Creamy Grilled Tomato Soup

soup-1

It’s that time of the year again – the last few weeks of summer.  Today it’s not so bad; however, yesterday it was in the 90s outside with humidity to match. My husband was watching Michigan playing football on television.  Wait a minute, isn’t football watching weather supposed to be somewhat cool?  Something like it was a few weeks ago when we were in the Scottish highlands? 

highlands 

Well, even though the weather is not cooperating with my current frame of mind, summer’s end is absolutely the best time for tomatoes.  However, since I got sick with a nasty bug while in Scotland, soup seemed more appropriate for my situation than another salad.

soup-2

One of the things I love to do when I travel is go to a local bookstore and see what sort of cookbooks written by local chefs are available.  Note:  Scotland was no different.  Recipes for baked goods with lots of oats will be seen on Jeannine’s Cuisine in the future.

soup-3 

When my husband and I went to Traverse City, Michigan, at the beginning of the summer I went on my usual cookbook scavenger hunt and found a winner.  It’s a beautiful little book called “Fork in the Road,” written by Okemos, Michigan chef, Eric Villegas.  The recipes make great use of the local produce, none are too time consuming and “restauranty,” but they all have a little twist to make them interesting.

tomatoes

This tomato soup is great made with seasonal summer tomatoes.  And don’t limit yourself to just the standard supermarket variety.  I imagine you could make this with any variety of heirloom tomato as well.  Just be careful when mixing colors so as not to end up with something weird.  It will still taste great, but the final color could be a little distasteful looking.  Sadly, I do not recommend this soup with anything but the ripest, freshest tomatoes, so you are pretty much limited to making it in the summertime.  Think of it this way – those tomatoes are what makes all this heat we’ve been withstanding worthwhile.

soup-4 

Creamy Grilled Tomato Soup

4-6 Servings

Unlike traditional tomato soup, the color of this one turns out as a pastel version of whatever tomato you are using. Don’t begin to think that lack of a vibrant color means lack of tomato taste.  It’s smoky and delicious.

5 pounds of ripe Summer tomatoes, type your choice

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste

2 cups heavy cream

Preheat your grill.

Place the tomatoes on the grill core side up and grill until they turn black, turning once.  Use tongs to remove the tomatoes from the grill, placing them and any charred bits you can peel off the grill in a large saucepan.

Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes as much as possible.  Season with a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Continue to taste and season while preparing the soup.

Bring the tomatoes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are reduced to a thick puree, about 20 minutes, but adjust cooking time as needed. 

Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Note: a Vitamix is great for this, but any blender will do.  Be very careful when blending hot liquids so as not to splatter the kitchen and yourself with molten tomatoes.  Fill the blender container no more than two thirds full at a time and take out the removable center of the lid and cover with a towel with your hand firmly on top.  The towel will keep the liquid in the blender, but allow the steam to escape. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup, but the texture won’t be as smooth.

Return the soup to the pan, add the cream and cook until warm, about 5 minutes.  Check seasoning one more time and serve.

Adapted from Fork in the Road, by Eric Villegas

Summer’s Final Days – Caponata

Caponata Bowl 1

I hope everyone has enjoyed this summer. We have been particularly busy this year but have still had time to enjoy all the wonderful produce that is at the markets this time of year. It will be gone before we know it.

Caponata Veg 1

We’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling, culminating in a 2-week trip to Washington and Montana. This is the one time of the year that I put work and the frantic pace of daily life in Virginia behind me. NO TRAFFIC – Ahhh! There is a reason they call Montana “Big Sky.”

Montana

My first experience with caponata was years ago, when a colleague who was living in Rome at the time asked if I would send some coffee to him from Bogota, Colombia, where I was living. I agreed if he would send me a box of Italian pantry items in return. He did not disappoint; what a haul! Years later, I’ve never forgotten it. One of the items in the box was a can of caponata. Even the Italian canned version was delicious and I resolved to make a fresh version at home.

Caponata toast 1

I’ve tried many versions of caponata over the years, but this one surpassed all the others. Maybe it’s the capers. My husband is always giving me a hard time about my extreme love of capers. Honestly, I could eat them on almost anything – well, maybe not ice cream…hmmm.

Caponata Bowl 2

Caponata is a sweet and sour cooked vegetable dish that originated in Sicily as a side for fish dishes. It was originally made with eggplant and celery, but today there are numerous versions that can contain everything from pine nuts to octopus.

