Tomatillo Salsa

Here is another one of Randal Smathers’ ingenious VerMex menu items. Why do I say ingenious? Because when I was tying up and pruning my tomato plants the other week, a long overdue task at this point in the season, I knocked off a ton of unripe, green tomatoes in the process. Although this is a tomatillo recipe, like Randal suggests, I think the green tomatoes work just as well. I have never found a good use for green tomatoes  – more so at the end of the summer when the plants have seen the last of their days, and thanks to New England’s short tomato season, are left with fruit that never had enough time to ripen. But by growing tomatillos in a non-native region like Vermont, or utilizing the green tomatoes that some people might simply discard, I think  this salsa is the perfect combo of Vermont’s resourcefulness and Mexico’s flavors.

Tomatillo salsa

With the green tomatoes I found it necessary to greatly increase the honey to bring out their great, though not fully developed, flavor.

  • 1 pound tomatillos or green tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 poblano and/or Anaheim peppers or 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 tbsp. sugar or honey
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  • Oil
  • Bottled hot sauce (optional)
  • Optional thickening agent (1/4 cup flour or masa harina, 2 tbsp. corn starch, 1 small can tomato paste).

First prepare the peppers
If using reconstituted peppers, steep them in 1 cup boiling water until soft, discard seeds and stem and set aside in the boiling liquid. If using fresh peppers, char them over a gas burner, BBQ grill or under an oven broiler. Peel, discarding the charred outer skin, seeds and stems.

Next prepare the tomatillos (If using green tomatoes, simply chop and puree)
Remove the papery husks and rinse the tomatillos. Lightly score the tops, using a sharp knife to make an X. This will help keep the tomatillos from bursting and losing their seeds in the pot. Bring 2-3 quarts lightly salted water to a rolling boil, then add the tomatillos. Cook until soft, 5-10 minutes, then drain. Puree peppers, adding boiling liquid or water to get a sauce texture. Puree tomatillos. Do not puree them with the peppers, which take much longer to process. You want to leave the tomatillo seeds intact.

Chop the onion and herbs. Crush the garlic. Sweat the onion, herbs and garlic in the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until soft and translucent. Add the pureed tomatillos and peppers, honey and salt. Simmer gently. If it is too bitter, add a little more honey to taste. A little extra cilantro at the end will brighten the color. Can be thickened or used as is as a salsa or sauce with meat or vegetables.

Salsa Al Fresco

Salsa al Fresco

Rutland foodie Randal Smathers contributed some awesome taco related recipes to us this month. Salsa al Fresco – fresh salsa – is the first from his “VerMex” menu. VerMex isn’t a popular Vermont exterminator – it’s the idea that one can create a Vermont-Mexican menu based around the great foods grown and raised right here in our state. We sure have plenty of tomatoes and that means we can certainly make some amazing salsas even though we’re more than 2,000 miles away from Mexico. And what’s a taco without a good salsa? Not much, in my opinion. I love the fresh crunch of the peppers, onions, and corn – as I made this with the variation – the brightness of the cilantro and lime, as well as the ripe, juiciness of the tomatoes.

SALSA AL FRESCO

  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • ½ onion or small bunch of green onions
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Small bunch cilantro
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt & pepper
  • Bottled hot sauce (optional)

Dice the tomato, onion and bell pepper. Slice open the jalapeno, discarding the seeds and stem. Slice into strips the size of a wooden match, then mince by cutting across the  . Finely chop cilantro. Combine chopped ingredients. Squeeze the lime juice over them. Season with the cumin, salt and pepper. Store tightly covered in the fridge. Best served the next day. If desired, add a few drops of hot sauce for the desired kick.

Corn salsa variation For the above recipe, substitute cold, grilled corn for ½ the tomatoes.

Summer Herb Salad

IMAG1005

I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite sure what happened to July, or this week, for that matter. I think I’ve had too much fun eating and cooking all of the great foods from my garden and the market lately that the days slipped by without my noticing. As I force myself to accept that it’s August, and prepare for the new theme of tacos here at Everyday Chef, check out this summer herb salad that I made last Friday for sampling at Friday Night Live. Though July is gone, you can still find the corn, beans, herbs, and lettuce tomorrow at the market. And maybe in a few years we’ll have avocados growing in Vermont as well.

