Friday, August 29, 2014

Fresh Tomato Pizza


If you are what you eat, I might soon turn into a giant tomato. Exactly what kind of tomato is a good question. This summer, we experimented with growing tomatoes in pots, on the deck (up high and safe from our resident critters.) Four varieties: roma, beefsteak, cherry, and heirloom. Truth be told, we half-expected that they would not thrive very well given that, firstly, we were growing them in pots and, secondly, that tomato plants are, in general, susceptible to disease. We never expected that we would be reaping vine-ripened tomatoes all summer long.  And by extension, that we would be eating tomatoes all summer long. In cous cous, on bruschetta, in salads, in pasta - these past couple months have been a mini tomato festival at our house. 

As the nights here in Minnesota are getting cooler, the plants are beginning to show signs of the end. They are "thinning", and the leaves are drooping and turning a sort of blue-purple color. But, surprisingly, the cherry tomato plant is still bearing. I managed to pick quite a bit a few days ago, most of which ended up on this pizza. Instead of baking the tomatoes with the other toppings, I decided to put them on after the pizza had baked, in order to savor all of its freshness. For the crust, I used store-bought dough - this can be so convenient on weeknights. And I also added a bit of sun-dried tomato paste to the sauce, which, to me, makes a more flavorful sauce but is by no means necessary. 

Here's to the last few days of summer! 

Fresh Tomato Pizza
Makes one 10" pizza

pizza dough (enough to make one 10" pizza)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pizza sauce 
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (optional)
8-10 oz mozzarella, sliced
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Set the oven to 450 degrees F. 
2. On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough to about 10" in diameter. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. 
3. Drizzle the olive oil over the pizza dough and, using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread evenly. Next, spread on the pizza sauce. (If using sun-dried tomato paste, stir this into the pizza sauce before spreading it on the pizza dough.) Arrange the mozzarella slices evenly on top. 
4. Bake until the crust is crisp and brown and the mozzarella is bubbly, about 15 minutes. 
5. Right before serving, top the pizza with the fresh cherry tomatoes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Watermelon Peppermint Iced Tea - Take Two



Watermelon peppermint iced tea anyone? I made this a few years ago and it was a hit; even ended up on Saveur magazine's website! This time instead of peppermint tea bags, I used fresh mint, which is growing like wild in our garden. About 40 fresh mint leaves should be ample. Find the original recipe here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sweet Corn Salsa



If you were to ask a cross-section of farmers market patrons, you would likely get two general responses on how they shop the market. Some go with lists which they seldom deviate from, while others peruse the stalls and buy whatever looks goods. I am a combination of both, usually going with  a list but not afraid to try something new.

Last Saturday, I was there with my friend who shops the market completely differently from the way I do. Her approach has nothing to do with shopping at all. Instead, the first thing she does is get in line at the burrito stand - for a breakfast burrito topped with her favorite fresh, corn salsa. Such has been her ritual for a number of years she also knew that you can purchase containers of this delicious salsa, and if it is not out on the counter, you just have to ask.

It is corn season in the midwest and you can get some of the sweetest corn at the moment at farmers markets throughout the twin cities And I am certain this is what makes the salsa so good at that burrito stand. Fresh, local, sweet corn. This, of course, inspired my recipe here. And don't forget to try it with some scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Sweet Corn Salsa

2 tbsp vegetable oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 tsp agave
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
4 ears of cooked, sweet corn
1 cup of diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2 jalepenos, seeded and diced
2 tbsp minced cilantro

1. Whisk together the first five ingredients.
2. Remove the kernels of corn from the cobs and add, along with the remaining ingredients to the dressing. Combine well. Top with extra cilantro, if desired, before serving.






Friday, July 4, 2014

Watermelon Agua Fresca



Today we are hosting a backyard barbecue where we will be serving this watermelon agua fresca. Watermelon beverages epitomize summer so we tend to try a new watermelon-based recipe every year. This drink is light and refreshing and as simple as pureeing watermelon with some water and agave, and pouring over glasses filled with ice cubes (or, as we prefer, watermelon ice cubes.) Happy 4th of July!

Watermelon Agua Fresca
Serves about 6

10 cups fresh watermelon cubes
3 cups water
1/4 cup agave syrup
watermelon ice cubes (see how to make them here)
approx. 30 mint leaves

Puree the watermelon cubes with the water and agave syrup until very smooth. Coarsely crush the mint leaves at the bottom of a serving pitcher. Pour the agua fresca over the crushed mint leaves and stir well. To serve, fill a serving glass with watermelon ice cubes and top off the with agua fresca. Garnish with additional mint leaves. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peas


I read an article recently about foods that we should "break up" with. Some are quite obvious, such as white flour and processed meats. White flour because it lacks any nutrients and causes a spike in blood sugar levels. Processed meats because they contain saturated fats and unsavory fillers. Others are not too obvious, for example, dried fruit. Fruit, both fresh and dried are good for us, no? It turns out that some dried fruit preparations can contain added sugar and corn syrup, extra sources of glucose that most of us do not need.

Today, I am "breaking up" with spaghetti squash but not for  any of the reasons you might think. This recipe has been overdone at our house. It is one that I have been making almost bi-weekly since last fall. So I think it is time to give it a rest, for fear that my hubby will never want to see another spaghetti squash again. If you do get to try this recipe, you will surely agree that its ease of preparation and simple healthfulness make for a wholesome weeknight meal, and I'm sure you will understand why it become a  go-to recipe at our house over the last few months. 


Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peas

Serves 3 to 4

1 spaghetti squash
1/2 lb spicy sausage
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan
chopped parsley

1.  Carefully cut the squash lengthwise in half. Brush the cut sides with a little oil and place cut side down of a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes until the spaghetti threads can easily be removed with a fork.
2. Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium high heat, for about 10  minutes, trying your best to break up any large chunks into small bite-sized pieces.
3. Once the sausage has been properly cooked, add in the  spaghetti squash and the peas. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.