Caponata Veg 2

Caponata is a wonderful way to use up some of that extra summer produce from the garden or the farmers market. It can be used in a variety of ways – as a side with virtually any meat, or as part of an antipasto platter. I’ve even seen it whirred in a blender with olive oil and vinegar and made into salad dressing. However, my favorite way to enjoy it is for lunch as a topping on crusty bread with a nice schmear of fresh ricotta or goat cheese.

Caponata toast 2

Eggplant Caponata

6 Cups

Caponata can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Serve warm or at room temperature. Feel free to substitute zucchini for the summer squash or even use one of each. Serve as a side dish, as a dip for pita crisps or crackers or on bread with ricotta or goat cheese.

1 eggplant, about 14 ounces, trimmed and sliced crosswise, 1/2 inch thick

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 yellow summer squash

5 white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 ounces tomato sauce

1 roasted red pepper, chopped, or 1 4-ounce can chopped pimento

1 tablespoon drained capers

6 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the eggplant slices on an oiled sheet pan and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly then chop and set aside.

Slice the summer squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Chop into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large wide saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat until the surface is shimmering and you can smell the oil, 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onions and chopped squash to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute.

Stir in the red wine and vinegar. Add the tomato, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the tomato softens, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the tomato sauce, roasted red pepper, capers, olives, basil, parsley, and the chopped eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Adapted from Pacific Northwest the Beautiful by Kathy Casey

A Summer Salad – Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

Coleslaw !

Now that Memorial Day is a couple of weeks behind us, it’s “officially” summer, even if the solstice is still 2 weeks away. I know this because I just popped the first bright yellow cherry tomato off one of the tomato plants and ate it right there in the garden with the sun beating down. Mmmmm! I love taking a bowl of them to work to have with my lunch. Such a nice change from our usual green salad.

Eating that cherry tomato is actually how I discovered that I accidentally bought two cherry tomato plants rather than a cherry and a big tomato plant, as I had intended. Ooops! That’s okay. It was an excuse to go buy another tomato plant and a few corn plants as well. Now I have an even bigger “farm” than I did before and, more important, even more tomatoes this summer.

Coleslaw 2

So I go a little nuts with the summer veggies. My next-door neighbor saw me as I was carrying the box of plants to the garden and exclaimed…”more plants, Jeannine? Is that CORN? Big corn or little corn?” Truth be told, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I’ll find out. And I’m still laughing about the incredulous look on his face. Hmmm, I guess it’s like the cookbook thing. I may have a veggie problem.

This salad is ideal for the warm, humid days of summer. Other than a few items during the holidays, I don’t have a lot of go-to recipes that I make all the time. My husband often jokes about my “5-year rotation” on recipes. This salad is the exception. I first prepared it many years ago while living in Athens, Greece. I served it at a Memorial Day picnic I had at my house and it was a huge hit. Sour cream was totally unavailable in Athens, but Greek yogurt made a great substitute, and I’ve used it ever since.

Coleslaw 3

Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

8 Servings

The jalapeño in this recipe does not make this salad fiery hot, rather it adds a nice spiciness. Feel free to adjust up if you like a little more heat, or even leave it out. The salad can be made 1 day ahead.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeños

1/2 pound cabbage, cored and sliced (approx. 8 cups)

1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (approx. 2 cups)

3 green onions, sliced

Whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the chiles, then add the cabbage and pineapple and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Right before serving, stir in the green onions and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Adapted from The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook by Park and Norma Kerr 

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Tomato Salad 1

This post is a continuation of foods inspired by my trip to Asheville, NC, for the Food Blog Forum conference. The second day of the conference was hosted by Explore Asheville Foodtopia. The day began with a visit to a local brewery, the Highland Brewing Company.

Highland

I had no idea that Asheville is home to more artisan breweries than any other place in the U.S. We were given the opportunity to tour the actual brewery and watch the beer making and bottling activities in action.  The tour was nice, but what really floored me was the reception that was waiting for us when we arrived. Many of the local restaurants and food purveyors had stations set up with samples of their specialties matched with various Highland Brews. Ribs and beer for breakfast? It was tough, but somehow I managed.

Ribs

There were representatives from the local honey purveyors, ice cream makers, and even a professional forager, who had brought a sample of the most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen.

Mushrooms

The Foodtopia group also gave us a very nice bag full of some of the local goodies, to include a bottle of Smokin J’s barbecue sauce.