SUMMER HERB SALAD

  • 2 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 1 big handful lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 big handfuls green beans, blanched for 20 seconds in boiling salted water, cooled completely under cold water
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro, loosely chopped
  • 1 small handful of small/medium basil leaves
  • 1 handful of pepitas, toasted
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium avocado

Cut each ear of corn in half and carefully cut kernels from cobs. Combine the corn, lettuce, green beans, red onion, herbs, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

Make the avocado dressing by sprinkling a big pinch of salt on the garlic clove. Chop and crush it into a paste with the back of a knife. Place the garlic in a medium bowl along with the yogurt, lemon juice, and avocado. Puree with a hand blender or put everything into a traditional blender. Taste, add salt one pinch at a time until properly seasoned. If you aren’t dressing the salad immediately, cover with plastic, pressing into the top of the dressing to prevent browning.

Gently toss the ingredients with a couple big dollops of the avocado dressing. Taste, add a bit of salt and/or more dressing if needed.

Recipe from: 101cookbooks.com

Panzanella

Tomatoes

When I was a kid, I don’t think I thought too much about my food. If I liked something, I ate it. If not, well, I would sit at the kitchen table a very long time until I found a good way to make it disappear from my plate. But maybe if I had felt more invested in what I ate I would have been more willing to expand my palate. Perhaps if I was involved in the preparation or cooking I would have cared just a little bit more. That’s what I like about Panzanella. It’s such a simple dish that even kids of a very young age can help put it together and by doing so, feel like they have some control over their dinner. Panzanella is an Italian tomato and bread salad that is nothing short of ideal for a warm summer evening – when it’s too hot to actually cook and so hot that you don’t feel like eating anything too heavy. I always seem to have a slightly stale loaf of bread hanging around, and in the next few weeks, I’m sure more tomatoes than I can possibly eat at once. This is a great way to use up both. If you have kids, be sure to get them involved in the process. I can see much of the work here being done by hand, without the use of a knife. While in the kitchen together, maybe you could have a nice conversation about tomatoes, or basil, or the importance of eating healthy, local, seasonal, or whatever food aspect you might be most passionate about.

I prepped the ingredients for this Panzanella recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, for a hands on workshop at the Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum in downtown Rutland last night. The goal was for the kids to take each item, put it in a plastic bag, shake up their salad, and eat. Simple flavors. Simple recipe.

PANZANELLA

You can easily make this a little more complex or filling. Try adding in fresh mozzarella cubes, hot peppers, olives, anchovies and/or capers. Or serve on a bed of salad greens or as a side to grilled veggies. 

  • 8 ounces crusty or stale bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup or more roughly chopped or torn basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the bread into large cubes and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake until crispy and just starting to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly. You could do this a couple of days in advance and continue with the recipe when ready to serve. Instead of cutting the bread, you could have a helper tear it into pieces.

Mix oil, vinegar or lemon juice, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Add in bread and basil. Stir, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve and enjoy.

Grilled Romaine

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend(s) kicking off in just a day, you’re probably dreaming of all the grilled foods you’ll soon be enjoying. And believe it or not, salad can be one of them. Briefly grilling halved Romaine heads adds a nice charred flavor that just tastes like summer. Red onion, soft blue cheese and crispy bacon bring a variety of flavors and textures – a quality you should strive for when assembling any salad. Then, a balsamic reduction drizzled over it all adds an amazing level of tangy sweetness. With a little imagination, you could even stretch this to fulfill your red, white and blue quota. Have a delicious Fourth!

