On this the (un)official kick-off of summer, many people officially move their kitchen outdoors for a summer of grilling. Under that scenario, here are two ways to serve the fleshy fish of your choice (i.e. tuna, swordfish, salmon, etc). They’re both fab and super easy…which is the way summer is supposed to go, right? Right.
First an ode to my mother-in-law, aka Rachel’s grandmother. She served this regularly with swordfish and it was/is mighty tasty. I served it with tuna and it worked just fine. Also it works best when tomatoes are fresh off the vine rather than those faux red things that we live with in the Northeast for most of the year.
Jan’s Tomato Salsa
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup green olives, diced
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 tablespoons lime juice, olive oil, scallions
If you’d prefer something a little moister, try this mayo based “sauce” that you smother on the fish before you cook and it adds a lovely piquant flavoring and helps keep the fish moist.
Mayo Mustard Sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon capers, drained
Mix it all together and then slather it over the fish and cook. Yup, again it’s that simple because, after all, isn’t grilling in the summer about the gin and tonics more than the cooking? That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.
With all this holiday baking — oh and just a little holiday eating — I’m beginning to feel just a tad blimp-like. So with that in mind, I thought it was time, Rachel, for me to feature something that didn’t include sugar.
I am a huge tomato fan and it is one of life’s inadequacies that I live in a place where fresh, lusciously ripe tomatoes are only available two months out of 12. I long for them the rest of the year, but there is no point of even pretending that the stuff in the produce section that’s red and roundish is even vaguely related to a real tomato.
That said, this terrific recipe from the Barefoot Contessa’s new cookbook, How Easy is That?, is a wonderful way to serve tomatoes as a side dish in those off months. Plus, you can make it ahead and serve it for a crowd, which is what I did when we had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. Hope you all like it!
serves a crowd
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced bread (1/2 inch pieces) from a round rustic bread
3 pounds plum tomatoes, diced (about 14-16 tomatoes)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basicl leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stire to coat with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring ovten, until the cubes are evenly browned.
Combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread cubes and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6-8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.
Congrats to Audrey, the winner of our Barefood Contessa cookbook, How Easy is That? Thanks to all who joined in. We’re working on some other giveaways, so hopefully we’ll be able to announce those soon.
In the meantime, on Meatless Monday, we’ll leave you with this recipe from Ina Garten’s book. I have made five of her recipes this point and every single one was a winner so you might want to pick the book up on your own or maybe put it on your holiday wish list. This recipe even works well with tomatoes that are off season for those of you who live outside California and basically avoid tomatoes except for about two months at the end of the summer.
serves 6 or 8
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced bread from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
3 pounds plum tomatoes 1/2-inch diced, about 14-16 tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup grated Parmesan
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are even browned.
Meanwhile combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread cubes and continue to cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6-8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.
Janet here: Every family has its own language, expressions that we create for events or moments that we forget are unique to us until we utter them out in the world and receive completely blank, if not shocked, stares. (Certain bodily functions immediately come to mind, for instance.) So, too, do families have prized personal recipes and food moments. And in the Reynolds clan, tomato mush is high up on the list.
Tomato mush is basically tomatoes with mayo, salt and pepper. You just cut up the tomato and then add the rest. Chill it before serving and you’re good to go.
I was first served tomato mush at my in-law’s home one summer early in my relationship with Peter. If I hadn’t already been completely smitten by Peter, this concoction might have sealed the deal.
Rachel here: As we mentioned this past Thursday, Mondays are now going to feature a vegetarian and/or vegan recipe in an effort to do our small part to enact and encourage environmentally-responsible eating. I am delighted to kick this posting trend off today with a delicious, hearty and summery recipe. Since it first crossed my mind to make gazpacho a few summers ago, it has been a staple in our house in the hotter months. I think my favorite part about it is that I’m never quite sure what all will end up in the bowl, making my ingredient decisions instead at the grocery store or farmers’ market as I encounter the produce. I accompanied the meal this time with garlic bread, although I’ve been known to forgo the oven completely (even greener!) and just put out some cheese and crackers. Either way, every time I serve it there are happy faces and full bellies around the table come dinner’s end.
