Source: On the stems of the Calaveras tomato and the importance of observation
Rustic Eggplant Moussaka
While searching through Pinterest for some inspiration with all of our delicious eggplant coming from the garden, I came upon this great recipe and it’s associated blog (www.feastingathome.com).
I love the combination of eggplant and lamb, although one could easily eliminate the lamb and use another vegetable for it’s filling. Personally, my choice would be winter squash cut into cubes and steamed, then combined with the other ingredients in the recipe.
3 lbs Eggplant ( 2 extra large or 3 eggplants)
3 T olive oil or cooking spray
2 T olive oil
1 large onion diced
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 lbs ground lamb, (or use vegetarian ground meat substitute Gimme Lean or St Ives Meatless Ground.)
1 1/2 C diced tomatoes ( canned is OK)
2 T tomato paste
1/2 white wine
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 T butter
4 T flour ( or rice flour)
2 C whole milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg ( use fresh grated if possible)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Kefalotiri Cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds( no thinner). Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and let sit in a colander or bowl for 1 hour. Eggplant will start to release liquid. Rinse well, pat dry and brush each side with olive oil ( or use spray oil). Place on a greased sheet pan and roast in a 400 F oven until golden, about 20-30 minutes.
Make Meat sauce:
Saute diced onion in oil on med high heat for 3-4 minutes, add garlic, turn heat down to med low and saute for 8-10 minutes until onions are tender. Add ground lamb, turn heat up to high and brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Drain fat if any. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and cover and let simmer on med low heat for 20 minutes.
Melt 3 T butter. Whisk in 4 T flour ( or rice flour) and let cook for 2-3 on med heat, stirring often. Whisk in 1 C milk. Whisk well, and add 2nd cup. Stirring constantly bring to a boil, and let simmer on low for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, 2 T Cheese, salt, pepper. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, lightly beat an egg, but do not add it just yet.
Divide eggplant slices into three stacks, reserving the best looking largest pieces for the top an bottom layers. The others can be placed in the middle layer which will be concealed. In a greased 8x 13 in pan, place one layer of eggplant. Add half the meat sauce. Add another layer of eggplant, and the remaining meat sauce. Add the third and final layer of eggplant. Whisk in the beaten egg into the bechamel sauce until nice and smooth. Spread the bechamel over the final eggplant layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and place in a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes, until beautiful and gold. let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Prep time: 2 hours Cook time: 1 hour Total time: 3 hours Yield: 6-8 servings
Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto
Here’s a great recipe for the changing of seasons, borrowed from Iowa Girl Eats.
- 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt & pepper
- 3/4 cup arborio rice
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded & chopped (or equivalent amount of Roma or Compari tomatoes)
- 2 cups baby spinach
- handful torn basil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep hot.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat then add shallot, season with salt & pepper, and then saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 30 more seconds.
- Add rice then stir to coat in butter. Add wine then stir until nearly absorbed by rice. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth then stir continuously until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until nearly absorbed before adding more.
- When there’s 1/4 of the broth remaining, add tomatoes then continue stirring. Add baby spinach and basil with the last broth addition then continue stirring. Stir in parmesan cheese then add more salt & pepper to taste.
Tomato Cream and Bacon Pie
This recipe is inspired by a Better Home and Garden recipe, with extra extra flaky crust(s) and we think it works with heirloom toms or cherry toms! Try it and tell us what you think!
What you will need:
- 6 strips bacon
- 1 15 ounce package rolled refrigerated unbaked piecrust (2 crust) (or see recipe below for making your own crust)
- 2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes or roasted heirloom tomatos
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced leaf lettuce
- Lemon wedges (optional)
Directions for making the crust (if not buying it right out)
Directions for making the crust:
1. Cut the butter into 1/2-in/12-mm cubes, and freeze them while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.
2. To make the dough in a food processor: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse three or four times to mix. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer, scatter them over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add the ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse to mix, adding just enough water for the dough to come together.
