Stuff and Nonsense: tomatoes

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


Easy Salmon & Summer Vegetable Bake

I love my farm share, but there comes a point every week where I become overwhelmed by the contents of my kitchen and feel ALL.THE.VEGETABLES.MUST.GO. This salmon dish is one of my favorite easy ways to use those vegetables up as it makes for both a filling and colorful supper. Prepping and assembling the dish only takes a few minutes and then I can just ignore it as it bakes.

I like to serve this over rice, drizzled with the delicious pan juices, but sometimes the tomatoes aren't so juicy and then I serve it with mashed potatoes. Basically, we like carbs.

Easy Salmon & Summer Vegetable Bake

Yield: 3


  • 1 lb boned salmon fillet
  • 8 oz small zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick coins
  • 2 oz coarsely chopped shallot
  • 6 oz small grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz red, yellow, and orange bell pepper strips
  • Olive oil
  • Penzeys "Florida" salt free seasoned pepper (or what have you)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Lightly oil a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  3. Place salmon in dish and surround with zucchini, shallots, tomatoes, and peppers.
  4. Drizzle salmon and vegetables with olive oil. Season as needed.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until salmon reaches 145°F and flakes easily with a fork.


Tomato, Basil, & Mozzarella Flatbread

Between the garden and our CSA share, we are inundated with tomatoes. The cucumber have mostly given up in this heat and the few that have ripened recently were incredibly bitter, so cucumber and tomato salad is no longer a regular at our table. Instead, I've been slicing the tomatoes, dressing them with a drizzle of white wine vinegar and garlic-infused olive oil, and finishing them with a little sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. My father occasionally chops up vine-warm tomatoes, sprinkles them with sugar, and pours a little cream over them. He says this is good both as breakfast and dessert, but I am not brave enough to try it.

Anyway, I've found sandwiches and flatbreads are a great way to use up our tomato excess. The sandwiches are simple -- take a slice of hearty bread (farmhouse white is most traditional), spread it with mayonnaise, add thick slices of tomato, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a few basil leaves, top with another slice of bread, smoosh the sandwich together a little bit to make sure everything is well glued together, and eat.

The flatbreads are slightly more complicated, if only because you need to use the oven. To save time, I use a prepared pizza crust, but you could make your own.
  • Slice 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella.
  • Slice a large tomato or tomatoes.
  • Chop a handful of fresh basil.
  • Chop four or five fat garlic cloves.
  • Brush pizza crust with a little garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkle with a salt-free Italian herb blend. Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 3 minutes or until it crisps and the edges have browned a little.
  • Top with sliced tomatoes, garlic, basil, and cheese. Sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little more oil and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes a beautiful, crunchy pizza bursting with summer flavors.


Baked Pesto Tilapia With Tomatoes

This is an fast and easy dish, perfect for when you've been too busy reading to think about supper, then lost track of time, and now its very late, and you are absolutely famished.

I used tilapia, because tilapia is what I had in the freezer, but any mild, white fish fillets will do. While I usually thaw frozen fish overnight in the refrigerator, I obviously needed thawed fish pretty immediately so I used the Food52 quick thaw method which worked very well.

Baked Pesto Tilapia With Tomatoes

Yield: 4


  • 5 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ tsp chopped parsley
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp garlic-infused white balsamic vinegar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, as desired
  • 4 tilapia fillets (6 oz each)
  • 2 oz prepared pesto


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with pepper to taste. Set aside until needed.
  3. Line a half sheet pan with baking parchment.
  4. Pat fillets dry with a paper towel. Place fillets on the parchment-lined sheet pan and brush with pesto.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until tilapia is 145°F and flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Serve tilapia topped with the tomato mixture.
I served the tilapia over rice -- prepared, as usual, with low-sodium chicken broth -- with steam-in-bag green beans I doctored with olive oil and lots of seasonings. The Husband


Lazy Roasted Chicken Thighs & Vegetables

This dish one-pan chicken and vegetable dish makes a comforting supper on a murky October Sunday. Not only will it fill your house with delicious odors, but it assembles in no time at all and can simply be forgotten in the oven until the timer goes ding -- leaving sufficient time for book-reading or cat-petting.

