and onion. Then mix in the spinach.
  3. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish. (I used a glass pie plate.) Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken, making sure to coat completely. Drizzle olive oil over chicken. And season with a little more salt and pepper if you like.
  4. Cover dish with foil and bake for 50 minutes. At the midway point, remove foil and finish baking.
  5. Remove from oven, replace foil and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.

Tuna – Gigantes Bean SautĂ©

Mmmmm….beans. Beans are a good source of protein and fiber; beans are cheap—so cheap that I can even afford to buy organic.

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of bulk foods at Rainbow Grocery. Gigantes beans (aka giant lima beans), are just one of my latest discoveries from the bulk bin! Gigantes are meaty, creamy and buttery. And they’re HUGE: after soaking overnight and cooking, they grow to about the size of a thumb tip—what is that, like 2 inches? (P.S. Did you know that lima beans are actually named after Lima, Peru? I always wondered…you can read more here.)

When I bought my giant limas, I really wanted to make this, a dish I found on Closet Cooking…but I just didn’t have the time or the patience to boil, saute AND bake dinner just for me. No time for messing around when I’m hungry 🙂

I was inspired by the traditional Italian dish, Fagioli con Tonno (cannellini beans with tuna), when I was trying to figure out what to make.

Tuna and beans are such a clever combination. Hearty, interesting texture and go great with all kinds of herb combinations. I threw in some sad swiss chard left over from my CSA, a little garlic, onion and oregano—and that’s it. Dinner. To go with the main, I made a quick tomato-avocado salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Photo taken from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Enjoy!

Tuna – Gigantes Bean SautĂ©

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Sauté

1 can white, no salt added tuna

1/4 cup Gigantes beans, soaked overnight

2 large leaves swiss chard, roughly copped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 tsp dried oregano (I used Mexican; it has more flaaavor)

salt and pepper

olive oil

Tomato-Avocado Salad

1 small vine-ripened tomato, diced

1/4 small avocado, diced

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

a pinch of evaporated cane sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

a squeeze of fresh lemon

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. Boil the beans over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, but reserve about 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Set aside.
  2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the salad: in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced avocado and tomato. Set aside.
  3. Back to the beans: In a small pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion, garlic and swiss chard until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the tuna, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked beans and reserved liquid into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and stir to combine. Fry until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Plate the tuna and beans with your prepared salad, drizzle a little more fresh lemon over the top, and serve.


Ratatouille Stuffed Crepes Gratin

Some people are natural-born hosts. I am not one of these people. I stress about who to invite, whether they’re going have things to talk about or even LIKE each other, what to make, what drinks to serve, and, and and…

This Saturday’s potluck dinner was no different: I was late, people couldn’t find parking, my cheesecake didn’t gel properly. And, to make things worse: roommate drama. Major. (FYI: It has since been resolved. :D) Everything came together in the end, though. Awesome food and wine and scintillating conversation with my favoritest people in the city.

The baking and cooking part during the day was good too—actually, it was great. 3 straight hours of uninterrupted slicing, frying, stirring and baking. I finally got to use the frozen lucuma I brought back from Lima for a lucuma cheesecake (will post recipe soon). I also got to make this lovely vegetarian gratin (inspired by this recipe found on In Praise of Sardines)—I’ve been baking so much lately that I forgot how good it feels to be able to cook by feeling and not have to measure anything.

The original recipe is vegan, including the socca crepes which use chickpea flour instead of all purpose. My version isn’t vegan and is also a gratin. Visualize braised-all-day veggies wrapped in light-as-air crepes, smothered in creamy bechamel, and baked until golden on top and a melting pot of flavors in the middle. Love it.

Enjoy.

