September 12, 2014

Tomato and Zucchini Galette

We’ve reached the end of Tomato Week here on the blog, and I’m ending with another one of my favorite things I’ve ever made – a pesto tomato and zucchini galette.  It combines so many wonderful flavors of summer, and despite being pretty simple, it’s fancy enough to serve to a crowd.  I’m a big fan of galettes, the rustic cousin of pies, because they’re supposed to be imperfect.  Whenever someone comments that they really struggle with rolling out pies, I suggest that they start with some galettes – you get to practice making and rolling out dough, but you don’t have to worry about getting it into a perfect circle quite yet, and if you roll it out right on the parchment paper, you also don’t have to worry about the dough ripping while you try to transport it into the pie pan.

I’ve made this before with regular basil pesto, but this time I used some of my oven-dried tomatoes to make tomato pesto for a little extra tomato flavor.  This also lends well to other summer vegetables, but I always have tomatoes and zucchini overflowing from my produce bins, and this is a great way to use up both.  I can’t think of a better way to highlight summer produce.

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Tomato and Zucchini Galette
Inspired by The Kitchn

Ingredients:

For the crust-

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, very cold, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water

For the pesto-

  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (recommended: use the olive oil from the sundried tomato jar)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the filling-

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds (alternatively, cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender).  Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse (or mix) just until the pastry begins to come together, another 5 to 10 seconds.  Gather the dough together and shape into a disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  This can be made several days ahead of time and kept refrigerated until you are ready to use it.
  2. To make the pesto, combine the sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, basil, and garlic in a food processor or blender.  Pulse a few times.  Slowly add the olive oil and continue to pulse until the pesto reaches a consistency somewhere between a paste and liquid.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Thinly slice the tomatos and zucchini using a mandolin or carefully by hand.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on the lightly-floured parchment paper.  Roll the dough into a large circle using a floured rolling pin, to a size around 12 inches in diameter.  If you only refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes, it will be quite soft, but don’t worry, it will bake up just fine.
  5. Spread about 1/3 of a cup of the tomato pesto in the center of the dough and spread it out to within an inch and a half of the edge of the dough.  Lightly drizzle olive oil on top of the pesto.  Arrange the sliced zucchini and tomatoes in a single layer over the top.
  6. Fold the ends of the dough up over the vegetables, overlapping the edges and creating pleats around the galette.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden.  Allow the galette to cool for 5 minutes before serving, and garnish with freshly grated cheese.

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September 11, 2014

Oven-Dried Tomato Chips

Oven-dried tomatoes for homemade tomato petso: this seemed like the perfect way to use up the dozen or so tomatoes I still had lingering around from the CSA.  I’ve never made oven-dried tomatoes before, so I did a little Google searching, and the only thing that every recipe had in common was warning you that no matter what, do! not! let! the! tomatoes! get! crispy! 

Guess what?  My tomatoes turned out crispy.  Extra, extra crispy.  And they were one of the best things I’ve ever made, and I cannot stop oven-roasting all my tomatoes now and devouring them.

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In short, most of the recipes I found were fairly similar, in that the tomatoes are sliced, placed in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper, and baked at a low temperature for a really long time.  Cherry tomatoes seemed to have a baking time of 3-4 hours, while sliced large tomatoes were often baked for 10-12 hours.  The first time I made these, it was after work, and I certainly didn’t have 10-12 hours to spare – I was not getting up at 4am to check on the tomato status.  So, I decided to change a few things that I thought would speed up the process a bit.  Instead of slicing the tomatoes by hand into thick-ish slices, I used my mandolin to slice them pretty thinly.  Then, instead of laying them on parchment paper and flipping them halfway through baking, I placed the tomato slices on a cooling rack, and placed the cooling rack in my oven, figuring the tomatoes would dry out from both sides.  I checked the tomatoes after 2.5 hours, expecting they’d still be pretty soggy… and they were so crispy, they broke in pieces as I tried to lift them off the sheet.  Whoopsie.  I knew they were too far baked to bother reconstituting in either water or oil, so I tasted one just to see if I could come up with any use for them.  And then I ate another, and another, and next thing I knew, there were no crispy tomato slices left.  Think kale chips – but so much better.  So, so much better.

Tomato chips: the best thing I’ve accidentally made.

That said, you can also use this method to make more standard sundried tomatoes – cut the tomatoes a little thicker, and start checking them a whole lot sooner.  I really enjoy that I now have two ways to use up all those end-of-summer tomatoes: I now have a big jar of chewy sundried tomatoes in my fridge, and a new favorite extra-crunchy snack.

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Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • fresh tomatoes, sliced (cherry or full sized; slice thicker for traditional sundried tomatoes, or thinly for chips)
  • salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs (I used basil and oregano) to taste (I recommend going heavy on the herbs for chips)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 F.
  2. Slice tomatoes according to use.  For traditional sundried tomato texture, I sliced by hand.  For tomato chips, I used the middle setting on my mandolin, which is quite a bit thinner than I could slice a tomato by hand.
  3. Place a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet.  Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the cooling rack, and sprinkle liberally with the salt, pepper, and herbs.
  4. Bake the tomatoes for ~1.5 hours until the texture is similar to a raisin.  For tomato chips, bake longer (~2.5 hours total), until the tomato is totally dehydrated and crispy.
  5. Enjoy tomato chips immediately.  I suspect they would keep well in an airtight bag, but every time I’ve made them, I’ve consumed them immediately.  The sundried tomatoes can be either frozen in their dehydrated state, or stored in a jar of olive oil in the refrigerator (my personal preference – don’t forget to use the olive oil for cooking once you’ve used up the tomatoes!).