To make the dough by hand: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer and distribute them evenly in the flour mixture, coating them with the flour mixture. Sink your fingers into the mixture and begin pinching the butter and flour together, making thin, floury disks of the butter. Continue working the mixture until the butter is broken down first into floury pea-sized beads and then into a loose mixture that resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tbsp of the ice water and use your hand like a comb to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface or sheet of parchment paper. Gather the dough together in a mound, then knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide it in half, and gently pat and press each half into a rough circle, about 1 in/2.5 cm thick. Lay wax or parchment paper in two pie pans and lay the dough in each. Wrap in plastic wrap or in the wax/parchment paper and put in freezer for 30 minutes.
Directions for making the Pie
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the pie crusts from the freezer, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. In a large skillet cook bacon until just done but not crisp. Transfer to paper towel. Reserve 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings in skillet; set aside. Make sure to save that leftover (if any) intoxicating fat for another time!
On a lightly floured surface, stack the two piecrusts. Roll from center to edges to form a 12-inch circle. Wrap pastry around a rolling pin; unroll pastry into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (Sides should be 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep). Ease pastry into pie plate, allowing edges to form a loose ruffled or scalloped effect. Gently press pastry into the bottom of pie plate. Sides will not lay flat against pie plate.
Prick bottom of pastry. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil; bake 10 minutes.
Remove foil; bake 5 minutes more. Remove, and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over the piecrust.
Place half the bacon slices around the edge of the crust. Set aside.
Cook onion in reserved bacon dripping over medium heat until tender. Drain drippings. Set aside.
Halve 2 cups of the cherry tomatoes, leaving the remaining 2 cups whole. Place the halved and whole tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Alternatively roast heirloom tomatoes (see directions in step 2 of this recipe) and slice to 1/2 inch segments and put in a large mixing bowl.
Add olive oil, 2 Tbsp. of the basil, salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl beat together cream cheese, mayonnaise, egg yolk, cooked onion, lemon peel, and remaining Parmesan, basil, and pepper. Spoon cream cheese mixture into piecrust.
Top with tomato mixture.
Nestle the remaining bacon slices among the tomatoes, weaving bacon between tomatoes. Gently press tomatoes and bacon into the cream cheese mixture. Bake pie until cherry tomatoes just begin to brown or the crust browns and becomes flakey when you touch it, about 35 minutes. (Loosely cover pie with foil if edges brown too quickly, say 15 minutes.) Let stand 60 minutes. Top with leaf lettuce and serve with lemon wedges for a little bit of zest.
Simple Tomato Sauce
This week and next at the farmers’ & artisans’ market we’re offering samples of the many different varieties of tomatoes! Pick your favorites, grab a box full, and try this mouth watering recipe that brings out their unique flavors! The two key steps in this recipe are to remove the water-filled seed pockets (which helps to deepen the flavor by removing water weight), and roasting (which further removes moisture). This recipe comes (slightly altered) from Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 medium leek
- 1 small carrot
- 1 head garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 small bunch basil (about 1/4 pound)
- Salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Cut out a cone at the stem end of the tomatoes to remove the core, and cut the tomatoes into quarters. If you have a grapefruit spoon or a strawberry topper, use it to remove about 50% of the water seed pockets. Toss with half the olive oil. Put the tomatoes in a baking dish and roast them, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to encourage even cooking. The tomatoes are cooked when the flesh is very soft and the skin separates easily from the flesh.
- Peel and slice the onion. Trim, wash, and dice the leek. Peel and dice the carrot. Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a stainless steel or other nonreactive pot (aluminum reacts with the acid in tomatoes and spoils the flavor). Add the vegetables and the garlic and cook the vegetables over medium heat until completely soft, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and the herbs. Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the flavors come together, for 30 to 45 minutes. Pass the sauce through a food mill and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 quart.
Armenian cucumber & tomato salad
This recipe features our armenian cucumbers. These jewels are more closely related to melons. Their flesh is super crispy and the seed cavity is almost non existent. A great find from Noshtopia.
- 1 cup peeled and sliced armenian cucumber
- 1 cup cut heirloom tomatoes
- 2 chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- Fresh dill to taste
- 1/2 cup of your favorite vinaigrette
- A sprinkle of hemp seeds for topping (optional)
Put all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss the dressing into the vegetables with your hands until all is covered with dressing.
Summer Green Bean Salad
This is a great meal to prepare ahead of time and just have waiting for you on a hot day in the fridge. Martha Stewart has actually got a pretty cool selection of recipes, which is where I found the base for what I’m sharing with you below. I’m finding the best as they come into season and will post them here, of course.