Ratatouille Stuffed Crepes Gratin (adapted from In Praise of Sardines and Epicurious.com)

Makes one 9×13 gratin dish, ca. 10 servings

INGREDIENTS

Ratatouille Filling:

1 lb any combination of red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers

1 lb zucchini

1 lb eggplant (I used the entire eggplant, ca. 1.2 lbs)

1/2 lb red onions

6 cloves garlic

4-6 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried basil (would have used herbes de provence if I had had it)

1 tsp dried rosemary

salt and pepper, to taste

Crepes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups milk (I used non-fat)

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

1 tsp olive oil

Bechamel:

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups milk (non-fat is fine)

salt and pepper, to taste

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Assembly:

handful grated parmesan

1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

METHOD

Ratatouille

  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil.
  2. Roast the peppers over a barbecue grill, the gas flame on your stove, or under your broiler until black and blistered all over. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow to continue cooking in their own steam. When cool, peel off skin (use a paper towel if needed). Seed and cut into one-inch pieces, preferably triangles.
  3. Cut the zucchini and eggplant into one-inch pieces. Place eggplant pieces in a colander over a sink or bowl and sprinkle lavishly with salt. Allow to sit for at least half an hour.
  4. Cut out a cone-shaped piece from the tops of the tomatoes and mark the bottoms with an X. In the boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 20-30 seconds. Allow to cool briefly, then peel off and discard the skin. Cut tomatoes into one-inch pieces.
  5. Dice the onions into 1/2-inch pieces and slice the garlic as thinly as possible. In a large, shallow pan over medium-low heat, sweat the onions in 2-3 tablespoons of the oil, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, season the onions with salt. If the onions start to color, reduce the heat to low. Add garlic, cover, and cook 15 more minutes until meltingly tender. Remove the lid and add the herbs, the tomatoes and the cut peppers. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in another pan (preferably non-stick) large enough to hold all the zucchini in one layer, sauté the zucchini in 1-2 tablespoon oil over high heat. Your goal is to caramelize the zucchini all over, without letting it burn or cook all the way through. It should take about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, season with salt, and set aside when done.
  7. When the tomatoes and peppers have cooked for about 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost tender then add the eggplant and cook 5 more minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Using several paper towels, gently squeeze the eggplant dry. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the eggplant as you did the zucchini, for about 5 minutes until caramelized.
  8. When the tomatoes and peppers have cooked for about 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost tender then add the eggplant and cook 5 more minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for a few hours, in order for the flavors to “marry”.

Crepes

  1. Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture.
  2. Heat a dry 7- to 8-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.) Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 to 10 seconds, then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip. Cook until just cooked through, about 20 seconds, and transfer to a plate. Make 10-12 more crepes in the same manner.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and let it melt. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Allow the mixture to cook for about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk, again stirring constantly to fully incorporate ingredients and also to avoid scalding.
  3. Once the mixture is smooth and already starting to thicken, add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk as well as the salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and whisk until thick. Remove from heat. (The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.)

Assembly

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F (oven rack in the center). In a 9×13-inch gratin dish, ladle in half of the bechamel sauce, making sure to coat the bottom completely.
  2. Spread 1/4 cup ratatouille filling across the center of 1 crepe and roll into a cylinder. Fold in the ends and transfer, seam side down, to the baking dish. Assemble the remaining crepes in the same manner, fitting them snugly. (You’ll probably have leftover crepes and filling.)
  3. Pour the remaining bechamel on top of the crepes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle grated parmesan over. Distribute the butter pieces evenly on top. Cover with a foil tent.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil. Broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or until golden on top.
  5. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Roasted Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Tart

Took this pic w/ my cell. I swear I have THE WORST camera karma. I forgot my camera charger--again! Will have it back this weekend, though (Thx, Guapo!)

I’m so excited to write today. It’s one of those dreamy Sunday afternoons here in the city. Sun, a cloudless sky and quiet on the street below. The cherry blossoms have also started budding and blooming right outside my apartment window. It is a day to be spent out of doors, which is exactly what I’ll be doing when I go on a walking tour of Victorian San Francisco.

But before I could do anything, I had to make this tart.

It is the kind of tart that comforts my little heart and puts all thoughts to rest. I simply read through the instructions and let my hands do the work. No over-thinking, no stressing. Just baking.

