Tomato, Cucumber, Onion and Mint Salad

IMG_3224We like to have delicious light lunches that are not sandwiches and don’t have to include meat, cheese, or bread.  Recently I saw a similar version of this salad  that Paula Deen recommended. It is a refreshing departure from one based on lettuce or other greens. It is too late in the season for our garden to provide the tomatoes and cucumbers, but we have more than enough mint and parsley!  This works well with a triangle of pita bread, or as a side if we use it for dinner with grilled meats or fish. Try this with chopped basil and some mozarella balls for an entirely different but tasty salad..

Tomato, Cucumber,, Onion, and Mint Salad

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup (or more to taste) fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon chopped Parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomato, cucumber, onion, and mint in salad bowl.  In liquid measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour over vegetables and mint and toss. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Pasta Caprese

IMG_2752A combination of two of our favorite summer salads, Pasta Caprese is perfect for Sunday lunch after church, for taking to a potluck, or as a side to serve with grilled meats or fish. We make a wide variety of pasta salads using ingredients that are in the pantry or frig. An all time favorite is Caprese made with fresh garden tomatoes, basil, and a slice of whole milk Mozarella. For this bowl of combined flavors, I use canned tomatoes and grated Mozarella, but you could also chop fresh tomatoes and/or use little Mozarella balls to make it even better. This recipe makes a large amount. Can be made ahead.

Caprese Pasta Salad

1 pound tube pasta such as penne or gemelli

1 28 ounce can or box of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid for later use)

2 cups shredded mozarella

fresh basil leaves , shredded (I used a large bunch, but add this to taste)

sea salt and pepper,

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Cook pasta to package directions, al dente. Drain past, add to large bowl, and add drained tomatoes, shredded basil, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and add balsamic vinaigrette

Southwestern Meatloaf

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We enjoyed a new twist on traditional meat loaf this week.  I have made meat loaf like Mother did (ground beef, tomato sauce, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, and green pepper) as well as substituting bread crumbs or oatmeal  for the filler and different seasonings, but this spicy version is a keeper. Crushed tortilla chips and salsa make it a super quick and easy. I liked serving it with fresh roasted corn, black beans, and a garden salad.

IMG_2706Southwestern Meat Loaf

1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 crushed and minced garlic cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup peach salsa (or salsa of your choice)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup cup grated cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons spicy ketchup

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, crush tortilla chips in sandwich bag, add to mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, cumin,garlic and salsa and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.  Add ground beef and cheese.  Mix well, shape into an oval, place in loaf pan, and bake for 50 minutes.  Mix ketchup and lime juice and spread over top of meat loaf, then return to oven for another 10 minutes.

I used some tasty peach salsa but you can use any salsa, preferably a chunky one. Turn up the heat by trying Chipotle or Habanero Salsa!

Mediterranean Baked Squash

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A trip to a local Farmers’ Market recently yielded some beautiful late season summer squash – yellow crook-neck and deep green zucchini. By adding the yellow, red, and purple peppers plus herbs from our garden, this easy to bake dish is full of flavor as well as color. It is a ratatouille style dish but does not include eggplant. I made it twice last week, once for our table, and once to take to a choir potluck supper. It was well received at both places!

Mediterranean Baked Squash

2 large yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds

2 large zucchini, sliced in thin rounds

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 purple or green pepper, sliced

1 yellow pepper, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

fresh basil, chopped

fresh or dried thyme

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside of baking dish top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tomatoes over bottom of dish.  Add olive oil, onions, and garlic and stir to blend.  Layer squash and peppers with alternating colors, starting at edges of the dish and working toward center, overlapping slightly.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cracker pepper, basil and thyme.