My goal is that we can use the tags that I put on each recipe for you to find something to do with each bit of produce that you pick up. Does that sound like a good plan? To see the categories and tags that we have so far, click the three horizontal lines on the top left corner there.
This recipe is catered towards the heirlooms that we’ve got coming into the store lately. I love the light crunch from the beans, which are only partially cooked and cooled, the juicy salty and sweet tomato, and the sweetness of the corn. I’d like to experiment with not cooking the corn on this one. Comment below on your thoughts!
Remember the neat trick we showed a couple of weeks ago on trimming your green beans in seconds? Check it out here beneath our last green bean recipe.
- Coarse salt
- 3 ears corn, husks and silk removed
- 1 1/2 pounds green beans, stem ends snapped off
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 medium Heirloom tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 cups of small, mixed red heirloom tomatoes, halved
They say to cook the corn until tender in a large pot of salted water (5 to 7 minutes). Remove corn with tongs and set aside on a cutting board to cool. Using a strainer, remove any corn silk remaining in the pot. I like the taste of raw corn though, and I’d recommend trying it with raw kernels or if you’re near a grill, grilled corn. Yum!
Add the trimmed green beans and return to a boil, and cook until very tender, about 8 minutes (timing may vary depending on the size of the beans). Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and put kernels in a large bowl. Drain the beans in a colander, shake to remove excess water, and put in bowl with corn. Add garlic and 3 tablespoons of oil. Toss well and let stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend; refrigerate if longer than 30 minutes. I think that this is a great recipe to try making ahead and storing in the fridge for the following day. It holds up well and lets the flavors marinate just a little bit more.
If necessary, bring beans and corn to room temperature by removing them from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, remove the garlic and add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with vinegar, onion, and sliced tomatoes. Add salt to taste and serve at room temperature.
If you’re trying the recipe, make sure to leave us a comment below! We’d love to know how it went!
We have our first tomatoes of the season coming in, and you know what that means? One of my favorite Summertime treats: caprese salad. With simple fresh ingredients and limited cooking, the secret to the perfect caprese salad lies in the quality of ingredients. So below I’ve got not just how to put together a caprese salad, but what makes for the best tomato, the best mozzarella, and how to create a balsamic reduction.
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
What makes the perfect mozzarella?
For fresh mozzarella (the type you will need for a caprese salad) there are two dimensions: Flavor and texture. It goes without saying the the fattier the mozzarella (the higher fat content/percentage in the milk used for making it), the stronger the flavor. Check the fat content on the package to find the one that works best for you. Texture change as the cheese ages. The fresher/newer the cheese, the firmer and more elastic it is. This if the type of cheese that you will likely want for a caprese salad.
What makes the perfect tomato?
For a caprese salad, you will want a firm tomato with tender unblemished skin (as you will not be peeling them). Especially good tomatoes will feel heavy for their size and will be filled with juice when you cut into them. If you are growing them yourself, pick them off the vine just as their color is starting to change from orange to red. Keep them indoors out from direct sunlight (but not in the fridge) for 4-5 days. This will help them develop but not overripen and draw out more flavor.
How do you create a balsamic reduction?
A balsamic reduction will intensify the complex flavor of the balsamic to a state of become almost a glaze or sauce on its own. To create a balsamic reduction, pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once hot, drop the temperature down to low and let it reduce down to half its original size (about 10-15 minutes), stirring consistently and watching it carefully. Burning it is an easy task, so keep the overhead fan on with all that vinegar in the air and watch it carefully. You will know that it’s done when it coats the spoon when you take it out but the reduction is still pourable. If you end up going too far and it’s not pourable, stir in a little water and cook back down to the desired point. Use on your caprese salad, or as a drizzle over beef. If you love balsamic, check out the balsamic black pepper strawberry jam recipe here!
Directions for the Caprese Salad:
- Make your balsamic reduction (see above) and let cool down to room temperature.
- Cut your tomatoes into thick slices.
- Cut your mozzarella into slices of the same thickness as the tomatoes.
- Lay your slices of cheese and tomato interchanged on a plate, layering leaves of basil in between.
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the salad, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper to taste.