We had beautiful organic tomatoes and basil left over from Melita’s dinner party last week. It would have been a shame to let them just sit there. So I rescued them. I came across this Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart on Lisa is Cooking a few months ago, which in a google search led me to Nick Malgieri’s recipe. The dough is olive oil based, which intrigued me. And the ingredients list for the filling is short—and also very flexible—which is even more interesting. Each ingredient’s flavor will be distinct and intense in its own way. Also, you can completely change the character of the tart by using a different cheese and/or roasted veggies.

I hope you enjoy this tart as much as I did. Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart (adapted from Nick Malgierie’s The Modern Baker)

Makes one 10 to 11-inch tart

Olive Oil Dough

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2-3 tbsp water

Roasted Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes, cut into eighths

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

olive oil

salt and pepper

Tart Filling & Egg Mixture

10 oz mild goat cheese, crumbled

1 large handful basil, cut into thin strips

6 large eggs

salt and pepper

METHOD

Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Place the prepped tomatoes and garlic cloves onto a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil on top and then sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Bake for 50-60 minutes.
  2. Transfer the tomatoes to a small bowl and allow to cool completely. Discard the garlic (I suppose you could use it if you like).

Dough

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. (I did this sans food processor.)
  2. Add the oil, egg, egg yolk and water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a shaggy ball. Don’t over-mix or the oil might separate out of the dough and make it impossible to handle later on. If the dough seems dry and not about to form a ball, add water a 1/2 tsp at a time until it does. (I also did this all by hand. I made a well in the flour, whisked together the egg, egg yolk, oil and water in the well and then with a fork gradually mixed the liquids and flour mixture together.)
  3. Invert the dough onto a floured surface. Press the dough into a disk without folding it over on itself. Wrap and chill for up to 3 days.

For the Tart

  1. When you are ready to bake the tart, set a baking rack in the lowest level of the oven and pre-heat to 375 F.
  2. Roll the dough on a floured surface and then line your tart pan with it, trimming away the excess dough at the top rim. (I don’t like adding even more flour to the dough—it makes a mess and also changes the dough. Instead, I roll the dough out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. No mess, no sticking and an easy transfer from counter to tart pan.)
  3. Sprinkle the tart crust with the goat cheese. Cover the cheese with the roasted tomatoes, slightly overlapping, followed by the basil.
  4. Whisk the eggs with the salt (not too much; the cheese is salty enough) and pepper. Pour the mixture into the tart crust to uniformly cover the tomatoes.
  5. Bake the tart until the filling is set and well colored and the crust is baked through, ca. 30 minutes. (Mine needed 35 min.) Then cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.

Fish Baked in Foil-Purses and Topped with Homemade Spinach Pesto

Last night was Melita’s birthday. So we three girls decided to celebrate the occasion with a mini-celebration at home. We started with fondue, which we ate standing over the stove :P. For the main course, I made this amazingly easy and healthy baked fish topped with homemade spinach pesto. And for dessert, leftover tres leches cake from dinner the night before and a lemon tart (recipe to follow).

I’m tired and want to go to bed, so I’m not going to say much about this recipe, except that it’s dead easy to prepare and super healthy and oh so delicious—especially with the pesto and goat cheese.

Enjoy!

Tomato, Spinach and Fish Baked in Foil-Purses with Homemade Spinach Pesto (adapted from this recipe found on Apartment Therapy The Kitchn)

Serves 3 hungry girls ;P

INGREDIENTS

Fish

3 filets of white fish (not sure what kind I used—tilapia probably)

3 large handfuls baby spinach

2 roma tomatoes

1/2 purple onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

basil (I used dried.)

the juice of 1 lemon

olive oil

goat cheese, to top

Spinach Pesto

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 handful walnut halves

1/4 cup aged gouda, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic

juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the Fish: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Prepare 3 large pieces of aluminum foil.
  2. Divide the spinach leaves among the three sheets, laying them close together in the middle. Lay one piece of fish on each bed of spinach. Season generously with salt, pepper and basil.
  3. Divide the garlic and tomato and onion slices between the three pieces of fish, laying them on top. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each. Then sprinkle another pinch of salt and pepper over each. Then drizzle a little olive oil (ca. 1-2 tbsp) over each pile.
  4. Fold up the edges of the foil to create a closed foil-purse and bake, on a baking sheet, for about 20 minutes, just until the fish is opaque.
  5. Open the purses and put the oven on broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. While the fish is baking, prepare the pesto: Combine all ingredients except the olive oil and lemon in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Then, while the machine is still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until combine. Taste and season with a little more salt and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Once finished baking, plate the fish and veggies, spooning the juice over each pile. Then top with a generous spoonful of pesto and a dollop of goat cheese. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.

