Tag Archives: tomatoes

Easy Weeknight Salsa

I LOVE fresh salsa. LOVE IT. One of my favorite salsa recipes is from the Mexican food guru, Rick Bayless. The recipe has you roast the some of the ingredients in the oven and then puree it all together. It’s WONDERFUL, but it’s a little time consuming. (Side note: I can point you to that particular recipe if you’d like it – just comment or email me!)

Anyway, a few nights ago, I needed fresh salsa something terrible but there was no way in heck that my wiry toddler and starving husband were going to afford me the time to chop and roast. Enter “Easy Weeknight Salsa”. Three minutes of chopping, 15 minutes in the fridge, and you’re off enjoying chips and salsa without a lot of hassle! This is really a basic Pico de Gallo – you’ll find this recipe in many home cooks’ repertoire, I’m sure, but it was too good and easy not to share!  Here’s how you do it:

Easy Weeknight Salsa

2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand 15-30 minutes so the flavors meld together. I like my salsa chilled, so I put it in the fridge to let it sit.

(Note: The salsa may get a little wet if you have any left over, but you can use a slotted spoon to get it out if you like! It’s still just as tasty!)

Meatless Monday – Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo

I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding this last weekend. I haven’t seen him in close to 20 years, so it was such a delight to get to reconnect with him and meet his new wife. I love going to weddings because here is so much to see and do…. the buffet, the music, and the CAKE (yum). Most wedding buffets are the same food (chicken, rice, green beans, right?!) but this wedding had some awesome food. They had a pasta station with handmade breadsticks, lots of olives and cheese, and fresh, made to order pasta. The other station was a Mexican station and it was calling my name! There were fajitas, a cold grilled vegetable platter, and roasted fingerling potatoes. One of the other things that I picked up was a plump green pepper stuffed to the gills with a beef mixture. Upon closer investigation, I found that it was picadillo.

Picadillo is a traditional Latin American meat dish and there are as many versions as there are fish in the sea. Some have potatoes, some have raisins, and some have bay leaves (yuck!), while others have capers.  Our cooking club made a version of it a few years back and we stuffed it into empanadas. They were, hands down, one of my favorite things we’ve made of all times.

So here we are, back at Meatless Monday, and I couldn’t get that picadillo out of my brain. My girlfriend, Paige, has been coaxing me to try meatless crumbles and I finally crumbled (sorry, but I couldn’t resist). I bought Morningstar Farms to create this recipe. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the flavor, texture, and ease that these provided. My husband asked “is this the beef we just got from the farmer?”. My response: “Good, isn’t it?” *insert winning smile here* I encourage you to give this meal a try, even if the crumbles might be a little bit outside your comfort zone.

Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo

If you prefer a meaty version, you can use 1 lb of lean ground beef. This dish has a medium heat level (my 2 year old ate it without protest!), but if the spice is not your thing, go for 1 jalapeno instead of the two suggested.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (1 to 1.5 cups each)

1 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 green pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces frozen (meatless) soy crumbles – such as Morningstar farms
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup green olives, quartered
1 Tbsp liquid from olive jar
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)

1) Heat water in microwave safe dish until boiling (2-3 minutes). Remove dish from microwave and place raisins in boiled water. Allow to soften in water for 15-20 minutes. Drain, reserving plumped raisins.

2) Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and jalapenos. Saute until soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes). Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add frozen soy crumbles, stirring frequently until thawed and well combined (about 2 minutes).

4) Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, green olives, olive liquid, drained raisins, cumin, brown sugar, and salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through and the flavors have had a chance to meld. Serve over rice or as a filling in stuffed pepper, casserole, or empanadas.

(58) Potato and Sun-Dried Tomato au Gratin

I must say that I love a good potato gratin!! If you make this (or any gratin, really), make sure not to slice the potatoes too thin because they will crumble if you do! The key is to boil until firm but not flimsy, so you have to watch them! This dish needed a touch more salt out of the oven, but otherwise it was perfect! A great accompaniment to roasted chicken!