GRILLED ROMAINE WITH BALSAMIC AND BLUE CHEESE

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 lb diced bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. If not using bacon, go ahead and cook the onions until they start to become translucent.
  3. Remove the onion and bacon from the pan and add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil. Reduce for 2 –3 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Brush the Romaine with the remaining olive oil. Place on the grill cut side down until grill marks are visible, about 2 minutes.
  5. For each serving, place half a Romaine head grilled-side up on a plate and drizzle over the balsamic. Sprinkle with blue cheese, bacon and onions, and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Serves 6

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011

(Leftover!) Turkey Curry

The Domestic Diva’s Curry goes together just like her soups, based on your personal preferences and tastes. Please use this recipe as a guide and add or subtract vegetables and spices as you see fit. The Domestic Diva’s Turkey Curry

  • 2-5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-2 inched of ginger, minced
  • 2-3 large onions, cut into medium pieces
  • 1-2 peppers, cut into medium pieces. Diva prefers colored peppers
  • 1/4-1 hot pepper, think jalepeno or thai chili, diced finely
  • 1-2 potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2-1 head of fennel and/or celeriac, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2- 1 rutabaga or turnip, cut into medium pieces
  • 3  carrots, cut into medium pieces
  • Whatever other firm vegetables you have on hand.
  • 1-2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1-2 large cans of diced tomatoes
  • Meat, raw or cooked (optional)
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, curry, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, chili or chipotle powder, salt and pepper

Preparation Place onions and garlic in the stock pot with oil and cook until fragrant.  Introduce raw meat if desired. Cooked meat will be added later.  Add vegetables one at a time, allowing them to cook and begin to let go of some of there “flavor”. Until all vegetables are in pot and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add one can of coconut milk and one can of tomatoes.   Add cooked meat if desired. If you are adding fish wait until later.  If you desire more liquid you can add more coconut milk and tomatoes, or water/stock, and if you have white wine on hand some of that.  Taste.  Begin to add the desired seasonings one at a time.  Taste after each addition.  Continue to add spices until your desired flavor has developed. Allow to cook on low, until all vegetables are soft. If using fish add it when the vegetables are done cooking and cook until the fish is done.   Serve over rice. Super easy, freezable, and a great way to use left over Turkey from the holidays!

Brussels Sprout, Parsnip, and Leek Au Gratin

Add this dish to your localvore holiday!  Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing this tasty recipe with us. Ingredients • 5 parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into half moons • 2 large leeks, halved, cleaned,sliced into half moons • 1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, cut in half, quartered • 1 cup cream or dairy cream substitute • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • 1/2 half white onion or 1 shallot diced, finely • 2 tbs corn starch (if using all local ingredients, use a local flour–but add it slowly to prevent lumps) • 1/4 stalk fresh rosemary • 1 stalk fresh thyme • 1/4 to 1 cup of cheddar cheese, grated • 1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (if using all local ingredients, try an aged Vermont goat cheese in lieu of Parmesan) • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs, optional

Directions Saute leeks and parsnips in oil, butter, or bacon fat until tender. Place in medium oven-safe dish.  Saute brussel sprouts until browned and outer leaves become tender.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Add brussel sprouts to parsnips and leeks in the oven-safe dish.

In a sauce pan combine cream, garlic, and onion. Heat until hot.  Add corn starch. Whisk until smooth or puree in food processor.  Add rosemary and thyme and cook until warm and thick.  Add cheddar cheese, let melt. Taste, season with salt and pepper.  Remove rosemary and thyme stalks. For thicker sauce add more corn starch, whisking until smooth.

Pour sauce over vegetables and toss until well coated.  Bake in oven at 350F until thick, bubbly, and sprouts are tender, NOT mushy. Top with parmesan cheese and panko crumbs and bake until golden brown.

If traveling with this dish, pre-bake until warm and bubbly. Reheat at destination with parmesan and panko.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

Vegetables to roast (choose any combination of the following):

  • potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • beets, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • fennel bulbs, cored, cut into half-inch pieces

Add:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt and pepper

Optional:

  • herbs, like thyme, marjoram, or rosemary
  • vinegar, like balsamic

Preparation:

Preheat to 400°F. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between heavy baking sheets, if necessary. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic cloves to baking sheet(s).  Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)  Transfer roasted vegetables to large bowl and then serve.

1 2 3 4