Tomato-Basil Focaccia for Fleet Week

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Admittedly, focaccia was perhaps a bit much for a rooftop Fleet Week party. Especially since it turned to be much more kegger than garden party. I don’t really care, though. If I’m honest, the majority of my baking and cooking endeavors stem not from an abundantly generous nature but rather from a secretly egotistical one.

It’s all for the pictures and for the blog!

Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy baking and cooking for others. Like for my mom, it’s a way for me to express my love, a not all-too-easy feat for someone as shy as me! (^_^) Also, if I weren’t actually a chubby girl trapped in this little body (I’m serious—she wants out), I’d probably be able to enjoy a lot more of what I make.

I think I may have attempted a simple rosemary focaccia in the past, but it totally paled in comparison to this version from Jamie Oliver (Oliver again?!?! Majorly crushing on the Naked Chef! <3)

Again, easy-to-follow instructions, short list of colorful, bright ingredients from Jamie. And as there was kneading and proving involved, I was a happy girl!

All you really need to concern yourself with is getting the dough right. Once you have that, you’re free to get as topping-happy as you like. For my first try, I added the red onions and Asiago for more color and flavor. Corn, maybe another cheese variety like Gorgonzola and arugula instead of basil would be pretty stellar too.

I heart Jamie.

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Tomato-Basil Focaccia (recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen. Original available here.)

Makes 1 large focaccia or 2 smaller loaves

INGREDIENTS

Basic Bread Recipe

3 x 7g sachets dried yeast

30 g / 1 oz honey or sugar

625 ml / just over 1 pint tepid water

1 kg strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting

30 g / 1 oz salt

Toppings

600 g cherry tomatoes (I bought the multi-colored ones from Trader Joes, which pretty sweet.)

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

10 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (guesstimated here)

flour for dusting

1 huge handful fresh basil, leaves picked

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

asiago cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the dough: Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.
  2. On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the center moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so don’t be afraid to adjust quantities.)
  3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes—this develops the gluten and the structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little flour.
  4. Flour both your hands well and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape and place it on a baking tray or in a large mixing bowl. Score it deeply with a knife, allowing it to relax and prove with ease until it’s doubled in size. Ideally, you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove, for example near a warm cooker or in the airing cupboard (I always put mine in the microwave), and you could cover it with clingfilm if you want to speed things up. (I always do.) This proving process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.
  5. While the dough is proving, prick your tomatoes with a knife and drop them into boiling water for around 30 seconds. Drain, cool them under cold water, and remove the skins, keeping them whole if possible—as they’re nice and small.
  6. Take your proved dough and bash the air out, then put it on a floured surface and roll it out about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured baking tray and push the dough to fill the tray completely. Distribute the tomatoes, basil leaves and sliced red onion evenly over the top. Pour the olive oil over everything.
  8. Push your fingers to the bottom of the tray across the whole dough, using them like a poker, pushing them through the dough and then flattening them out when you hit the tin. (Feels sooo good :P) This gives the bread its classic shape and makes indentations so you get little pools of oil when it’s cooking. Leave to prove until it has doubled in size again.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 425 deg. F (220 deg. C).
  10. Once doubled, sprinkle the salt, pepper and crumbled asiago over the top. Place the tray in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes (Mine needed ca. 25 min), until the bread is crisp and golden on top and soft in the middle.
  11. Remove bread from the oven. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil (I didn’t do this).

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An Italian Fish Stew for My Roommates

When I first moved in, I suppose I appreciated the simplicity of my living situation—we were roommates, not friends. At one point, however, it just felt weird to be sharing such an intimate space—home—with two people and not make an effort to know who they are.

