Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fresh and/or Roasted Tomato Cappellini

I have tomatoes! This year’s rainy spring and late frost pushed my tomatoes back by about 3 weeks and I have been anxiously waiting and watching for them to ripen. Why? Because there is nothing better than a fresh tomato eaten straight from the garden. Or on a sandwich with crispy lettuce, or with my favorite pesto on pasta. Or…or…or…I could go on forever.

However, eventually there comes a time at the end of summer (not yet…), when all the tomatoes seem to ripen at the same time and I’m inundated with way too many.

And a sandwich doesn’t sound good…

And I don’t feel ambitious enough to can them…

And I’m tired of salad, and I don’t feel like making sauce…

And I’m thinking I planted way too many plants, and next year I’ll remember this and do better.

What exactly do you do with all those cherry tomatoes anyway?

You make Cappellini, and invite your friends or family for dinner.

This recipe chases all my grumpies away… It uses lots of tomatoes. It is very easy to make, feeds lots of people, and is a great recipe for use with both fresh and/or roasted tomatoes. Roasting the cherry tomatoes caramelizes the sugars and gives a delightful smoky flavor to the pasta. Fresh tomatoes give a sweet lemony flavor. Try this dish both ways and then mix the roasted and fresh for an entirely different flavor. Each way is unique and equally wonderful.

Best of all, when I make this…and close my eyes to appreciate the flavors of tomato, garlic, and basil…I fall in love all over again.

And I vow to plant just as many plants, if not more, next year.

Fresh and/or Roasted Tomato Cappellini
Serves 6-8
(as always...amounts in recipes are approximate...feel free to be creative)

1 medium onion—minced
4-5 cloves garlic—minced fine or crushed
1-2 Tbs olive oil, plus more if roasting tomatoes
4-6 cups fresh tomatoes—diced or if using cherry tomatoes, roasted
½ cup fresh basil—chiffonade
2 Tbs fresh parsley—minced
1-2 Tbs balsamic vinegar or lemon juice (see note below)
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup freshly grated parmesan and or Romano cheese
1 lb angel hair pasta—cooked al dente
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta as per directions on package

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add fresh or roasted tomatoes and cook over medium heat for an additional 5-10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, parsley, and basil and stir to wilt herbs (about 1 minute). Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with pasta and add cheese. Serve immediately.

For Roasting: Place tomatoes on parchment or no-stick tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in 450 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they look like the picture below.

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil.

Add roasted tomatoes...

Alway use fresh herbs if possible...

This batch we mixed the roasted tomatoes with fresh. Toss with pasta...yum!

A note about tomatoes: There are many varieties of heirloom tomatoes available in home gardens and farmers markets and I encourage you to try them all. Yellow varieties have a wonderful citrus flavor that is not to be missed. When we make this recipe with fresh and especially the yellow varieties, we use lemon juice instead of balsamic vinegar for the brightness of flavors it yields. With the roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinegar seems to yield the better dish. Play around and let me know what works for you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pineapple Zucchini Bread

Late August always brings me Garden Fatigue. What started so hopefully in the spring and blossomed with joy as my garden grew all summer, has now withered with an overabundance of vegetables, and the grim reality (for me at least) of canning season. However, one bright star remains...Baking. I love to bake. And when I’m tired of zucchini fried, raw, steamed, stir-fried, grilled, and broiled, there is bread. I found this recipe (another cut from the Oregonian newspaper) and it has been my favorite since.

There is no author attribution on the yellowed newspaper clipping residing in my recipe book—but my eternal gratitude to the genius that shared this recipe. It's easily the best recipe for Zucchini bread I've ever tried.

As is always the case, the dump cook in me has refined and tweaked it, but the core remains. Baking offers special challenges for the dump cook—it being not as friendly to changes in amount and ingredients as other forms of cooking. Fortunately, a little extra zucchini here, or a few more raisins there, doesn’t seem to affect the taste of this bread. The recipes as it stands is wonderful, but try it with a streusel topping and it’s beyond. Nana tells me if you wait until the bread has cooked for 35 to 40 minutes and then add the topping, it won’t dimple in the middle as it does if you add it before baking. (Yep, I’m gonna try that next time…) Just be careful not to jostle the pans, as you don’t want it to fall.

I also have to confess to ulterior motives for posting this recipe online. My good friend Rosie, has lost it 4 years in a row now...and just last week she asked me for it again.Smiley This one’s for you Rosie! ♥ Happy Baking!

Pineapple Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup shredded zucchini
8 ¼ oz can crushed pineapple, well-drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
1 cup pecans or walnuts--finely chopped
1 cup raisins, craisins, or currents

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour, or spray with no stick cooking spray, two 8-by-4 inch loaf pans

Beat eggs, add oil, sugar, and vanilla, and continue beating until mixture is thick. With spoon stir in zucchini and pineapple.

In a separate bowl combine flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, and raisins. Stir with fork to mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just blended.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans about 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Streusel Topping: optional
(I usually don’t measure these, so amounts are approximate…feel free to improvise)

¼ cup flour
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs white flour

Mix together with your fingers until you have a crumbly mixture. As mentioned above, add to top of bread after baking for 35 to 40 minutes.
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