BBQ Sauce

Early this past summer, I decided I needed to improve my grilling skills. Actually, I decided to become a “grill goddess,” and purchased a couple of grilling cookbooks to assist me, including a copy of Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader. I really like this book because it goes well beyond the throw-a-steak-on-the-grill version of outdoor cooking. I spotted this salad recipe early on, and decided it would make a great side with grilled meats. The barbecue vinaigrette reminds me of french dressing, only better. It’s great on a simple green salad as well. If you live in a climate warm enough to still be enjoying some early fall tomatoes, and you’re crazy like us and grill outside year ‘round, this salad is for you. Even if you live somewhere that you have already experienced your first snowfall, there is always next year.

Salad 2

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Serves 6-8

I used Penzey’s Barbecue spice for the salad dressing. If you don’t have access to Penzey’s feel free to substitute your favorite barbecue rub combined with a pinch of sugar. This salad is great with a mixture of different heirloom tomatoes of different colors, but use whatever you can find. If you prefer to use only one type of onion, all red, for example, that’s okay too. To chiffonade basil, tightly roll the leaves lengthwise and slice thinly.  

1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained

1 anchovy filet

1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Penzey’s Barbecue spice or other

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

8 medium size tomatoes

1 medium red onion

1 medium white onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonade

Dressing

Prepare the vinaigrette: place the first eight ingredients (through the barbecue spice) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping the machine when the vinaigrette is smooth and completely emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the grill on high. Thickly slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving platter.

Slice the onions into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions on one side for 6 minutes, then turn them over and grill for another 5 minutes. They should be fairly tender and slightly charred. Sprinkle some of the blue cheese on each onion slice and close the lid for about a minute to melt the cheese.

Onions

Carefully remove the onions from the grill and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Cut the onions into quarters and arrange on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve the remainder on the side. Top the salad with the basil and serve.

Adapted from Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader

Celebrating the Last of Summer – Grilled Burgers with Avocado and Parsnip Fries

Burger Closeup 1

I love fall – going outside that first crisp morning when the temperature is in the 50s in complete contrast to the 80s and 90s we’ve previously experienced in the DC area. This year has been different, however. We’ve had such a mild summer that now that the temperature has dropped, I find myself almost thinking I can’t appreciate it, because it just hasn’t been that hot. Wow, Jeannine. The one summer on record with decent temperatures and you think it needs to be hotter. Let’s throw in some heavy-duty humidity while we’re at it, shall we? So, I guess what I’m getting at is that, on this last day of summer, I’m not ready to throw in the towel on summer yet. There will be plenty of time for braises, pumpkin, soups and all those foods that signify fall later down the road.

One of the stops on the Explore Asheville Foodtopia tour during the recent Food Blogger Forum was a visit to Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

Farm 1We were treated to a sample of their delicious grass-fed beef before touring a section of the farm, led by Jamie Ager, one of the co-owners of the farm.

Farm 3

These hamburgers were inspired by the visit to the farm. I think you’ll agree when you taste these is that there is just no substitute for grass-fed beef – it just tastes, well, beefier. And you can’t argue with the health benefits of eating meat that provides essential Omega 3 fatty acids.

Farm 4

I’ve been following Juli Bauer of PaleOMG ever since my husband and I first started experimenting with the Paleo/Primal lifestyle 3 years ago. Although neither of us is completely Paleo, I still follow Juli’s blog and find it a great source of healthy recipes, no matter what eating program you follow. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how she has grown as a cook over the past few years. This burger recipe is a perfect example. They are incredibly juicy and have a really nice flavor without being too over-the-top. The burgers are served wrapped in a bibb or romaine lettuce leaf, as I’ve pictured here. However, if you must have a bun for your burger, I recommend having the parsnip shoestrings on the side rather than on the burger.

Burger 5

Hamburgers on the Grill with Avocado and Parsnip Shoestrings

Serves 6

 Instead of mashing the avocados for the garnish, you can also use 1 cup of your favorite guacamole. I really like the fresh guacamole from the local Whole Foods.

2 large parsnips, peeled

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup coconut oil

6 romaine or bibb lettuce leaves

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 avocados, peeled seeded and mashed

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Cut the parsnips into long shoestrings with a julienne peeler or spiral slicer. Set aside.

