Tomatoes are plentiful now and while it is tempting to eat them as is out of the garden sometimes you want a little more. And at the end of a hot day who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen fussing over dinner? (or any meal for that matter). So why not try this easy tomato and ricotta tart? With only a few ingredients, this tart is easy and as a added bonus, you can pre-bake the shell earlier in the day then put the dish together right before serving.
Choose the best tomatoes you can find, either a single type or go for a variety, since they really are the highlight of this dish. I’ve become a huge fan of making my own ricotta cheese but you can also use whichever brand you prefer. And for the crust? Either make your own or use a pre-made one. I like to make it even easier and make a free form crust rather than fussing with a tart plate. However you make it, this is a delicious and easy dish. Enjoy!
TOMATO & RICOTTA TART
1 single pie crust
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, either purchased or homemade
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
For the crust:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and transfer to an un-greased baking sheet.
- Using your fingers crimp the edges of the crust to form an outer ridge. You don’t have be to exact but try to keep the crust in a circle formation. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until it is light brown on all sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the filling:
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, basil and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
- Using a small spatula spread the cheese mixture over the top of the prepared tart shell.
- Arrange the tomatoes over the top of the cheese.
- Return the tart to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes and cheese are warm.
- Serve immediately.
I was a fan of ratatouille long before the Pixar movie about the French culinary inclined rat made this classic vegetable dish a common household word. Bursting with fresh vegetables ratatouille is hearty enough to be served on its own as a stew yet tastes equally good when served alongside grilled meat. Ratatouille is the perfect way to use your fresh vegetables when your garden or farm share is out of control (I’m looking at you zucchini) but I also find it incredibly comforting during cold winter months. This recipes comes from Epicurious but I think of it more as a method than an exact formula. If I have plenty of eggplant or zucchini on hand I will use more of that; sometimes I will use a single variety of bell pepper while other times I will add a rainbow of them. It all depends upon what I have on hand and what looks good. Regardless of what formula or combination you use, you just can’t go wrong. And as tasty as this dish is when it is first cooked, it tastes even better when reheat the next day.
2 1/2 lb tomatoes
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
4 assorted bell peppers,cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Set a large pot filled with water over high heat.
- Cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and when your water boils, blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute.
- Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel off skin, beginning from scored end, with paring knife.
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes and transfer to a 5-quart heavy pot along with the garlic, parsley, basil and 1/3 cup oil.
- Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, toss the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the onions with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the bell peppers with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the peppers with a slotted spoon to bowl with onions.
- Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Transfer the zucchini with a slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.
- While zucchini are cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil to the skillet and cook the eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to12 minutes.
- Add the vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour.
- Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Nothing is more comforting than a warm bowl of soup on a cold evening and this satisfying soup from willcookforsmiles.com has become a favorite in my family. It is rich, tasty and just oh so good. Plus it is easy and allows me to use my all time favorite kitchen appliance–the stick blender!
You can buy red peppers already roasted in most grocery stores but I think they taste better when you roast them yourself. The process is quite easy and produces better results. Sometimes, however, it can be tricky to remove the skins. My solution is to seal the hot peppers in a plastic bag for a few minutes once they come out of the oven. The steam will help further loosen the skins and once you open the bag they will pop right off. Be sure to use fresh tortellini for the soup; cheese filled ones are good but I also like to use spinach on occasion. And the parmesan cheese? Also delicious but for an added kick try Asagio. Yum!
4 large red bell peppers
6 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 large carrot
3 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
3/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (more for topping)
12 ounces fresh three cheese tortellini
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Cut the peppers in half and remove their core and seeds.
- Place the peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Leave the skins on the garlic cloves but cut off just their tips. Wrap the cloves in aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet along side the peppers.
- Bake the peppers and garlic for 20 minutes and then flip peppers over and continue roasting for an additional 10 minutes.
- At this point remove the garlic packet from the oven but allow the peppers roast for additional 10-15 minutes.
- Dice the onion and carrot and set aside. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and chop them then set aside. Skin the roasted garlic, set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot set over medium heat.
- Add the onion onion and carrot to the pot and saute for a 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add chopped roasted peppers and roasted garlic to the pot and saute for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat back to medium.
- Stir in the thyme, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.