Place parchment paper cut to fit inside baking dish on top of vegetables and bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Remove parchment and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Mahi Mahi Poached in Olive Oil with Tomato, Olive, and Rosemary Salsa

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Before I was married (over 50 years ago!), I rarely ate fish cooked any way but fried.  My personal favorite was fried shrimp. Mother avoided most fish, but loved fried catfish. My parents owned a small cafe where my father cooked delicious foods, but I don’t remember his ever serving seafood other than fried fish and shrimp. Daddy loved fried oysters, and liked to make oyster stew with fresh oysters when he cooked at home, especially at Christmas. I still enjoy fried oysters, shrimp and catfish with hush puppies. But now, we enjoy a variety of fresh fish cooked in many ways.  For quick family suppers, my go-to methods of preparation are grilling and baking.  We grow fresh herbs in our garden, so often have fish paired with fresh dill, rosemary, or thyme. When This recipe was originally published Coastal Living. I did a search and found several versions online. I had never poached fish in olive oil before and wanted to try it  The results were delicious so it won’t be the last time I use this combination of flavors or this method of cooking.  The following is the way I adapted the Coastal Living recipe.  And yes, we do live on the South Texas Gulf Coast.

Mahi Mahi Poached in Olive Oil with Rosemary and Tomato Salsa

2 (4-6 ounce) Mahi Mahi filets

2 cups olive oil

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

4 Roma or Compari tomatoes (small, but not cherry tomatoes), halved

2 Tablespoons capers

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

1 Tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Heat olive oil in flat sided deep skillet.Place tomatoes in oil, cut side down, along with 1 sprig of rosemary.  Cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender  Remove tomatoes to plate to cool.  Rinse fish and pat dry before sprinkling with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Lower fish carefully into flavor infused hot olive oil and poach  8 to 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with fork. Remove from oil and place on serving dish.

While fish is cooking, put tomatoes in bowl and mash with fork or a few swirls of an immersion blender.  Add capers, chopped Kalamata olives, chopped rosemary, and vinegar.  Spoon this mixture over fish in serving dish and garnish with a whole sprig of rosemary.

 

 

Caprese

IMG_0465One of the simplest summer salads is this most beautiful and flavor filled Italian favorite It is a family favorite, and I can (and have!) eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Insalata caprese (salad of Capri) consists of freshly sliced tomatoes and mozzarella topped with basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  In Italy it is usually served as antipasto rather than as a side salad. The classic recipe has only olive oill, but we enjoy adding a splash of aged balsamic vinegar.  Home grown tomatoes and full fat mozzarella guarantee a satisfying, refreshing plate of goodness.

Caprese

3 large, ripe tomatoes.

3-4 slices mozzarella

fresh basil leaves

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

balsamic vinegar, optional

Slice tomatoes thinly and arrange on large plate. Cut mozzarella into triangles or slice if using ball of mozzarella.  Add to tomatoes and garnish with whole basil leaves.  Drizzle olive oil over the top and add salt and pepper. Pass balsamic vinegar.

 

 

Linguini with Shrimp and Arugula

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I love tangy bitter greens in salads, but the added flavor arugula brings to this sauce for linguini is amazing.  Preparation is simple even though a few steps are necessary for the sauce to come out right.  A fresh bunch of arugula from our CSA share this past week paired well with these ingredients.  We will make this again soon! Recipe is adapted from one found at http://www.epicurious.com, printed in a 1993 issue of Epicurious.

 

Shrimp and Arugula with Linguini.

yield:Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (about 12), shelled and deveined
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup canned chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bunch of arugula, the stems discarded and the leaves washed wel
  • 3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet basil
  • 1/2 pound linguini

In a heavy skillet heat oil until it is hot but not smoking,and sauté shrimp,  garlic, and  pepper flakes, stirring until the shrimp are pink and almost cooked through. Take out shrimp with a slotted spoon and reserve.

In the same skille,  add onion, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are tender. Add whitee wine and simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add broth, simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, and stir in the cream. Simmer the sauce until it is thickened slightly, then stir in arugula and shrimp, and simmeruntil the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the parsley, basil, salt and pepper and keep the sauce warm, covered. In a kettle of boiling salted water cook linguini until al dente.  Drain pasta, then combine with sauce in large bowl.  serve with shaved parmesan on top and add a slice of crusty French bread.