Combine the ground beef, onion, mustard, garlic and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Divide the meat mixture into 6 patties, making a small indentation in the center of each one.   Grill the burgers to desired level of doneness. We found that 6 minutes covered on the first side and three minutes covered on the second side resulted in a medium-rare burger, but your grill might be different. Do what works for you.

While the burgers are cooking heat the coconut oil in a saucepan until one of the shoestrings sizzles when dropped into the oil. Fry the shoestrings tossing with a fork until golden brown. Remove them from the oil and place on a paper-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt while hot.

When the burgers are done, allow them to rest for 5-7 minutes. Place the burgers on a lettuce leaf, top with red onion, avocado or guacamole and parsnip fries.

Adapted from PaleOMG.    I think this recipe is also included in Juli’s latest book, The Paleo Kitchen.

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

Tomato Soup 4

Some people may question the sanity of posting a soup recipe in the “dog days” of summer, especially those in places where the temperature normally exceeds 90 degrees. We’ve been fairly lucky this year in terms of having a hot summer. The Washington, DC, area can usually be compared to a steam bath around this time, but this year has been different, and, I must say, there will be no complaints from me. I love fall and it’s usually this time of year that I start thinking about that first morning I walk outside to discover a telling crispness in the air.

Tomato Soup 2

Meanwhile, we still have a couple of summer months left and lots of summer produce to use up – tomatoes anyone? Tomato soup is one of my favorite foods, and if you pair the soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a total win, win. How do you like your grilled cheese sandwiches? I prefer a fairly dense country style bread because it can hold more cheese that way. I spread the bread with a combination of mayonnaise and strong mustard and then add the cheese, usually whatever I have on hand. Lately it’s been cheddar slices, but any kind will do. I also add some ham, if I have some and maybe some thinly sliced pickles. Butter up the outside of the bread and fry it until crispy. Yum, yum!

Tomato Soup 3

In this soup recipe, you roast all the vegetables before making the soup, which adds a wonderful smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid to get some char on the vegetables; it adds to the depth of flavor.

Tomato Soup 1

 Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

I kept this soup on the rustic side, by just giving it a spin in my Vitamix. But if you prefer a smoother creamier soup, you can put it through a fine strainer before adding the cream.

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, approximately 1 pound

1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and place cut-side up on half of a sheet pan or baking sheet. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise then in half again and remove the core. Add the fennel and the onion pieces to the other half of the sheet pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and carmelized. Remove pan from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables and the broth in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to do this with half the vegetables and half the broth at a time.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then lower heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Hint: Now is the time to prepare your grilled cheese sandwich if you are making one. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cream, if using it.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.

Adapted from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pound Cake 1

“And now for something completely different.” Unlike many of my previous recipes and probably many more to follow, this cake is not gluten-free nor is it Paleo or Primal. It’s a lovely treat we enjoyed on a holiday weekend. If your diet allows it, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Pound Cake 2

Why pound cake? Quite honestly, I’ve never been a real fan. “Pound cake” conjures up thoughts of some icky sweet cake-like substance you buy at the gas station. That pound cake comes in a crinkly plastic wrapper with an ingredient list you can’t pronounce.

Pound Cake 3

So, when I found myself with some leftover buttermilk from making Ranch dressing I decided to do some baking. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t require hours in the kitchen, and I wasn’t really in the mood for making biscuits.

Pound Cake 4

I came across this recipe and decided to give it a go. I’ve had really good luck with Alton Brown’s baking recipes. I never really cared for his show, Good Eats, but then I’m like that. I tend to like the material that comes in print, but then find it doesn’t translate to my taste in television. Okay, I guess I’m weird that way. Anyway, this recipe is from one of Alton’s first cookbooks, I’m Just Here for More Food. It was the book that I turned to for a refresher course in baking when I was hired as a baker for a catering company and needed to become a maestro baker overnight. A quick perusal of each chapter’s techniques was enough for me to get through my first day of baking what seemed like hundreds of wedding cakes and keep me employed.

Pound Cake 5

My husband absolutely loves this cake. The first slice disappeared in seconds. I think he had told me in the past that he loved pound cake, but I had no idea how much.

Pound Cake 6

I like this cake too. The buttermilk really gives it a nice depth of flavor that’s not too cloying. It has infinite possibilities. I’m imagining it as a base for any kind of summer fruit with piles of whipped cream on top, or maybe with a pile of blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. We tried it toasted with jam this morning. It was nice, but I believe the best way to eat this cake is just plain, with a cup of tea.