1 large lemon
1 1/2 c. cannelini beans
5 small tomatoes (or equivalent)
1 medium cucumber
1 medium white onion
1 medium green bell pepper
1 ear fresh corn
salt and pepper
fresh mint leaves
Dice your tomatoes, cucumber, onion, bell pepper and corn. Put in a large bowl, reserving 1 1/2 cups. Puree the reserved vegetables and add to bowl. Add the beans and juice from the lemon. Season with salt and pepper and tear up just a few mint leaves. The idea with the mint at this point is to just add the subtlest hint of mint. The leaves don’t hold up so well, though, so I get the bulk of my minty flavor when I garnish the soup right before serving it. Add tomato juice as needed to get a good amount of liquid. Make sure the soup is well mixed before placing in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. During this time, the flavors will come out a bit more. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning if needed. Garnish with a few mint leaves in each bowl and enjoy.
Janet here: The best gazpacho, to my mind, has a bit of zing to it so when I make it, I add things like Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. (This would not go with mint FYI so I would leave that out of Rachel’s recipe.) I also like to leave mine a little crunchy so I don’t puree it all the way. Just some other thoughts to consider as you’re experimenting with this wonderful summer day staple. Enjoy!
Janet still flying solo: I haven’t cooked or eaten red meat in 30 years. (Okay okay so the occasional piece of bacon has crossed my lips, but we’re all weak sometimes aren’t we?) Anyway, BK (Before Kids) I only really ate fish and veggies. PK (Post Kids) I was blessed with one child who was seriously culinarily challenged — he was five before he would even allow a piece of watermelon to cross his lips; ALL food decisions were visual rather than by tasting — so I relied on chicken way more than I do when just cooking for my husband and the one child still left at home, who is a fairly adventurous eater.
We were having Peter’s sister for dinner the other night and I needed something fast and tasty to whip up. This chicken paella did the trick. I revised it from Ellie Krieger’s So Easy (which really should be called So Tasty because everything I have made from this book has been delicious). I put my amendments in parentheses so carnivores and white-meat-only eaters alike can enjoy this tasty dinner. Hope you like it!
Chicken Paella with Sausage and Onions
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
3 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (I used jalopeno-spiaced chicken sausage and that was just fine)
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces (I used chicken breasts and it was fine)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green Spanish pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
small pinch of saffron threads
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. (Use a skillet with a cover and one that can go into the oven.) Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes. (I did them both together.) Transfer both to a plate.
Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in the skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring until softened and translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 additional minute. Return the chicken and sausage to the skillet and add the chicken broth, peas, rice, tomato, olives, salt, pepper, tumeric ans saffron. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven.
Cook until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed, 25-20 minutes.
Rachel here: Seriously? I have an awesome husband. Not to gloat, but I really do, and only one of the reasons is that he is a great cook. Throughout our relationship he has been making me linguini (almost always freshly made with his own two hands) with clams and other various undersea creatures, and every time he does, it feels wonderfully decadent, partly because I have never made clams in my life and so it’s a food I feel like I access through his culinary prowess. The other night, though, I asked him to teach me how one deals with these little shelled critters, and he did. John doesn’t use recipes; he just thinks about food and then makes it and so, what you’ll find below are loose guidelines for approaching a seriously delicious (and, to my surprise, rather easy if you don’t make the pasta) and hearty dinner.
linguini (As I mentioned above, John usually makes it fresh; this time we bought it freshly made at the grocery store)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how garlicky you like your food)
1 small shallot, diced
chicken stock (see recipe)
white wine (see recipe)
2 T. butter
clams (we used 8 small ones per person, although John prefers using the large ones–and thus fewer per person–for better flavor)
2+ T. parsley, chopped
grape tomatoes, large handful, cut in half
Make your linguini, cooking it until it is nearly done. Remove from heat and douse in cold water to stop the cooking. If you are using fresh pasta, toss with olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself. Wash your clams. In a large pan, saute the shallot and then the garlic. Add 1/2 c. to 1 c. white wine and 1/2 c. to 1 c. chicken stock (using less will make a less brothy meal, more will make it brothier…this second way is how we prefer it) plus the 2 T. butter to pan. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon in and add the clams. Cover the pan and simmer until the clams are cooked. Once the clams are cooked (they’ll all be open now), add the pasta, parsley and a large handful of grape tomatoes. Other additions that are yummy include capers, chili flakes, or a little cayenne. Serve with crusty bread and a wedge of lemon and enjoy!