September 10, 2014

Gnocchi, Sausage, and Tomato Skillet

It’s Day 3 of Tomato Week, and I’m presenting you with this super fast, yet still flavorful, gnocchi, sausage, and tomato skillet.  Not only does it come together quickly, but it’s one of those perfect “I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight” meals, because it’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand. 

Although we’re back to living together now, my husband and I have spent the vast majority of our 6 years of married life residing in different states, leaving me without regular access to a car.  Last year, I never had to worry about fresh produce throughout the spring, summer, and fall, thanks to our CSA, so I’d stock up on a lot of pantry basics during our monthly grocery trips – things that go well with a variety of vegetables, so I was prepared to handle whatever our CSA would throw my way.  Sure, homemade gnocchi is best, but you can usually find a package of the Wegmans shelf-stable gnocchi in my cabinet.  Mix together some gnocchi with sausage (spicy chicken or vegetarian, depending on who’s eating this!) and the fresh tomatoes from my CSA, along with a few basil leaves from my garden, and dinner is served.  This is also a great option if you’re cooking for individuals with specific diets: leave out the cheese and use vegan sausage and gnocchi (Wegmans gnocchi is vegan!), and you have a dish free of animal products.  Use gluten free rice gnocchi and sausage, and have your Celiac friends over for dinner. 

Dinner in less than 15 minutes that can be adapted to serve almost anyone?  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • 12 ounces chicken or soy sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • olive oil, salt, and pepper – to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and cook the gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain, and toss with a splash of olive oil.
  2. Heat a large (I use 12”) cast iron skillet over medium heat with a spray of olive oil.  Add the sausage and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it starts to brown.  Push the sausage over to one corner of the skillet.
  3. Turn the heat up to high, and add the tomatoes to the unoccupied space in the skillet.  Cook briefly, 1 to 2 minutes, until the skin is blistered, and then stir the tomatoes in with the sausage.  Cook for a few additional minutes, until the tomatoes and sausage are browned.
  4. Stir in the gnocchi and heat through.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the basil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

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Adapted from The Kitchen.

September 9, 2014

Corn, Crab, and Tomato Salad

Day two of Tomato Week is here, and this time, I’m featuring a corn, crab, and tomato salad.  I’ve mentioned before my pro-imitation crab stance for availability and affordability, but if you have access to fresh lump crab without breaking the bank, this would be even better!  This salad is so quick to throw together and adapts well to whatever ingredients you have on hand, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.  Just a little bit of Greek yogurt to add a nice tang, a little spiciness from the jalapenos, and the delicious summer combination of corn, tomato, and avocado.  This salad should be consumed fresh; it was very good on the first day, okay on a day two, and fairly unappetizing by the third day as the juice from the tomatoes turned everything a little soupy.

Two days of CSA tomatoes down – just in time for me to pick up another box of them today!

Ingredients:IMG_6312wtmk

  • 12 ounces fresh or imitation crab
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the crab, tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, and corn.  Stir together the Greek yogurt and lime juice, and add the yogurt mixture to the rest of the salad.  Gently combine to coat the salad, then top with the chopped basil and salt and pepper.

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September 8, 2014

Tomato Pie

I’m declaring this week Tomato Week on Bunsen Burner Bakery!

Why now, towards the end of tomato season?  Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the tomato overload right now.  When the tomatoes first started appearing in my CSA box and in my garden back in July, you may have caught me humming a few verses of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  In the beginning, the tomatoes came slowly, and each one was savored and used.  But now that we’ve reached the peak production of tomato season, I just can’t keep up.  Each week we’re receiving 5+ pounds of tomatoes from the CSA,and  in addition to my harvest from my little vertical garden on my patio, I’m getting overwhelmed.  Last week, I actually had to throw out a beautiful heirloom tomato because I just couldn’t get to it in time before it started to mold.  Well, no more!  This week, I’m using up all my tomatoes, and showing you what I’m doing, in the event you also are drowning under the weight of late-summer tomatoes. 

First up, tomato pie – perfect for any of those large, fat tomatoes you have on hand.  Despite the complete lack of any southern roots, tomatoes and mayonnaise are one of my favorite combinations.  Tomato sandwiches are probably my favorite part of summer, so I was really excited the first time I learned about tomato pie… until I tried it.  It was so soggy with so much mayo, it was completely unappetizing.  A few tweaks here and there, and I finally have a tomato pie I like: a little mayo, a little cheese, but mostly just delicious tomato flavor (and you can actually see the tomatoes – it doesn’t just sink the whole way into the gloppy cheesy mayo!). 

This is a great way to highlight really fresh tomatoes, and because it’s not soggy, it will reheat well if you’re finishing your leftovers for a few days like we did.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust (use your favorite homemade recipe or even store-bought… I won’t tell)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ripe tomatoes, sliced about 1/2-inch thin (I used about 2.5 heirloom tomatoes for this)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line a 9” tart pan with pie dough.
  3. Mix together the mayonnaise and the shredded cheese, and spread this mixture on the pie dough.  Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the basil on top of the cheese.
  4. Top with two layers of the sliced tomatoes, sprinkling liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes.  Top with the remaining basil and serve warm or room temperature.

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