Heirloom Tomato Tart

005I love my kitchen garden, even at this time of year when many plants are reaching the end of the season.  The weeks during which I can harvest a few fresh tomatoes everyday are second only to the mostly year round abundance of my herb garden.  I have fallen in love with Heirloom tomatoes – their odd shapes, deep rich colors, and variety of mouth watering tastes.  My favorites are Cherokee Purple, Arkansas Traveler and Old German – which are the varieties I used in this delicious savory tart.  Last year Joe gave me a wonderful cookbook titled Harvest to Heat, cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans, compiled by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. The book jacket features a photo of this pie that made me want to make it  My version is much simpler, but the Creme Fraiche Galette with Heirloom Tomatoes would certainly have some extra layers of flavor and flair!  I found that recipe at several online links.  Here is the original, by Naomi Pomeroy:

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/creme-fraiche-galette-heirloom-tomatoes.aspx

Here is my quick-to-fix version!

  • 1 prepared pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated crust, rolled – found in the refrigerated section of the market, not in the freezer, and NOT in a foil pan)
  • 3-4 tomatoes, a combination of sliced heirloom tomatoes and other tomatoes, sliced.  If your tomatoes are small, you will need more.
  • 1/3 lb.  manchego cheese, grated
  • coarse ground sea salt

Set refrigerated pie crust roll out for at least 15 minutes to soften. (There will be 2 in the package, use only one).

Put the tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Lay the tomatoes on several sheets of paper towel to drain so they will dry out a bit.

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Heat oven to 425°F.  Dust a pastry sheet or tea towel with flour, and unroll the pie crust, pressing into a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Slide a rimless baking sheet under the dough. Leaving a  2 to 3-inch border, scatter the cheese on top of the dough, then arrange the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes, making pleats as you fold and leaving the center of the tart open.

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Bake the tart until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with mint or basil if desired.  Wonderful served with fresh greens and vinaigrette.

Zesty Zucchini

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We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.

Texas Tomato Pie

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I have made several variations of pies named Tomato Pie.  There have been tomato tarts with French ancestry made with puff pastry, a Greek version with lots of thyme and lemon produced on sheets of phyllo, Italian flatbread with olive oil and tomatoes and basil, close kin to pizza.  Southern tomato pies may all have tomatoes in common, but little else other than a tender flaky crust.  What makes this pie a Texas pie?  Pecans and jalapeno peppers!  And it just may be the tastiest tomato pie ever.  My recipe is the result of combining ideas from recipes in Texas Recipes and the lovely Houston Junior League cookbook titled Peace Meals.  Peace to you and yours when you sit down to share this meal!  It needs only a garden salad tossed with a light citrus vinaigrette as an accompaniment.

Texas Tomato Pie

 

 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup brie cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground  pepper
3 cups grape tomatoes, sliced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup minced jalapeños
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Basil, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place pie crust in the oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes or until the bottom begins to brown slightly.

Remove from oven, sprinkle 1 cup of the mozarella over the bottom while still hot, then set aside while you work on the filling.

1. Wash basil leaves and pat dry.  Roll leaves together and slice thinly for chiffonade. Mince garlic and mix with basil.

2. Mix pieces of brie,  remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese with mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and  pepper.

3. Seed and mince jalapeno peppers.

4. Cut the grape tomatoes into thin slices.

5. Layer these ingredients into pie.
Scatter tomatoes over the mozzarella cheese in the pie crust. Sprinkle salt and jalapeños over the tomatoes, then the garlic and basil mixture over the tomatoes and jalapeños.

With a teaspoon, put dots of mayonnaise and cheese mixture over the top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Bake for 45  minutes or until the crust is golden brown and pie is bubbling.