Janet here: I am a huge shrimp fan and was very excited to discover this recipe in Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave. My parents loved to eat out and on Saturday nights, we often traveled an hour away to a restaurant my dad had somehow discovered in the pre-internet era in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. Cows munched contentedly in a field across from the farmhouse restaurant. Inside, my sister and I had run of the place while my parents enjoyed a cocktail with the innkeeper before we ordered dinner in front of a roaring fire.
Shrimp cocktail was one of my favorite hors d’oeuvres. I felt so grown up munching on jumbo shrimp and sipping my Shirley Temple (later named a Barbra Streisand by my father when I was older). This baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta isn’t the same obviously, but if you love shrimp, you’ll love this. I served it over orzo, which worked quite well.
Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
serves 4 (with plenty for leftovers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 ounc cans diced tomatoes with their juices
1/4 finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill (I used dried because I didn’t have fresh and it was fine)
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste
2/3 cup crumbled feta
Heat oven to 425 degrees
In an ovenproof skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook one minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the tomatoe juices thicken.
Remove from heat. Stir in the parsley, dill, shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Springl the feta over the top. Back until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese melts, about 12 minutes. Enjoy.
Janet here: Rachel and I decided to go our own ways on this week’s entree entry and you’ll be able to see in a heartbeat the basic difference between our cooking: mine is vegetarian and hers involves eating a once-cute little baby sheep. Now I never liked lamb even before I pictured it in my head, but the cute fuzzy lamb part made it an easy red meat to give up 30 years ago. (Now the smell of a burger on the grill or bacon cooking, that’s a different story! I’ve been known to pop a piece of bacon in my mouth from time to time. Heaven!)
Anyway, enough of the whole vegetarian vs. carnivore thing. You’re going to love this Greek pizza from Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook because it’s just good. I first heard about the Moosewood phenomenon when I became a vegetarian and was searching for a good vegetarian cookbook that wasn’t too hippie-dippie. I mean, I was giving up red meat, not good food. Moosewood did the trick; my copies of the Moosewood Cookbook and the Enchanted Broccoli follow-up are ripped, dog-eared, stained and just generally reflective of the use and loving they’ve received. I’ve made one flop from these cookbooks in 30 years — zucchini pancakes, but that’s another story.
If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough, Katzen eases you into it with detailed instructions. While a little time consuming, it’s not hard, and the buttery, flaky goodness that is the end result is totally worth it. Enjoy!
1/2 pound phyllo pastry leaves (defrosted, all day ideally)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
juice from 1/2 large lemon
1 pound fresh spinach–cleaned, stemmed and chopped (or, if you hate dealing with spinach like I do, one frozen 10-ounce package chopped spinach, defrosted)
black pepper to taste
1 pound grated mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
For the phyllo: defrost the package, still wrapped, all day. Unwrap just before using, unroll and what you need if your package is not wrapped in 1/2 pound increments. Then rewrap the part you’re not using in wax paper and seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate or refreeze until you need it next.
Melt the butter and 1/4 cup oil.
In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic with salt in 2 tablespoons oil until the onions are clear and soft. Add the herbs, lemon juice and spinach. Cook over high heat until the spinach is cooked and the liquid is evaporated.
In a 13X9 inch backing pan, begin layering the phyllo dough, brush each surface with a generous amount of the melted butter and oil combination. Do this until you’ve used up all the phyllo layers. Brush the top surface with the remaining butter/oil. It will look like it’s too much butter but it’s not!
Place the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo dough evenly. Sprinkle on feta and half the mozzarella.
Dredge the tomato slices in the bread crumbs and then arrange them on top of the pizza. Add remaining mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.
