Canning Tomatoes

To peel the tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash tomatoes and cut a small ‘x’ on the top or bottom of each tomato. Gently place tomatoes in the boiling water, not enough to over crowd. Cook for about 1 min. or until the skin just starts to peel. Remove to a bowl to catch the tomato water. Cool. The tomato water in the bottom of the bowl will gel. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slide off skins and discard. Chop tomatoes and add gelled tomato.

Fill jars with tomatoes to about ½-inch head space. Wipe the rims and place the lids on and rims to finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath covering with at least 1″ of water for 40 min. Remove from heat. If you prefer, you can leave the jars in the water to cool down before removing jars. Remove jars to a towel-lined counter. The jars will begin pinging as the lids seal, typically within 15 mins. After they are cool, check all the lids to make sure there is none with a slight bump on it. If so, refrigerate the jar until use. Or you can replace the lid and ring, making sure that the rim of the jar is impeccably clean, and re-process the jar with your next batch.


Baby Eggplant with Sweet Onion, Tomato and Mint (Imam Bayildi)

4 small eggplants

¼ C olive oil plus 2 T, divided

1 large sweet onion, sliced very thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ lb. (3 medium-large) tomatoes, peeled and chopped

½ t cumin

¼ t cinnamon

1 t sugar

½ C fresh mint, chopped

Make a slit, lengthwise, down the middle of each eggplant, being careful not to cut through the skin and without opening the ends. Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold the eggplants, and add ½ cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplants and sauté quickly on all sides, until the skins are nicely browned and the oil is completely absorbed. Depending on the size of your eggplant, you may need to add a little more oil. Transfer the eggplants to a colander and place them cut side down. Allow to cool and drain for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt, cover with a lid and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon and sugar. Continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the tomatoes are reduced and the mixture becomes a thick sauce, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped mint.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange the eggplants cut side up in a baking dish. Open the slits and stuff each eggplant with the onion-tomato mixture. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the dish slightly caramelized. Allow to cool in the baking dish and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The finished dish can sit several hours. Serve 4-8.


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.

 


Heirloom Tomatoes and Bacon Pasta Salad

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Herb Vinaigrette (see below)

12 ounces uncooked pasta such as orriachette

2 T olive oil, divided

4 ounces bacon

1½ pounds heirloom tomatoes, chopped

4 C loosely packed arugula

8 oz cheese, such as fontina or smoked gouda

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

3 T chopped fresh parsley

½ T red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Make Herb Vinaigrette (see instructions below).

 

Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente. Toss together pasta and olive oil in a large bowl. Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle. Crumble and reserve. Add tomatoes, next 5 ingredients, and 6 T vinaigrette to pasta; toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste; top with bacon. Just before serving, stir in remaining vinaigrette.

 

 

Herb Vinaigrette

 

Makes about 3/4 cup

 

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T fresh lemon juice

4 small garlic cloves

½ C olive or grapeseed oil

12 fresh basil leaves

½ C fresh parsley leaves

½ C grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Process vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic cloves in a food processor until smooth. With processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until blended. Add basil leaves and parsley leaves, and process until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese; pulse to combine. Stir in kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.

 


Provençal Leeks

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We learned this recipe quite literally at our mother’s apron strings. As children, we spent summers on the beach of a coastal small village on the Cote d’Azur. Our mother occasionally brought in Madame Victoria, an elderly woman from Provence who then lived in St. Maxime, where she cooked and cleaned.  She taught our mom a lot about the cuisine of the region, leeks Povençal being a classic favorite. Mom made it every spring when leeks were abundant in the marchés near the village outside Paris where we lived. Danielle made this for our alluim ,month, May 2016.

3 medium-sized leeks, trimmed and washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tomatoes, or 1 (15-oz) can, cut into eighths
¼ C pitted black Kalamata or green olives
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t Herbes de Provence
¼ C white wine
¼ C olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Trim and clean the leeks: remove one outer layer of the leek and remove the dark green top. Slit the leek vertically and rinse under running water to remove and sand or dirt. Cut the leeks into 2-inch pieces, removing any additional dark or touch pieces. You want to be left with the white and light green parts only. Put the trimmed, washed and cut leeks into an ovenproof baking pan.

In a separate bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, lemon juice and zest, garlic and Herbes de Provence. Spread mixture over the leeks, mixing gently. Add the white wine and olive oil. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes until leeks are very tender. Serve warm or chilled on a hot summer day. Serves 4-6.