While I used fresh thyme when I made this, because that's what was still thriving in my garden, fresh oregano or marjoram would be tasty, too. You could probably use drumsticks instead of thighs, but I don't know how that would change the cooking time -- a meat thermometer would be a your friend, there. I wouldn't use boneless skinless thighs, because the bones lend flavor and the crackly roasted chicken skin is not to be missed.

Lazy Roasted Chicken Thighs & Vegetables

Yield: 2 servings


  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 small yellow potatoes, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • Salt and pepper, as desired


  1. Place the chicken thighs in a casserole dish.
  2. Arrange tomatoes, potatoes, and garlic cloves around the chicken.
  3. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season generously of with salt and pepper. Scatter with thyme sprigs.
  4. Roast, uncovered for 45 minutes or until chicken thighs reach 165°F.
  5. Set oven to broil and broil 5 min or until chicken skin is crisped and brown.

Serve the chicken and vegetables in shallow bowls with chunks of delicious crusty bread to sop up all the lovely pan juices.


Asparagus & Tomatoes; Or, What Needs Eating Up?

Had a package of campari tomatoes lurking in the vegetable drawer since before my surgery (I don't usually refrigerate tomatoes, but there wasn't time to use them up, so I stuffed them in the fridge to help them "last") and they've gone a bit wrinkly and soft.

My nurse friend Kelly, who stayed with me my first night home, had done a grocery run and, among other things, bought us a bunch of asparagus. Obviously, I wasn't up to cooking at the time and The Husband doesn't really care for asparagus enough to try cooking it ... so it's been hanging out with the tomatoes.

Usually, in a case like this where there are vegetables that need using up, I'd simply toss them with olive oil, garlic, and herbs and roast them until delicious. But. Hot oven + still not very bendy body + wound vac sounded like a risky combination and I decided to use the cooktop, instead.

Sautéed Asparagus & Tomatoes

Serves: 2, generously


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz coarsely chopped red onion
  • ½ lb fresh asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 campari tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper, as desired


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and very fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes or until the tomatoes have gone soft.
  4. Splash with balsamic vinegar and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Woke up this morning and thought "That's it! I'm cooking today!" Perhaps not the most well thought out decision I've made in my life, but I haven't cooked in three weeks and am at the point in healing where I feel antsy all the time. I want to be doing things, but my body is not quite up to snuff. It's very "Sure, you want to lean against the kitchen counter and chop things? Can do. You want to reach up into cupboards? Bend down into drawers? I will fucking cut you."

Happily, I've learned that if I grab everything I might possibly need in one bend or reach, it's not too uncomfortable. For example, bending down to the crisper drawer for a handful of asparagus and tomatoes, then slowly straightening up whilst snagging three eggs, the smallest carton of milk, and the goat cheese was pretty okay. (My lifting limit is 5 pounds and I don't think I violated that, but I certainly didn't weigh everything to find out!)

Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Serves: 1, generously


  • Splash of olive oil
  • 6 slender stalks asparagus, trimmed and chopped fine
  • ½ half small red onion, chopped fine
  • 3 large eggs
  • Splash of 2% milk
  • 3 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Palmful of crumbled fresh goat cheese
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste


  1. Pour a little olive oil into your skillet and heat over medium. Add asparagus and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  2. Whisk together eggs and milk. Pour over asparagus mixture and cook slowly, gently stirring, until eggs are almost set (still a little wet looking).
  3. Gently stir in diced tomatoes and goat cheese. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Plate.
Overall, I'm quite proud of this dish. The creamy scrambled eggs combine well with the tangy goat cheese, mellow onions, and spring-bright asparagus while the tomatoes add a touch of sweet (but gentle) acidity. For an "earthier" version, I might add sliced mushrooms or replace the fresh tomatoes with dried. Regardless, it's definitely something to make again.