- Blend soup well, using an immersion blender, until all smooth.
- Add the heavy cream and grated Parmesan cheese and stir until all incorporated.
- Add tortellini and make sure it’s completely covered in soup. Cover pot with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, until tortellini is done.
- Divide the soup amongst four warmed bowls and top with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
This is the season of rich and comforting foods. I’m not complaining but sometimes I find myself craving something lighter and healthier and when that happens, this is the perfect dish. Adapted from Cooking Light, this curry proves that just because something is lighter doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on the flavor. Here rich tasting coconut milk blends with green curry, fresh ginger and garlic to create a sauce that is packed with zing. Tofu is my protein of choice with this dish but you can also use shrimp (as was called for in the original recipe), chicken or pork. I love to serve the curry atop a bed of rice noodles jasmine rice is good too. Regardless of which options you choose, this curry comes together quickly making it the perfect end of the week dinner.
THAI GREEN CURRY w/ TOFU & KALE
6 ounces dried rice noodles
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 1/4 cups matchstick-cut carrots
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
6 cups packed chopped kale
1 pound firm tofu, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- Prepare the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok set over medium-high heat.
- Add green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté 1 minute.
- Stir in curry paste; sauté 30 seconds then add the carrots, chicken broth, and coconut milk, stirring well to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
- Fold in kale the sprinkle the entire mixture with the salt. Cook 3 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender.
- Add the tofu and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tofu is heated through.
- Remove from heat; top with cilantro, lime rind, and juice.
- Serve over rice noodles.
Nothing satisfies on a cold day more than soup. Most weekends I will make a big pot of whatever strikes my fancy. I allow it to simmer on low all afternoon then we enjoy it with crusty bread for a Sunday night dinner. There are always leftovers which is perfect since soup tastes better the next day. I have yet to find a soup that I didn’t like but this minestrone is a soup that I absolutely love.
It is more of a method rather than an exact recipe; I will use whatever vegetables I have on hand or whatever looked good at the market that morning. I like to be heavy handed with the vegetables and go lighter on the pasta and beans but you could easily add more of the later if that is to your liking. Not only is this soup vegetarian but it is also low in sodium. Rather than using a pre-made broth, I simply add water as the soup base and allow the cooking vegetables to flavor the broth. The results? A rich, tasty and satisfying soup that everyone will love. Serve it with crusty French bread and dinner is served.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 leek, quartered and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 cup Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 26-ounce can tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup small pasta (shells or elbow macaroni works well)
1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot set over medium high heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add the onion, leek, celery and carrots and stirring occasionally, cook until soft but not brown, 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the zucchini, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, beans and canned tomatoes. Stir well.
- Add enough water to the pot to cover the vegetables by 1 inch.
- Bring the soup to a simmer then reduce the heat and cook uncovered until the vegetables are soft, 35-45 minutes.
- Add in the oregano and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- At this point you can proceed to the next step or cover the pot, turn the temperature to the lowest setting and allow to sit until you are ready to proceed.
- Return the temperature to medium-high.
- Once the soup is boiling again, add the pasta, stir well and cook until the pasta is al dente, approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in the basil, adjust the seasonings and serve, topped with grated parmesan cheese.
Grain salads are a great alternative to your traditional pasta or potato salad. I may be a bit late to the game but recently I’ve been experimenting with both bulgar and quinoa, two quick cooking grains that are nutty and bring an interesting twist to the table. Since I love them both I decided to combine them for this salad that is adapted from Cuisine At Home magazine. The grapes add a bit of sweetness to the salad while the watercress contributes a touch of bitterness. This salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It can be served either cold or at room temperature but I prefer eating it at room temperature, making it the perfect addition to a summer picnic table.
GRAPE & WATERCRESS GRAIN SALAD
1 1/3 cups apple juice, divided
1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgar
1/2 cup quinoa
Pinch of salt
1 cup watercress
1 cup green grapes, halved
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
- Combine1 cup of the apple juice, water, bulgar, quinoa and salt in a medium saucepan.
- Set over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, about 14-16 minutes.
- Move the grain mixture to a large bowl and add the watercress and grapes. Mix well to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup of apple juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, and salt.
- Pour over the grain mixture and gently stir until well combined.
- The salad can be served either cold or at room temperature.