Homestyle Chunky Tomato Sauce

Makes 1½ cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large sweet onion or 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups diced, OR substitute 1-28oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup fresh oregano, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 6) – optional

½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced tomatoes and increase heat to high-medium to bring to a low boil. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until most of the water cooks off. Watch closely, reducing heat if necessary and stirring often. Add sun-dried tomatoes (if using) into a food processor along with a ladle of the tomato sauce. Process until mostly smooth. Stir this mixture back into the tomato sauce in the pot. Stir in the minced basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and optional red pepper flakes to taste. Continue cooking until thickened to your liking and then remove from heat. Serve sauce over a bed of cooked pasta noodles, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles or diced butternut squash.


Butter Lettuce with Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas and Radishes and Honey Herb Vinaigrette

The sweet crunch of sugar snap peas and tender English peas and peppery radish slices are brought to light with a delicately sweet vinaigrette. Chill and pat the peas dry before adding them to the salad- it gives the best flavor and texture.

1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

8oz fresh English peas, or 1 C frozen peas, thawed

8oz sugar snap peas, strings removed

6 medium radishes, thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

For garnish – 2 T coarsely chopped dill, tarragon, basil, chives and/or parsley

(Optional- 2oz. crumbled feta or ricotta salata, shaved with a vegetable peeler)

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 C fresh herbs- dill, tarragon, basil, chives or parsley (can substitute with 1 T dried), finely chopped

1 T white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ t lemon zest

1 t honey

1 t Dijon mustard

¼ – ½ C extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette: Put all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil, in a small jar and shake to combine. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and shake well. Taste and adjust for salt and more olive oil, if desired. (If you have a mini food processor, use that and process until emulsified). Set aside.

For the salad: If using fresh peas, sample them. If they are young, sweet, and tender, keep them raw. If they are older and a bit tough, blanch them in small pot of boiling water until they are tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the sugar snap peas and blanch until crisp-tender, one to 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Combine the lettuce, scallions and radishes in a salad bowl, and toss to combine, taking care to separate the radish slices. Pat dry the English peas and sugar snap peas with a clean dish towel if they are very wet, and add them. Dress lightly and toss the salad gently (you may not need all the dressing); garnish with your roughly chopped herbs of choice. Serves 4.


Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nut Salad

4 C loosely packed spring mix with baby spinach (50/50 blend)

½ C bottled roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped

1 ½ T toasted pine nuts

1 T crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T red wine vinegar

2 t fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 t dried oregano)

1/8 t sea salt

1/8 t ground red or black pepper

Combine the dressing ingredients in a salad bowl and whisk well. Add the spring mix, roasted bell peppers and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle salad with pine nuts and feta. Serves 2-4.


Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup (for a Chilly Night)

1 C sweet onion, chopped (about one medium)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

3 T butter

3 (14oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes –  OR 2 ½ lbs. ripe tomatoes (about three very large) core removed and diced large

1 t agave nectar or maple syrup

1 t sea salt

1½ C chicken broth, preferably homemade

½ C dry white wine

½ C heavy cream

½ C fresh basil leaves, chopped – optional

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until onion becomes translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Increase the heat, add the tomatoes, agave nectar and salt and cook, stirring constantly for about a minute, until the tomatoes begin to bubble. Add the chicken broth and wine (the alcohol from the wine will evaporate during cooking), bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the stockpot partially with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender (in batches) with the top vented, or in a food processor. Return the soup to the pot and add the cream, heat through. Serve garnished with chopped basil. Serves 6.


Rosemary Lavender Lemon Shortbread

This buttery shortbread comes together quickly in a food processor and can be customized to suit your taste and pantry: nuts, seeds, minced dried fruit, or any combination of them, make delicious additions. You can also scale the recipe up or down, as long as you maintain the butter to flour ration (one stick to one cup of flour).

½ C granulated sugar (preferably evaporated cane sugar, natural)

1 T rosemary leaves

½ t lavender buds

2 C all-purpose flour

1 C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 t lemon zest

1 t honey (preferably dark, full flavored) – optional

Raw (Turbinado) sugar, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 325°F. In a food processor, process together the sugar, rosemary and lavender until the rosemary and lavender are finely chopped, about one minute. Add the flour and salt, and pulse to combine. Add butter, and honey if desired, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don’t over-process. Dough should not be smooth.

Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan with parchment paper. Press dough evenly into the pan. Prick dough all over with a fork and sprinkle lightly with Turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm and let cool completely before removing from pan.