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.
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.
Heat 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.
Cover 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 red 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.
Nothing 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!
A 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
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
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 salt 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 or container. Whisk together lemon juice 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.
This classic Mexican soup is fragrant with lime, comino and oregano, with just enough heat from chile powder. This is one of the first recipes that I posted on my blog. I’ve updated it to the way it has evolved in the last 10 years.
You could make a vegan version of this recipe by using vegetable broth.
I make my own Tortillas de maíz hechas a mano – Homemade corn tortillas from fresh masa from the local Mexican market or with dry masa. They will literally melt into the soup. When I’m not up to that I buy preservative-free tortillas made in East Oakland: (from La Finca or La Mexicana) in Mexican markets in the East Bay, or at La Palma in San Francisco.
You can roast the tomatoes ahead of time and make tinga de pollo or season the chicken ahead of time.
Serves 3 for dinner with a warm tortilla in the soup.
1 corn tortilla (homemade is best) for the soup, plus 3 tortillas to serve in the soup.
14 oz can roasted tomatoes or 5 fresh Roma tomatoes and olive oil spray
2 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 onion plus 2 Tb onion for chicken and 2 Tb for garnish
3 cloves garlic
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. cumin (comino in Spanish) divided between chicken and soup
2 tsp dried oregano, divided between chicken and soup
1/2 to 1 tsp ancho chile powder (to taste) Remember a little goes a long way!
1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
½ roasted chicken breast shredded (tinga de pollo is an excellent addition and will add extra flavor)
2-3 teaspoons salsa
1 lime, juiced
Garnish with any of the above:
Several sprigs of fresh cilantro for each bowl if desired
2 – 3 tsp dried oregano
A tablespoon of minced raw onion for each bowl
1-2 Tb Monterey Jack cheese for each bowl
1 small to medium avocado sliced
If roasting your own tomatoes: Preheat oven to 300′ Halve tomatoes and place cut side up on a foil-lined pan. 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 1 Tb olive oil in a large pot. add onions, celery and carrots and saute until onions soften. Add broth and bring to boil, then stir in tomatoes, cumin, chili powder and salt to taste.
Shred chicken breast. If not using tinga de pollo, prepare the chicken as follows: In a separate pan, heat 1 Tb olive oil and add onions and saute until soft. Add chicken and mix in 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon comino and 2 Tb salsa. (You can do this part ahead of time.)
Heat tortilla on a comal or heavy frying pan until soft. You can alternatively microwave it for 30 seconds.
Ladle 2 cups of broth into a blender (try not to include the vegetables). Tear up the tortilla and add it to the blender. Blend on high until tortilla has crumbled into the broth. Pour back into the soup pot and mix thoroughly.
Stir in the cooked breast. Heat soup to hot. Juice the lime into the soup.
Pour soup into bowls. Roll a freshly warmed tortilla and put it in the bowl. Add avocado slices, sprinkle dried oregano, raw chopped onions, and cilantro as desired. Crumble cheese on top. ¡Disfrùtela!