Improv Challenge: Tomatoes & Herbs

Ahhh, tomatoes and herbs for August's Improv Challenge. What could be more fitting? My garden tomatoes are coming right along and my herbs are prolific, to say the least. In creating this month's recipe I tried to keep it as simple as possible to let the tomatoes and herbs really shine through. (Also, I had a lot of tomatoes ripen all at once and Something Had To Be Done).

You will note my "recipe" provides no specific amounts for any of the ingredients. This is because it is all simply a matter of preference and pan size. I used a broiler pan which fit about eight diced plum and globe tomatoes. Lots of garlic and thyme, because I love them. A bit less oregano, because I find a little goes a long way.

I used Wave Hill Bread's caramelized garlic bread to make my toast as it has whole roasted garlic cloves baked right in and is just DELICIOUS. If you can't find something similar at your bakery, any crusty loaf will do.

Creamy Tomato Toast

Yield: Many servings


  • Garden tomatoes
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh thyme
  • Garlic cloves, pressed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sliced crusty loaf
  • Soft, spreadable goat cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Gently toss together the chopped tomatoes, fresh oregano, thyme, and pressed garlic in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast until the tomatoes are soft and oozy, about 2 hours.
  4. Remove pan from the oven. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. (If using later, warm before spreading on toast).
  5. Switch oven to broil.
  6. Brush bread slices with olive oil.
  7. Broil bread for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove bread from oven, spread each slice with goat cheese, top with tomato goo, and garnish with additional herbs.

If you plan to serve these as an appetizer, just use slices from a thin, narrow loaf like a ficelle. The Wave Hill loaf I used is suitable for sandwiches and I find two creamy tomato toasts served like an open-face sandwich with a small salad or bowl of soup makes for a thoroughly satisfying lunch ... although, to be fair, I've also just ripped chunks of bread off the loaf and used them to scoop the tomatoes up straight from the pan into my mouth. It's best with the cheese, but sometimes I can't wait for the sweet, herby tomatoes to get in my belly.


Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

I made this simple corn salad for a coworker's picnic using leftover roasted corn and basil from my garden. Since there's nothing in this salad that requires refrigeration, I feel it's fine left out on the counter for a good while, but I understand food safety folks may not agree so ymmv.

My go-to roasted corn recipe is to place the ears, trimmed but still in their husks, straight onto the rack of a 400°F oven and cook them for about 20 minutes or until they look pretty brown and the kitchen smells like corn. (Time really depends on number and size of ears, so you do have to keep an eye on them).

As a time saver, you can find bags of frozen roasted corn at most grocery stores and thaw them for use in this salad. Also, I used garlic vinegar (because GARLIC), but you could probably use white wine vinegar with equally good results.

Basilicious Corn & Tomato Pasta Salad

Yield: 6


  • 3 cups roasted corn (about 4 ears)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 3 oz mini farfalle (tiny bow tie) noodles, cooked as directed for al dente
  • Generous palmful of basil, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp garlic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, gently tossing to coat well. Cover and let rest for about an hour or refrigerate until ready to serve.

While the little bit of leftovers was still pretty tasty the next day, I wouldn't recommend making this too far ahead because it simply tasted best the day of. If you are going to make this hours ahead, stir the basil in just before serving, because otherwise it wilt and lose its bright color.


Improv Challenge: Cilantro & Lime

May's Improv Challenge features the cool refreshing flavors of cilantro and lime. Unfortunately, cilantro can be very hit or miss for me -- while I usually find it delicious, sometimes it can be oddly soapy-tasting. Therefore, I did not use a lot of cilantro in this recipe!

I used barramundi in this dish, which the man at the seafood counter recommended as a sweet, mild fish similar to sea bass. I like bass and was happy to try something new as we've been eating a lot of tilapia and tuna lately. He said to cook the barramundi at 400°F for ten minutes or until it was white and flaked easily with a fork, so that's exactly what I did.