Potato and Sun-Dried Tomato au Gratin

This can be assembled and refrigerated up to 24 hours ahead of time. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature and bake as directed. You can substitute any sharp Italian cheese (such as Romano, provolone, or Asiago) for the Parmesan.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
Source: Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2000

1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (about 2 ounces)
3 pounds peeled baking potato, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups fat-free milk
2 cups (8 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Combine water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and coarsely chop; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place the potato in a large saucepan, and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Arrange potato in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook 2 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sprinkle tomato mixture with flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Pour the sauce over the potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

CALORIES 279 (25% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 4.6g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.4g); IRON 1.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 19mg; CALCIUM 353mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38g; SODIUM 558mg; PROTEIN 13.7g; FIBER 2.9g

(56) Gratin Au Chou

One of my favorite memories from elementary school was taking French classes. We went to a private school and we did French every week. It was mostly puppets and flash cards and LOTS of singing. One of the songs we sang was “Savez-vous planter les chous?” (that means “Do you know how to plant the cabbages?”) and was meant to help you learn body parts. The French also refer to chou as sweetheart (Ma petite chou literally means “my little cabbage”, but figuratively means “my sweetie”). All that to say, I love chou – it has a special place in my heart!! I love cabbage, but chou is even better 🙂

I was trying to come up with what to do with my cabbages from the CSA box and since I can’t really chew much right now, this was the perfect fit! The original recipe kind of stunk and I ended up having to really improvise as I went along, but I wrote it all down and will hopefully not lead you astray!! The flavor of the sauce is what really wins this dish. Mixing it all up after it goes on your plate = HEAVEN! Oh and the original recipe said serves 6, but I can only assume that’s as a main dish. I say 8-10 as a side. Great with roasted chicken!



Gratin Au Chou

Yield: 8-10 servings (as a side)
Source: Adapted from an online recipe

1 medium Savoy cabbage (or a small Savoy and a small green cabbage is what I did…)
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 pound very ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used skim, but use whatever pleases you!)
1/2 pound grated cheese (Gruyère or Swiss)
salt and pepper

Cut the cabbage in quarters, wash well, and cut out the hard inner core. Chop the leaves and cook the cabbage for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. You want it to be soft but not dead. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes. Add the rice and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender, adding up to 1 cup more water as needed. You want your rice to be soft but not soupy…

Meanwhile make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Cook the roux for two minutes and than slowly whisk in milk. Heat on medium heat until nearly boiling and thickened, then gradually add half of the cheese while stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper (I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper). Oh and if you’re like me and can’t read directions properly and you just added ALL of the cheese, no worries. It will still be yummy!

To construct casserole, butter a large baking dish. Beginning with the cabbage, layer the cabbage and the rice mixture. Aim to get three even layers of each. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Serve the cabbage casserole hot.

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(55) Hearty Beef and Tomato Stew

Brace face strikes again! I thought this would be soft enough, but I underestimated the joy of new braces! Soooooooooo, I didnt really eat this, which makes me sad! But my husband and daughter both sucked it down, so I’d say it was a hit. Not hard to make, just a little time consuming to get everything chopped. I’d make this again! (And sorry, no picture on this one…)


Hearty Beef and Tomato Stew

Source: Cooking Light, October 2006
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups stew and 1 tablespoon parsley)

The ingredient list may look lengthy, but this recipe involves mostly measuring and adding ingredients to the pot to simmer. To trim prep time, look for prechopped onions in the produce aisle. Serve with crusty slices of a baguette. A double-dose of lycopene comes with tomato paste and canned tomatoes.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
4 cups cubed red potato (1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups sliced carrot
3/4 cup pinot noir or other spicy dry red wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 (16-ounce) package frozen pearl onions
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove beef from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings in pan. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth; bring to a boil. Return meat to pan. Add potato and next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 1 hour and 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Discard rosemary and bay leaf. Stir in salt and pepper. Top with parsley.

CALORIES 329 (21% from fat); FAT 7.5g (sat 2.6g,mono 3.3g,poly 0.4g); IRON 4.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 51mg; CALCIUM 93mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.3g; SODIUM 630mg; PROTEIN 31.1g; FIBER 4.1g

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