Tag Archives: tomatoes

Tomatoes in the Raw

Raw Tomato Sauce on Pasta

I’m still avoiding any extended cooking, but I realized I’ve missed having a simple pasta dinner. For anyone that knows me, you know how strange it is when I say that we haven’t made a pasta dinner all summer. I’ve had some pasta salads, sure, but it’s not quite the same thing.

A trip to the Nathan Phillips Square farmer’s market on Wednesday gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my love of pasta with my desire to not be stuck in front of a hot stove.

Tomato Basket

Tomato season is in full swing here in Ontario, and I was inundated with piles and piles of fresh, ripe tomatoes of many varieties. I bought a few piles, in three varieties. To justify this purchase, I had to think of something that would use up a bunch of them at once. A raw tomato sauce was in order!

If you’ve never had a raw tomato sauce, you might be amazed at how simple and quick it is. It’s pretty much how it sounds – a sauce made up of uncooked tomatoes. “Sauce” might be a misnomer, though, as it’s almost more of a tomato salad that you toss with hot pasta.

There – I gave away my secret.

Chopped Tomatoes

The real secret is just how amazing it tastes when you have fresh, LOCAL tomatoes on hand. Like a tomato salad, it really won’t work with mealy tomatoes, or tomatoes that spent most of their ripening on a truck. I picked up a basket of roma tomatoes for this, but you could use your favourite unmealy (is that a word?) tomato.

The recipe I used can be adapted to your taste – use the kind of tomato you like best, use the herbs you like best, the oil you like best, the shape of pasta you like best (although short stubby ones like penne seem to work best). I added in some grilled eggplant, and I think next time I might add some blanched green beans for crunch. It’s a dish that is as easy to customize as the usual pasta sauce, but without all of the stewing and cooking stuff.

Recipe after the jump!

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Caprese Salad – A Summer Classic

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is one of those things I take for granted. I think of this the way some people think of an iceberg salad – simple, fresh and super quick to make. I almost didn’t want to post this, because I figure everyone already makes Caprese salad. This post is for the folks who have never tried this delicious salad, or had it at a restaurant once and thought it must be more complicated than it looks (it isn’t).

The basic recipe contains very few ingredients: tomatoes; bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella; fresh basil and is dressed with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and sometimes (but not always) balsamic vinegar. This is a perfect salad for the summer, and a great break from leafy greens.

Cluster Tomatoes

Wee tomatoes growing in my balcony garden. So darn cute!

The star of the Caprese salad is the tomato. You really need to have the freshest, tastiest tomatoes that have no mealiness to them (so, really, beefsteak tomatoes are kind of out). I like to use Campari tomatoes (like the ones shown below), romas, cherry or grape tomatoes from the local farmers’ market… but my favourite new thing is to use tomatoes out of my own garden. This is the first time I’ve grown tomatoes, and I giggle every time I pick a tomato off of my plant. Nice.

There are many variations on this salad, but this follows the most basic set of steps. One really important thing to remember is that the slices of tomato should be a similar shape and size to that of the cheese. This can result in a salad made up of layered rows of ingredients, or a toss of chopped ingredients. It’s really up to you. I generally like the layered look. I really like the look of big slices of tomato layered with big slices of cheese — but that can be harder to eat, so I usually get the smaller balls of bocconcini to pair with cherry or grape tomatoes.


Campari tomatoes, still on the vine.

Recipe after the jump!

Continue reading Caprese Salad – A Summer Classic

Greeky Eggs

Greeky Eggs

I’m not a breakfast-making chick. When I wake up, I usually grab one of two things: a breakfast pita topped with almond or peanut butter; or a bowl of yogurt and granola. J does a little better on weekends, often making us some delicious waffles.

I wanted to make something special for once, so I pulled out an old copy of LCBO Food & Drink magazine, and made Baked Eggs with Feta and Dill.

Greeky Eggs - closer

This was a simple – but fun – dish to make. I got to use my cute little white ramekins, which rarely see the light of day. It looks and tastes more sophisticated than it actually was to make.

While this would be great at any time of year, I think this is one of those dishes that are best appreciated in the Spring and Summer. The light and fresh vegetable flavours are a perfect way to start the day. This would also be great as a part of a larger brunch spread, with some chilled white wine or mimosas (Darn! I knew I forgot something!).

The recipe can be found on the LCBO website: Baked Eggs with Feta and Dill. I always look forward to the seasonal Food & Drink magazines, both for the recipes and the fantastic photos. It’s like a food blog in paper form… what will they think of next!? (hahaha)

Deep South Spiced Rice & Beans

Deep South Rice & Beans

Deep South Spiced Rice & Beans (p.137, Classic Vegetarian Recipes) – Being “mostly vegetarian”, I try to find recipes that include legumes of some kind. This sounded like a good dish to try, as it incorporates beans and some fresh veggies. It’s a good one for the spring, because it isn’t heavy and saucey.

This is another dish I found in one of my old, dusty cookbooks. It’s a pretty good one, but really not that much unlike things I make on my own. I actually substituted black beans for the suggested kidney beans, because that’s what I had on hand.

I love the colourful peppers in this dish. I think it’s true that the more colour in a dish, the more you want to eat it. I know I eat some things that look pretty rough – some stews and things that have a mushy brown thing going on – but I do love to add colour with veggies and herbs.

What does this dish have that I don’t usually add? Cajun spice. Until recently, I didn’t really think about Cajun spice. Then I had to make some in a pinch because the jar I thought I had was gone… Then I came across dish after dish calling for the vague “Cajun spice” (come ON people, just tell us what spices to use!). Now armed with “my own blend” and some in my spice drawer, I am prepared for such recipes.