Rachel here: The photo for this meal was taken with haste, as neither John nor I were able to muster the patience to take several pictures due to the unbelievably good smells emanating from our plates. Seriously? This recipe is delicious. While meat loaf has always seemed sort of boring to me, this recipe has changed this association forever. I would eat this regularly. Scratch that–I will eat this dish regularly. This stuff is so simple and so satisfying, I’d be a fool not to. Anyway, give it a try and let us know what you do with your meatloaf. This recipe has gotten me thinking that the possibilities just might be endless.
Balsamic-glazed Lamb Meat Loaf
from the February 2010 “Real Simple”
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces (I used part of a fresh loaf of rustic country bread instead)
1 lb. ground lamb
1 large egg
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. fresh thyme leaves (I used lemon thyme)
2 T. balsamic vinegar (I used closer to 3 T.)
2 T. olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
30 oz. canned cannellini beans, rinsed
1 T. fresh lemon juice (I just squeezed half a small lemon)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the bread and 3 T. of water. Add the egg, 2 cloves of the garlic (chopped), half the thyme, 3/4 tspn. salt, 1/2 tspn. fresh cracked pepper. Mash these ingredients and then add the lamb, mixing everything together.
On a foil-lined baking sheet (which I would recommend spraying with cooking oil, though I didn’t, because my loaf got a little stuck during cooking), shape the meat mixture into a 6-inch loaf that is about 3 inches thick. Bake, brushing with balsamic vinegar several times during cooking, for 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer registers the center at 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.
While the meat is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, and remaining garlic and thyme, tossing periodically and cooking until vegetables begin to soften. Add the beans, 1/2 tspn. of salt and 1/4 tspn. of fresh cracked pepper and cook until the beans are heated through. Stir in the lemon juice. Serve with the meatloaf.
Janet here: In the winter in the Northeast, I turn to chili when I want an easy dinner that will satisfy. First, I can make it ahead. Second it’s easy. Oh and then there’s the nutrition factor. It’s made of all kinds of stuff that are good for you (which also meant that it was a dish that I used to sneak good food into my kids when they were younger without them realizing it. I have one son, for instance, who will not eat beans or onions in pieces … except he does in chili so haha.)
But I digress.
Anyway, I make a lot of different kinds of chili, including a very tasty white one that I just discovered this past year. I decided for this post, however, to do the vegetarian one since my carniverous daughter was going to be including some kind of meat. So on to the dish, which of course is also just a great way to have a lot of melted cheese too. This batch will serve 6-8.
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 19 ounce can red kidney beans
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with jalapeno
about 1/2 cup rice
chili powder, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
In a large cooking pot, put in the oil and saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Then add the beans, tomatoes, rice and seasonings. Cook, covered, on low heat until the rice is done. Serve with grated cheese and sour cream.
Rachel here: Chili is awesome. I really think this. First, it’s a vehicle for cheese and sour cream. Second, it’s warm. Third, it’s hearty. Fourth, it’s easy. Really, it’s like a wonder-food. For this batch I used a combination of leftover items in my fridge along with umm…non-leftover items (there must be a better way to say that). And, in the end, I now have new leftovers, but now they are of the chili variety (yeah!) and some will be frozen in portions for a future evening and the rest will be eaten for lunches and whatnot this week. It’s a happy day here in Oakland (oh, and it’s a bit chilly, too…ha ha ha).
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
28 oz. whole peeled tomatoes (I use the organic variety and, I dare say, you should, too)
28 oz. ground peeled tomatoes
2/3 lb. flank steak, cubed
1 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
1 c. chicken stock (or more if you have it…just use that instead of the water)
2 c. water
4 c. beans (NOT dried…I used the leftover black beans I posted about last week)
6 large fresh basil leaves
2-3 T. fresh lemon thyme
2 c. couscous (already cooked)
2 c. fresh chopped spinach
salt and pepper
In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic and sweet potato in butter. Add tomatoes, steak, chicken stock, water, beans, chicken breast (I like to put it in whole and then pull it out after it’s cooked, chop it up and throw it back in), couscous, spinach, basil (I just tear these up as I throw them in) and thyme. Let simmer until starts to cook down and chicken is cooked. Add spices listed above to taste. This recipe makes a big old pot of chili so I don’t cook it down quite as far as I would if I were serving it all at once so that in future re-heatings I won’t have to water it down. Sprinkle cheese on top and add a dollop of sour cream and go get cozy.