Cilantro & Lime Baked Barramundi

Yield: 2


  • 2 6 oz frozen barramundi fillets, thawed
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pat fish dry. Place in a baking dish. Rub with 1 tsp olive oil.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl, and pour the mixture over the fish.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired (I forgot), and serve.

Overall, I was very pleased with this dish and will definitely be making it again (with garden tomatoes, hopefully). The fish, while sweet and mild, was not overwhelmed by the sweetness of the tomatoes or the tartness of the lime. And, happily, the cilantro was not in the least bit soapy-tasting, but added a welcome grassy/summery note. I know "grassy" sounds a bit off-putting, but it was a bright green flavor that made me think of grass or chlorophyll.


Easy Italian Chicken, White Beans, & Tomatoes

I've been making this chicken and beans dish for a while now, but somehow I never managed to write it up. It's a rich, tomato-y dish that definitely warms up your insides. There's some sauce -- but not a lot as I cook everything without a lid so most of the juices render down -- and that's perfect for dunking crusty chunks of bread. I've been using cans of Cirio Cherry Tomatoes that I picked up at Big Lots on impulse, but I'm sure canned diced or crushed tomatoes will work fine when I run out.

Chicken Thighs With White Beans & Tomatoes

Yield: 4


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 14.5 oz can cherry tomatoes (pomodorini)
  • 2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmesan, as desired


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken thighs and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Remove thighs to a shallow bowl.
  2. Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent.
  3. Add chicken and any juices back to skillet along with the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken has reached 165°F. (Don't cover the chicken, because you want the liquid to cook down).
  4. Add beans to skillet and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.


Improv Challenge: Red & Green

I did think about making a red-and-green bundt cake for December's Improv Challenge but, aside from an egregious use of food coloring, I couldn't see what that could bring to the table. So I went savory and dye-free with this simple dish of chicken, tomatoes, and green olives! And capers! And fresh herbs! Which are also green!

Chicken Thighs In Tomato & Olive Sauce

Yield:4-8 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 06 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 06 hrs. 10 mins.


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • Additional fresh herbs for garnish


  1. Add the onions, tomatoes, olives, capers, and fresh herbs to the slow cooker insert.

  2. Nestle the chicken thighs into the tomato mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a few sprigs of thyme and oregano, if desired.

  3. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve garnished with additional herbs.

The tomatoes, onions, and chicken will make more than enough liquid so don't even think about adding broth to the pot! The chicken comes out very tender and the sauce is very flavorful, although it is a little runny so feel free to thicken it before serving.


Plated: Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

When I selected Plated's "Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes," I was pretty sure I was taking a big risk at it simply isn't the kind of thing The Husband would ever consider eating. Indeed, when it came down to it, I completely chickened out on serving it to him and kept all the tomatoes to myself. He was happy in his ignorance and I was in heaven. Who knew mixing quinoa with goat cheese could make it so darn delicious?!

Ingredients straight out of the box
Unwrapped ingredients
Obviously, this dish would be better in a few months when tomatoes are in season, but roasting makes most vegetables taste better and these pale, refrigerated tomatoes were no exception. They turned out juicy and flavorful and I was quite pleased to not have to share them.

I did not think the instructions for preparing the quinoa were very good -- not enough time or liquid -- so I chose to make them The Kitchn way and with low-sodium fat-free chicken broth instead of water. Other than that, the instructions were fine and I didn't have any trouble preparing this "plate."

The salad dressing was surprisingly tasty. Creamy balsamic is never something I'd ever considered and the color was a little off-putting, put the flavor was good and I'd definitely make it again. The recipe made a little more than I needed and I'll probably use the extra on that head of butter lettuce I forgot to serve with the seared salmon.

