Tomatoes Archive

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

roasted eggplant soup

goat cheese topped eggplant soup

I’ve been doing a spectacular amount of hemming and hawing over this post. There’s the, “Is it too late to talk about eggplants and tomatoes?” question, as it is well into October and eggplants are so… late summery. But there are still a ton of eggplants and tomatoes at the markets, likely due to this warm fall we’ve been having. Although they may not be the perky specimen that first appeared in August, they are absolutely perfect for soup. Then there’s the “Ugh, SOUP” issue wherein I have to admit that I find soup kind of dull. Sure, I’ve got a slew of soup recipes in the archives that I find interesting, but still, the vast majority of soups out there to be either too salty, too watery, cream bombs (I’d rather save my heavy cream to top pie, thank you very much) or to taste like limp, boiled vegetables. And finally, there’s the fact that this soup is excellent the way it is but with endless potential for tweaking, and who wants a slightly unfinished recipe? But then, thank goodness, I said this to myself: “Zzzzz!” and also “pbbbblt!” Because if I put myself to sleep with all of this hand-wringing, I can only imagine how few of you will make it past paragraph one.

ready to roast
roasted

So here’s how this soup began: My mother gushed a couple weeks ago about an eggplant soup from, of all places, a casino in Atlantic City. Eggplant soup! At a casino! Worth talking about! Who knew? And so I dug through my recipe bookmarks and found one from an old Bon Appetit that sounded just right, with a few steps that would save it from many of the aforementioned soup evils. By roasting the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and onion first, you’d deepen their flavors before throwing them in a stock bath. And although the original recipe called for a whole cup of cream, the head notes suggest you can skip it entirely, although I had no desire to do a silly thing like that. In my experience, it only takes a modicum of cream to make a soup taste especially lush, and that cream can go a long way towards anchoring the flavors that otherwise get a little lost in the … slosh of it all. Too much cream, and the flavors are held at a distance while you drown in richness, and I’d much rather save that for Things That Involve Cheese Or Chocolate.

eggplants, tomatoes, onion and garlic

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

linguine with tomato-almond pesto

linguine with tomato almond pesto

We are dragging this summer out. Maybe it’s because as far as I am concerned, it didn’t really start until August, when the bulk of the heat wave was behind us and we willingly ventured outside of our air-conditioned caves again, and when we finally took a little family vacation. Maybe it’s because if it is still summer, the baby is still a baby and not a one year-old toddler as he will be after this weekend. But it is most likely because we headed down the Garden State Parkway to Exit 0 last weekend for a belated 5 year anniversary mini-vacation without said baby and somehow, well into September, still got sun, sand and freckles. Summer in September? I’ll take it.



Despite the fact that the calendar may suggest fall clothes and butternut squash, the markets are still flooded with tomatoes. But, honestly, it wasn’t a sense of practicality that led me to this recipe. I mean sure, I had almonds, I also had precisely six plum tomatoes that needed to get eaten and I even had the slim margin of time needed to throw this together before starting the surprisingly exhausting dinner-bath-bed cycle for the boo. But that’s still not why I made it.

tomato, almonds, basil
to process

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 30, 2010

fresh tomato sauce

fresh tomato sauce

Around this time every summer, I see the best signs at the markets: “Ugly but tasty!” “Pretty on the inside!” “Don’t judge a tomato by its cover!” Beneath them are usually buckets of craggly misshapen tomato beasts, with coarse seams like they’d been stitched back together after some rough past and distinctly un-heirloom colors. At prices like a dollar a pound, obviously, they were destined for sauce.

matersmake an Xinto boiling watereasy peeling

But how to turn a bucket of awesome into a mindbogglingly delicious tomato sauce? I really thought I had it down. A few weeks ago, I hauled home six pounds for six bucks and me and my assistant proceeded to cook them down, and cook them down and wow, am I still cooking three hours later? Right, I forgot to seed them. And the seeds imparted this almost bitterish tinge. And I realized that I didn’t bring these cheap tomatoes home very often because I wasn’t that confident I could turn them into what I wanted to. Obviously, I was poised for an intervention.

naked tomatoeshalved, but they should be quarteredsqueezing out the seedsroughly chopped

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, July 25, 2010

summer succotash with bacon and croutons

succotash with bacon, croutons

[Er, croutons not pictured.] Here’s the thing: If you told me you were serving succotash with or for dinner, I’d inwardly groan. People, I’ve had all sorts of succotash — a summery stew of corn and lima beans, often with tomatoes, yet still so bland that no added butter or cream saves it for me, and when adding butter and cream don’t save something for me, you know something is terribly wrong — and can’t think of one that I wanted to run home and make for myself. It might be because it’s usually in the off-season, when the above come frozen and no, it’s just not the same. It might also be because I once had a roommate that would open cans of succotash, not drain it, heat it in the microwave and eat it straight and guys, it’s been many, many years and still, my stomach turns. Don’t ever live with me. I’m a jerk.

corn, limas and cranberry beans
split cherries

But this is different. This was a midsummer dinner dream, the result of another bleachingly sunny, sauna of a day when I staggered around the market and realized if I put this stand’s corn and that stand’s shell beans and those purty tomatoes together, I might make a succotash that was worth writing home about. I wondered if you could pork it up. I wondered if I could pass it off as a main course. I came home with the haul of all hauls and discovered, as I often do, that Gourmet (moment of silence) had beaten me to it more than a decade ago. I love it when they do that.

lima beansspeckled and pink cranberry beansmmm, sweet crunchy corntomatoes, so fresh and so sweet

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, July 18, 2010

scalloped tomatoes with croutons

scalloped tomatoes, seriously

The Food Network had the audacity (I am joking, a little) to air an episode of Barefoot Contessa in which she makes a “scalloped” dish with bread cubes, garlic, basil, Parmesan and the brightest most summer-bursting-forth, musta-tasted-like-the-heavens-above, thanks-for-rubbing-it-in-guys tomatoes over the winter, when there was absolutely nothing I could do to bring this dish into my kitchen. It wasn’t fair. It felt outright mean. For people as berserk about summer tomatoes as I am — people who avoid them in the off seasons, when they’re tomatoes in name only — being reminded of that which is as impossibly far off as the notion that there are days in the summer that are so hot, we actually long for the kind of weather that requires Gore-Tex and hot cocoa. It’s basically crazy talk.

basil, tomatoes and bread
grated parmesan

Well, that day is today. Seriously, every time I arrive at the market during this wretched July, I am so hot, I’m almost dizzy (Do I remember my water bottle? Of course not. Do I feel like a tool for whimpering over the heat while carousing with people who work in fields all day? Um, yup.) and I cannot remember a single thing I had meant to buy because the sun, it’s like blistering my brain and ooh look! Tomatoes! Ah, summer, that’s why I keep you around.

tasty tomato-ness

Continued after the jump »