I guess I wasn’t the only who felt this way.

Last Wednesday, my two roommates, Lauren and Melita, and I finally sat down together for a dinner at home. I’ve been living with these girls for 2 months and this is the first time we really had a chance to talk. Over wine, good cheese and a fish stew that I sort of just threw together (and inspired by this recipe from epicurious), we took turns talking about our work, families and relationships.

I’m glad we did it—L. and M. are amazing, independent, inspiring women. It may be more complex than before, but I think of that as a good thing.

So here’s the stew that brought us 3 girls together.

It’s loaded with vegetables, it’s healthy and it’s pescavegetarian (for the girls). Also, it’s completely flexible—as long as you make the basic tomato soup part, you can throw in whatever kind of veggies and seafood you want.

Blurry photo–I know. This is the only one I have…

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Italian Fish Stew (adapted from Epicurious)

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, finely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into bite-sized pieces

splash of white wine

1 large handful fresh basil, including stocks, sliced chiffonade-style

1x 28-oz can plain stewed tomatoes

1-1 1/2 lbs. fish or seafood (I used 3 large tilapia fillets)

2 cups vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used about 1/2 c. frozen corn and 1 1/2 c. broccoli florets)

salt and pepper, to taste

juice of 1 fresh lemon (could use the zest as well)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a pre-heated non-stick pot, saute the onion, garlic and carrots in a little olive oil until golden in color.
  2. Add in a splash of white wine and allow the liquid to reduce to about half.
  3. Mix in the stewed tomatoes, chopped basil stocks and salt and pepper. Allow the stew to come to a boil; then, reduce the heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes (until the carrots are tender and the liquids have reduced enough to form a thicker stew).
  4. Add the broccoli and allow to cook until al dente.
  5. Pour about 1/2 the soup mixture into a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Pour it back into the pot. (Cover the blender with a towel and not the top to avoid splattering.)
  6. Add in the remaining vegetables (in my case, frozen corn) and seafood, allowing the soup to cover and cook the fish. Do not stir; otherwise, the fish with break up. Allow to stew for about 3-4 minutes—not longer.
  7. Ladle the stew into the bowls. Then, top each bowl with a dollop of fresh, soft goat cheese, a squeeze of lemon and serve.

For dipping, we threw some fresh bread under the broiler, then coated the pieces with a drizzle of olive oil and a few strokes of fresh garlic.

Such an uncomplicated stew but absolutely delicious.

Oh, and of course, serve with lots of wine!

Ricotta Stuffed Baked Tomatoes Topped with Pan Gratata

I served this for dinner a while back and am only now getting to posting it :). The recipe was inspired by several recipes I browsed at online. All in all, it’s a pretty simple dish to put together. And though I’m not exactly a fan on baked tomatoes, I definitely don’t mind eating this–or anything with ricotta and pan-fried breadcrumbs!

Serves 4 as a starter/side or 2 as a main.

Ricotta Stuffed Baked Tomatoes Topped with Pan Gratata

INGREDIENTS

2 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded and flesh scraped (Reserve 1 tbsp for later.)

Pan Gratata

1 cup day-old bread, cubed

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 sprig fresh rosemary

salt and pepper

a generous glug of olive oil

1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Filling

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 tbsp parmesan, grated

a handful fresh basil, sliced thinly

salt and pepper, to taste

reserved 1 tbsp tomato flesh

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  2. For the pan gratata: Prepare the bread in the food processor until bread crumb-sized.
  3. In a heated pan, sauté the garlic and rosemary sprig in olive oil. When you can smell the garlic, add in the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sauté the bread crumbs until crisp and golden. Remove the rosemary and set aside. (If you dont like chunks of garlic, leave them whole and remove at the end.)
  5. For the filling: Combine all ingredients, stirring well.
  6. Assembly: Place the tomato halves into a baking dish. Spoon the ricotta mixture into each tomato half, pushing it in as firmly as you can. Top with the bread crumbs, pushing in with your fingers as well.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven until golden and the tomatoes are soft, but not collapsing (about 20 minutes). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.