Every bite was delicious!
I had two tomatoes for lunch the day I made them and then took the others to work over the following days, packing the tomatoes separately from the (undressed) salad so they could be reheated in the toaster oven. They reheated well and made an elegant meal there in the staff room amongst the snack machines and work safety posters.

So that's my first Plated box done with and I can't wait for my next!


(Belated) Eating the Alphabet: G is for Green Beans & Garlic

I never posted during May's Eating the Alphabet Challenge as I never got around to photographing my dish of garlicky roasted green beans before we ate it and then there wasn't enough time to remake it and photograph the redo. Unfortunate, as it was pretty darn delicious. And it's not as if I haven't made it since ... just never get around to photographing it.

But I have now! Et voilà! The belated green beans:


Roasted Green Beans with Garlic & Thyme
Serves 4 as a side dish

12 oz green beans
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small sprigs thyme, chopped
8 garlic cloves, halved if large
salt and pepper, as desired
Additional fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cover a jelly roll pan with parchment or foil.

Lay green beans, garlic, thyme on the jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Spread them out on the span so that they lay flat. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes.

Roasting Green Beans

Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve garnished with additional thyme.
The garlic gets all nutty and, mmm, is just marvelous with the fresh thyme and tender-crisp beans.


Steak, Tomatoes, & Oven-Fried Potatoes

I was in the mood for steak and potatoes late last week and, happily, had a nice piece of organic grass fed steak in the freezer. I seared the steak in a very hot pan then popped it in a 400F° oven for 10 minutes. Came out perfect!

Steak, Tomatoes, & Potatoes

We ate the steak with sautéed cherry tomatoes and my mom's oven-fried potatoes. They're not really fried, but that's what she called them on the recipe card. They're really awesome potatoes and taste even better then next day with a runny egg.

Mom's Oven-Fried Potatoes

Yield: 4 generous servings


  • 6 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped into thumbnail-sized pieces
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Smoke paprika, as desired
  • Dried parsley, as desired


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush 13x9 baking dish with a little olive oil or spritz with baking spray.
  2. Put potatoes and onions in dish. Liberally season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Toss. Dot with butter. Cover and bake 50 minutes.
  3. Uncover and broil 10 minutes longer or until browned and a little crunchy on top.

If you want to use fewer potatoes, that's fine. Just remember the rule of thumb is one tablespoon butter per potato. Also, be very liberal with the seasonings. I'm fond of Bourbon Barrel Foods' Bourbon Smoked Paprika, but Penzeys Smoked Spanish Paprika is also pretty fine.

Mom's Oven Fries


Eating the Alphabet: C is for Chayote

March's Eating the Alphabet Challenge was to use C and/or D ingredients. Last year, I used chickpeas in "Pasta With Chickpeas, Spinach, and Golden Raisins" so I planned on sticking with a "D" ingredient this time 'round. Maybe daikon radishes or dates. But then I espied chayotes at Shoprite and knew I had to give them a try.

Chayotes (also called "mirliton," "cho-cho," and "christophine") are adorable pear-shaped gourd-like fruits. Besides being totes adorabs, chayotes are also a great source of folate, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Raw chayote has a very crisp, dry texture -- a bit like biting into a slice of underripe pear. Flavor-wise, it's very cool and refreshing with a decided cucumber note. And, although technically a winter fruit, thanks to global commerce chayotes are available year-round.

Chayote & Friends
It's making a prune face at me ;)
Chayote & Friends
Just like that!
If you can't find chayotes, most recipe sites I visited suggest zucchini or summer squash as a substitution in a cooked dish, but I think the flavor and texture would be wrong in the raw dish I've made. I would recommend jicima as a substitute or, if you're planning on serving the salad immediately, a well drained salted and seeded cucumber would probably work alright.

The recipe I made, "Ensalada de Chayote, Elote, y Tomates" (Chayote, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette), comes from Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky's Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2006) and is a compilation of recipes from Dona Tomas restaurant near Berkeley, California. I borrowed the cookbook from my library along with The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook (splendid recipe for "Pulled Buffalo Sandwiches with Chayote Slaw") and Down-Island Caribbean Cookery (many delicious cooked chayote recipes).

