San Marzano Marinara Sauce

can of San Marzano

An article from the New York Times convinced me to try San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes to make Marinara sauce. These tomatoes from Italy’s Sarnese Nocerino Area, close to the famous Mount Vesuvius volcano, are sweeter and more flavorful than American ones. I tried their recipe, but couldn’t resist tweaking it to make it my own improved version. I found the ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

garlicIngredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 crimini mushrooms, quartered and sliced
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced.

Pour the can of tomatoes into a blender and blend a few seconds.

fried garlic mushroomsHeat the oil in a skillet until it shimmers. Add garlic, onion, seasonings and mushrooms. Fry until onions are soft and garlic is yellow. Stir in the artichoke hearts.

Stir in the pureed tomatoes. Swish the can with 1/4 cup water and swish in the blender, then stir into the tomato sauce.

sauceCover skillet and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix it with pasta or make it a day ahead for the next day’s pasta.

For Linguine with Prawns, I grilled the prawns, then mixed with sauce and pasta and grated a bit of Parmesan on top. You could also fry the prawns with the garlic and onion, then remove them while cooking the rest of the sauce, and add them in later.

linguini with prawns

 

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Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

watermelon heirloom tomato wholeNothing says summer like watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, those oddly-shaped multicolored orbs, bursting with flavor. Cut them up and you have a veritable painting on your plate. Mix with sweet watermelon and sprinkle a little salt, maybe a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the tomatoes. Simple. That’s it!

watermelon heirloom tomato salad

Quinoa Tabouli

quinoa tabouliA dressed up tabouli made with protein rich quinoa instead of the traditional Bulgar wheat makes a delicious low-carb summer meal. I based my recipe on Mollie Katzen’s Bulgar wheat one in the classic moosewood cookbook  and added lots of extras like artichoke hearts, pine nuts and feta cheese.

Make the quinoa ahead of time and stir in the olive oil and lemon. Then refrigerate until cold. I used a food processor to mince the green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts.  I learned the hard way not to use it for the cucumbers or red peppers (it got mushy) Just take out the sharp knife and chop chop!

Makes 10 cups

Ingredients

Tabouli ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa. You can use white or red

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)

3 Tb high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb garlic infused olive oil

 

1 bunch parsley -approximately 4 cups leaves makes 1 cup minced leaves

4 scallions, both white and green parts

3 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 15 leaves)

3 medium tomatoes. I used dry-farmed tomatoes for outstanding flavor

1 red bell pepper

3 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeds removed

1 avocado

14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Rinse quinoa well under cold water, rubbing the seeds between your hands. Drain quinoa for a few minutes, then add water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. It will make 3 cups cooked quinoa. You can also make it in a rice cooker using the white rice setting.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, salt, and olive oils in a small bowl, then stir into the quinoa. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold.

Using the blade in the food processor, mince green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts until feathery. Stir into cooled quinoa.

Dice red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado and stir into quinoa along with garbanzo beans.

Serve cold, sprinkled with feta cheese and pine nuts.

tabouli with quinoa

 

 

 

 

 

Tortilla Soup, bién rica

On a long-ago vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, we fell in love with this soup: fragrant with lime, cilantro, comino and oregano, with just enough heat from chile powder and salsa de casera, and topped with crunchy tortillas or chips.

You could make a vegan version of this recipe by using vegetable broth and either omitting the chicken or substituting beans or some sort of fake chicken.

I buy preservative-free tortillas made in East Oakland: La Finca or La Mexicana,  in Mexican markets in the East Bay,  or at La Palma in San Francisco. Or make my own from fresh masa from La Finca.

I borrowed some of Jacqueline Higuera McMahan’s  method of adding roasted tomatoes from her recipe for tortilla soup:  http://www.sfgate.com/food/southtonorth/article/Soup-preserves-the-last-of-the-year-s-tomatoes-4888977.php Although it adds an extra step, the roasted tomatoes give the soup a rich and satisfying flavor and texture. You can roast them ahead of time. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup of canned tomato puree, although it won’t be quite the same.

tortilla soup ingredients

Serves 3 for dinner with warm tortillas on the side

1 ½ quarts (6 cups) homemade chicken broth.  See   (ok, buy it boxed or canned  it you don’t have homemade.)

5 Roma tomatoes

1/2 purple onion

3 cloves garlic

olive oil spray

1 tsp. cumin (comino in Spanish)

salt to taste

2-3 Tb. (to taste) salsa, such as Herdez salsa casera

1 – 2 tsp ancho chile powder (to taste)

½ chicken breast chopped. tinga de pollo is an excellent addition and will add extra flavor

Or use leftover roast chicken, or you can cook raw breast in the soup.

1 cup cooked rice

several sprigs of fresh cilantro for each bowl

3 sprigs fresh oregano, minced. (You can substitute 3 tsp dried oregano)

1-2 Tb queso cotija, queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese for each bowl

1 avocado sliced

1 lime

3 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 300′ Halve tomatoes and place cut side up on a foil-lined flat casserole dish, with the onion in the center and the garlic cloves placed between the tomatoes. Spray with olive oil spray and bake for 1 hour. Remove the stems and skins from tomatoes and onion, then pulse them in a food processor. You can do this step ahead of time.

Heat broth to boil, add tomatoes and cumin. Add chili powder,  salsa and salt to broth to taste. If using raw chicken breast add it at this point, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.

Heat tortillas on a comal or heavy frying pan until crispy, then break into pieces. You can use packaged tortilla chips instead.

tortilla on comal

Add cooked rice. If using cooked breast, put in the soup at the last minute so as not to lose the flavor.

Pour soup into bowls. Add oregano, cilantro and lime juice as desired, and stir. Crumble cheese on top and add avocado slices and tortilla pieces or chips. ¡Disfrùtela! Continue reading