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.


Fattoush Salad

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2 rounds pita bread (8- to 12-inches)

2-3 T olive oil

½ t sumac

Salt and pepper

 

Salad

2 C shredded romaine lettuce

1 large or 2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded, diced small

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

5-6 radishes, sliced

½ C parsley leaves, chopped

¼ C mint leaves, chopped

5-6 scallions, chopped

 

Dressing

½ C lemon juice

½ C olive oil

1 t sumac

1/8 t cinnamon (optional)

Sea salt to taste

 

 

Toast the pita bread in your toaster oven until dried and crisp but not browned. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Break the pita into pieces and put into the heated oil. Fry briefly until browned, tossing frequently. Remove from the oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sumac.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salad ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss lightly. Lastly, add the pita chips and toss one more time. Serves 4-6.

 


Succotash

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Danielle spent a recent Saturday at the U.S. Botanic Garden teaching visitors about succotash and handing out samples and recipes. A Native American food, succotash finds it’s way on to many Thanksgiving tables and was a staple for families during the Depression. Traditional succotash will often include tomatoes, sweet peppers and bacon. The name originated in Narragansett, and translates from the Algonquin Indian language meaning “broken corn kernels.” Butter beans, or lima beans as they are often referenced, are grown throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolinas and harvested in August and September. Corn is cultivated copiously all across the United States, yet Americans are among the few cultures who eat sweet corn on the cob, which also originated with Native American tribes.

 

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)

1 cup fresh butter beans (or lima)

½  medium-size sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill (or 1 teaspoon dried) – optional

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. In a medium-sized pot, cover the butter beans with water and bring to a low boil. Cook until beans are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. While beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook until it becomes fragrant and a bit soft, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir well, then add the butter beans. Cook another few minutes until corn is tender and then add the cream. Reduce heat to very low and let the cream soak up into the mixture, add the dill. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 2.

 

 

 

 


Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 


Mediterranean Summer Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Figs and Kasseri

Combining thyme and mint in one dish is common throughout Greece and Turkey. Look for the best summer tomatoes you can find, it will make the salad shine. Pomegranate molasses is found in most supermarkets or any middle eastern grocery store.

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1½ lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch dice (2-3 large)

½ pint (about 8) figs, quartered

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped

¼ C red onion, finely chopped

6 C baby arugula or mixed seasonal greens

1½ C crumbled Kasseri cheese (or Feta)

 

Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 t pomegranate molasses (or good quality balsamic vinegar and 1 T honey)

¼ C olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large serving bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients except the cheese. Whisk together the dressing and pour it over the salad. Toss well. Add the cheese and toss lightly. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

 

Note: make it a main course by adding chunks of cooked chicken.