While the recipe does not say to peel or seed the chayote (every part of the chayote fruit is edible), I chose to peel mine and remove the large flat pit as my chayote skins were a bit blemished and unsightly. Peeled, there were some rusty brown spots such as you might see on a peeled apple, and I just cut them away.

Peeled Chayote

Halved Chayote

As I planned on taking this salad to work with me over a few days, I did not dress the salad until I was ready to eat it. I stored the vegetable mixture in a large covered bowl and it kept quite well. Like jicama and unlike apples, chayote does not discolor when exposed to air. I stored the vinaigrette in a repurposed mini milk bottle.

Chayote Salad

While I really loved this salad, I didn't think that much of the vinaigrette and stopped using it after the second serving. Instead, I switched over to Newman's Own Lite Honey Mustard Dressing and Lite Lime Vinaigrette. The Lite Lime Vinaigrette was fantastic and made me wish I'd not wasted time (and ingredients) on the recipe's vinaigrette. The last day, I didn't have much of the salad left, so tossed it with some salmon and served it on a bed of chopped romaine and that, too, was fabulous.

Chayote Salad w/ Salmon & Romaine

So glad I tried a new fruit! Looking forward to making many other chayote recipes!


Italian Homework: Pork Pizzaiola

I can't seem to close the book on my online cooking course. I've done everything I need to except submit the final assignment and, rather than do that, I keep going back and trying new recipes. Oh well, I have a year to complete the course ...

Anyway, the dilly-dallying has been worth it as I've made some really nice dishes, including this pork pizzaiola. I haven't cooked with pork very often, because I believed The Husband didn't eat the other white meat. Then, a few weeks ago, he mentioned it had been awhile since I cooked any meat that wasn't chicken or beef and the Truth of Pork was revealed. He doesn't eat ham or bacon, but everything else is (probably) fair game.

Pork Pizzaiola & Pasta

So I made this pork pizzaiola and, wow, it was good. The chops were tender and flavorful, the sauce rich and tomato-y. While it looks pretty fancy, it was super easy to make, didn't take a lot of prep, and cooked quickly. Indeed, it's actually something I could throw together on a weeknight!
Pork Pizzaiola
Serves 3

3 thick center cut boneless pork chops
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
6 large basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the chops from the refrigerator, unwrap, pat dry, and liberally season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes over medium; shaking the pan to keep the garlic moving. Add the chops to the pan and brown the chops on both sides. Lower heat to medium-low.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, parsley, and basil and continue to cook over medium-low heat until done (145 F° according to the USDA). Let rest for about five minutes. Serve with pasta.
So, yes, pork should definitely be on the menu more often. And lamb! And duck! And, wow, it's been a long time since we had a turkey ...


Pasta & Tomatoes Two Ways

Also known as how-fast-can-supper-get-in-my-tummy?!

Pasta & Tomatoes

Thaw two fully-cooked chicken sausage, slice into coins, and set aside. Toss four cups cherry tomatoes with olive oil, four crushed garlic cloves, and salt-free Italian seasoning blend. Roast @ 400°F for about 30 min.

Slice two fully-cooked chicken sausage into thick coins. Add sausage to tomatoes and roast 15 min more. Toss with cooked egg noodles. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and season with freshly ground black pepper, as desired.

Pasta & Tomatoes

Core, seed, and dice five large tomatoes. Heat a small splash of olive oil in a skillet until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, minced red onion, pressed garlic, and salt-free Italian seasoning blend. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down and onion is translucent. Add one cup cubed cooked chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken is heated through. Season with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with cooked pasta.


Presto! Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

When life gives you a bumper-crop tomatoes ... you darn well eat them, knowing you'll miss them dreadfully in January. This week, we've had tomato-bread salad, tomato soup, tomato pizza, tomatoes stuffed with eggs, and now tomatoes baked with salmon.

Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

All this lycopene better be doing brilliant things to my ramshackle body, I tell you what.

Anyway, this dish was dead easy to make and tasted really good -- the tomato juices and olive oil mingled with the herbs and salmon juices and it was just oh! a savory flavor explosion for the tastebuds.
Pesto-Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes, cored and diced
1 lb salmon fillet, boned and halved
2 Tbsp prepared pesto
freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme, minced
fresh oregano, minced

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Toss tomatoes with one tablespoon pesto, pepper, and herbs. Set aside.

Spread salmon with remaining tablespoon of pesto. Place, skin-side up in a baking dish. Surround with tomatoes.

Pesto Baked Salmon & Tomatoes

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel off salmon skin.

Serve with pesto rice (toss hot rice with pesto) and steamed spinach.


Too Many Tomatoes? Pizza!

I thought about making a tomato pie with garden herbs, corn, cheddar and pie crust, but then I realized I could just make pizza with the same ingredients for less time and effort.

Actually forgot to put corn on it!

I bought a ball of refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough at the grocery store, but all the other ingredients were on hand -- pesto, red onions, mozzarella, and cheddar were already in my fridge and tomatoes, thyme, and oregano came from my garden.

I preheated my oven, with the pizza stone in it, to 450°F. While the oven was doing its thing, I sliced the vegetables very thinly and chopped the herbs.

Feeling all smugly organized and shizzle, I set out to roll my dough ... not realizing I had no cornmeal and didn't know where my rolling pin was! Yes, I lost a rolling pin somewhere in my kitchen. I am truly blessed.

Happily, a water glass makes a handy rolling pin substitute and I rolled the dough out on a rectangular piece of parchment. This turned out to be The. Best. Idea. Ever. as I could just pick up the parchment, pizza and all, and slide it onto the hot stone. The paper browned while the pizza baked, but did not burn. Then I just slid the hot parchment paper/pizza off the stone onto a cutting board and let the pizza set for 5 minutes or so. Cut it into pieces and went omnomnom.

Pretty sure this pizza should have served four people with salad, but we skipped the salad and split it between the two of us and were happy. The Husband gave the pizza 10 ★s, but later downgraded it to 9½ ★s when I told him I'd used a whole wheat crust. Silly.


Tomatoes Stuffed With Eggs (Really)

I'd been mulling over the idea of baking eggs in hollowed out tomatoes for a while now, but either didn't have big enough tomatoes (wall to wall cherries, man) or had the right tomatoes but no courage. Seriously, I couldn't decided if baked egg-filled tomatoes would be The Best Idea Ever or just a bit weird. In the end, I just decided to go for it. If the dish failed, there was always the burger shack down the road!

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

For this dish, I merged two recipes -- Martha Stewart's "Baked Eggs in Tomatoes" and Whole Living's recipe for "Baked Eggs in Whole Roasted Tomatoes." I liked Whole Living's idea to roast the tomatoes before filling them with whole eggs, but I also liked Stewart's use of corn and chives. And then I just had a moment and stuff happened in the kitchen and the eggs didn't turn out quite as I'd planned, but were still pretty darn delicious.

Cheesy Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbsp shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar (or whatever you like best)
4 large eggs
Smoked paprika, as desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a little bit off the bottom each tomato so they stand firm and don't wobble. Slice the top off the tomatoes, core, and use teaspoon to gently remove the flesh and seeds. Turn upside down and drain on paper towels for about 15 minutes.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

Place tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle insides of each tomato with thyme and garlic. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

Add a tablespoon each of corn and cheese to the bottom of each tomato. Carefully crack an egg into each tomato. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Dust with paprika. Bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 9 minutes more. Eat.
I really wasn't sure what The Husband would think of this dish, but he really liked it and said he would be happy to eat it again. I served it with pesto rice and the egg yolks and tomato juices ran all over the rice, creating the most delicious mixture.

Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes