Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Use Your Summer Tomatoes

It's time to use your summer tomatoes!

Today I wanted to share with you some different dishes that may inspire you to use the ripe summer tomatoes that are currently available.

The best place to buy them?  From farm stands, farmer's markets or natural store foods such as Whole Foods for the best flavors.  However, many stores such as Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and your local grocery store care many wonderful varieties right now such as Heirloom, On the vine, or juicy cherry tomatoes.

You really can't go wrong.  Just look for ones that are brightly colored, plump, and free from blemishes.

Below are some recipes to whet your appetites and provide you with a little tomato inspiration.
Enjoy!


Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad with Feta Vinaigrette





Heirloom Pizza





Tomato Salad





Big Batch Marinara Sauce





Cheese Focaccia Panzanella with Grilled Ratatouille




Love me some tomatoes!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spaghetti with Summer Fresh Garlic Tomato Sauce


For quick weeknight dinners that are low calories and taste fabulous turn to in-season ingredients.

Today we are talking tomatoes!  I love, love, love a good summer tomato.  The flavor is unbeatable don't you think? They are at their height of their natural season, in summer, usually June through September.  To pick the ones with the most flavor, visit farm stands, farmers' markets and natural-food stores for vine-ripened tomatoes, that are organic (if possible).  But how do you keep these beauties?  You'll want to store ripe tomatoes at room temperature for up to 3 days.  That means you will want to use them pretty quickly for the best flavor.

Here is a wonderful view of the different types of tomatoes available right now.

courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.com

I'm using fresh grape tomatoes that I got from a local farmer's market in today's pasta dish.  Using the best ingredients when you have only a few in the dish makes all the difference in the taste.  You want quality oils and vinegar and fresh herbs.  This will make each flavor pop!


Coming soon I'll be sharing a side dish salad made with Heirloom tomatoes.  Big, beautiful, pretty tomatoes.  I love them as well!  What is your favorite tomato?



Spaghetti with Summer Fresh Garlic Tomato Sauce

Serves 2

4 ounces uncooked spaghetti
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
pinch sea salt

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

Cut each tomato crosswise into 8 to 10 thin slices. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and pepper; increase heat to medium-high. Cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes slightly soften, stirring occasionally. Stir in pasta, reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid, basil, and salt. 

adapted from Cookinglight.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Strawberry Banana Bread


I'm stocking up on my summer fruits by buying large quantities and freezing them.

I love my summer fruits, especially the berries.  I can't even believe that the season is almost over.  The good thing about living in Southern California is that the summer heat doesn't actually end until October here.  I just wish there fruit would last as long!


I recently bought blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and red and gold raspberries.  I flash freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan in the freezer for about 1 hour and then store them in good freezer bags.  They will last me well into winter when I want a nice smoothie or dessert.

So I didn't freeze all my berries because I've been in the mood to make some fruit dishes lately.  I kept out some strawberries to try this Strawberry Banana Bread I've been eyeing on Pinterest from Lisa over at Wine & Glue.  It looked scrumptious and let me say, it is!


I hope you enjoy this bread and use up all the fresh summer berries you can while they last!




Strawberry Banana Bread

makes 1 loaf


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large ripe bananas, mashed well
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, beaten
6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup diced strawberries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 by 5 inch bread pan with cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  
In a large bowl whisk together the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.  Gently add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, folding them together until just combined.  
Gently stir in the strawberries. The batter will be very thick.

Pour the batter into the bread pan and bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Allow to cool 10 in the loaf pan, then invert and remove the bread to a wire rack to cool.  Slice and serve.


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