Pound Cake 7

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Pound Cake 8

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Yield: One large cake

I greased the pan with shortening and floured it. That’s a little difficult to do with a tube pan, so I recommend using Baker’s Joy spray. I ended up baking this pound cake at 325 convection bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I started testing it at 1 hour, at which time it was still pretty jiggly. If you don’t use convection bake, it might only take an hour.

Baker’s Joy spray or shortening and flour for preparing pan

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325. Prepare a 12-cup tube or Bundt pan with Baker’s Joy spray or by greasing and flouring.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt by whisking in a bowl.

Place the eggs and the vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat at medium speed with a paddle attachment for one minute to spread fat in bowl. Add the sugar and cream with the butter, scraping down with a spatula as necessary, until the mixture is lightened and fluffy.

Reduce the speed on the mixture and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down between each addition. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three installments, beginning with dry ingredients and ending with buttermilk.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean.

Allow the cake to stand in the pan for 15 minutes then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

This cake will keep tightly wrapped at room temperature for 1 week.

Adapted from I’m Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown

Pound Cake 9

 

  

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Pistou

Tom Mozz

It could have been worse. I could have broken my right arm in three places (I’m right handed), rather than the left. I could have knocked my teeth out or broken my jaw when I landed face down in the street, yet somehow I managed to keep my badly scraped up face intact. I was very lucky that my shoulder stayed in place and will not require surgery and that I should regain full use of my arm, even though it will take at least 6 months. There have been some important lessons learned during this ordeal.

Tom Mozz 2

I am one of those people who are busy, busy, busy, no matter what. When I am not trying to juggle doing several things at once, I’m preoccupied with what’s next. I never seem to be able to “stop and smell the roses” and quite honestly, I think I’m beginning to understand that is no way to live my life. A month ago when I fell while walking the dog, I was totally preoccupied with worrying about something I shouldn’t have been concerned about and wondering how I was going to be able to squeeze one more “to do” into an already packed schedule.

My accident has forced me to finally slow down. It’s a little difficult to rush through life with only one functioning arm, and it’s given me the opportunity to really think about what I want out of life. I still don’t have all the answers, but I’ve been able to narrow it down a bit. It’s time to ease back on the throttle and focus on the things I really enjoy, like this blog, and accept that other things might have to fall by the wayside.

Tom Mozz 3

Speaking of this blog, I was just dying to pick up my camera again and get back to it; hence this post. But, I had to question my sanity as I was crawling around on the dining room floor trying to get the perfect shot while using my tripod as a second arm. Maybe I should continue slowing down, i.e., resting and healing a little longer?

Slowing down while healing also meant turning over the kitchen duties to my husband, who has done a wonderful job of keeping food on the table. I’m back in the kitchen now, albeit one-handed, and the food I’m able to cook is limited, which might not be a bad thing. Simple dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves sound really good to me right now.

Tom Mozz 4

During the summer I am always more inclined to simplify my cooking anyway. There is so much great produce out there. This year we joined a CSA for the first time. The season just started, and the jury is still out – garlic scapes and kohlrabi anyone? But this week we did receive a huge bundle of basil in our weekly selection. I was originally just going to make a Caprese salad but decided to go one step further by making a Pistou to drizzle over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Provençal Pistou is very similar to its Italian cousin, Pesto, with the difference that Pistou does not contain pine nuts. I was looking for a more pure basil flavor for this sauce. Pistou is one of those sauces that have so much versatility. Try it stirred into vegetable or legume soups or over any kind of grilled meat or fish.

 Tom Mozz 5

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Pistou

4 Servings

The number of servings for this salad can vary depending on how many tomatoes and how much mozzarella you have on hand. The recipe makes enough Pistou to double the amount of servings. I used two really large heirloom tomatoes for four servings, which would also equate to two nice lunch servings.

 Pistou

1 clove garlic

2 cups packed basil leaves

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

7 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Salad

4 medium or 2 very large tomatoes

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella

Make the Pistou. Peel and halve the garlic clove length wise and remove the germ in the center of the clove. Note: This isn’t so important when you are cooking garlic, but the germ can be somewhat bitter when garlic is not cooked. Place the garlic, basil, and Parmesan in the mini-bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse to blend.

Assemble the salad. Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella. I like slices that are a little under half an inch, but not as thin as a quarter of an inch. Arrange the tomato slices on individual plates or a serving platter. Top each tomato slice with a slice of mozzarella. Drizzle with the Pistou and serve.