August tomato dinner

Tomatoes are in their prime and plentiful. You have had your raw tomato feast. You have plenty o’ tomatoes sitting out on a platter. Perhaps some are starting to go past their prime. Time to cook ’em up! A speedy scrumptious dinner that screams: SUMMER!

Sauté garlic in oil. Add in some cut up tomatoes — perhaps you want to squeeze out and discard seeds which bring nothing to the party — and cook for about 10 minutes or so with salt until they wilt. Add in peeled shrimp and cook for about 4 minutes.

Throw some cooked pasta — campanelle (trumpets seem perfectly matched) into sauce with some reserved pasta cooking water, and plate. Top with chiffonade basil and perhaps some grated parmesan (though in Rome this would be taboo serving cheese with seafood!).

Or: instead of shrimp, top pasta with some fresh cubed mozzarella. Mangia! Fresh tomatoes with aromatic basil. Happy summer dining! And no sweat.

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Roasted vegetables for summer meal

This is super-delicious, freshly vibrant, and low-stress because cooked vegetables sit on the counter until you’re ready to eat.

Here’s how to do it:
Game plan:

Put up some black forbidden rice or perhaps brown rice.

Grill vegetables in a grill pan over hot fire, basting with flavored olive oil (with pastry brush) before placing oil-side down on grill, and baste top. Cover grill to stop flares. Watch carefully and move around to prevent burning. Takes just a couple minutes if fire is hot.
Remove and serve warm or room temperature with perhaps some black forbidden rice and Asian vinaigrette.
Or take in Italian route with oregano in the oil, and fresh basil in some brown rice(?) with fresh tomato slices.

Specific directions:
Light a charcoal fire.

Chop garlic and add to olive oil with S&P. Optional: tarragon or rosemary.

Prepare Vegetables:

Sweet peppers, cut in half and remove seeds and ribs
Eggplant — Love Thai. Cut in half lengthwise and then into 4” pieces. If using large eggplant, cut off outside lengthwise and then into 1/2” or wider slices.
Onions, especially summer onions — peeled and cut in half if not too large. Otherwise cut into segments. I think it would be a good idea to stick a toothpick or soaked skewer through ‘em so they don’t fall apart and burn.
Zucchini, cut like eggplant — trim outside, then cut into 4” lengths and thick-ish slices.
Mushrooms — wash and de-stem, leaving whole. I like cremini. Portobello of course if you have ‘em.
Shishito peppers

 

Cooking black rice: Wash rice 4-5 times. Put in rice cooker and add 1 c rice to 1-3/4 c water. Cook like brown rice.

Alternately, put into small saucepan and cook for 30 minutes.

Summer salad

First: when you buy a head of lettuce, as soon as you get it home, wash, dry and refrigerate. That way you have one step up on salad making, and it’s a sinch to grab some lettuce to tuck into a sandwich or whatever.

Ingredients — on top of lettuce:

Carrots
Cauliflower, raw, cut up into florets
potatoes, boiled
Protein: boiled shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, or poached chicken breast

Green beans, par-boiled (boiled 2 minutes in salted water)
Avocado
Tomato
Cucumber — I like to partially peel, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon, and then cut into half-moon slices.

Pepitas sprinkled on top are a nice addition.

Here’s an earlier take on this salad

And here’s the buttermilk vinaigrette dressing I love.

Easy Curry chicken and eggplant

Ingredients:

boneless chicken breast, 1/2#

coconut milk, 1 can (Chaokoh brand is good)

red curry paste (Maesri brand)

eggplant, 300 g+, cut into large chunks. Or small Thai eggplants if available.

cilantro, chopped

optional: fresh peppers — hot or sweet; ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions

Well it’s so 2017, but I have launched myself into (back into?) it with a purchase of yes, an Instant Pot. I read about Amazon’s one day a year sale on them, and again missed it this year but then read about Walmart competing with an even better model and for only 50 bucks I sprung. I have a honking-large 6-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker and who knows what else because though I have washed it is in just sitting in the middle of my kitchen taking up an elephant-size share of real estate.

I thought I might try it last eve since I got out of the library the “butter chicken lady” cookbook called Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. Still too involved what with the making up the garam masala mixture before I even got to cooking and I was getting hungry, so I used my can of curry paste and cooked in my mother’s old-fangled dutch oven. Here’s what I did:

Sauté 3/4 can red curry paste in 1 T oil. (Or you can instead of oil, use the skimmed coconut fat/oil on top of the can of coconut milk.) Cook and stir for a couple minutes. Add one can of coconut milk and bring to a boil. (I think you can add some fresh ingredients before the milk, such as: fresh peppers — hot or sweet — ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions and other sauté-type ingredients.)

Add boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces, and eggplant also cut up. Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant is cooked through. Taste and correct with fish sauce, soy sauce and/or sugar.

Serve with rice garnished with cilantro.

IMG_6066

Impromptu summer fish bake

When tomatoes are starting to come in and you want to make an easy indoor dinner, try this sauce for baking fish:

Garlic, parsley, capers, tomatoes, olive oil & salt whirred in mini-chopper. Place fish in buttered pan and pour sauce over fish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees.

Or: roast with butter and use as sauce afterwards.

Serve with boiled green beans and farro.IMG_6064

Summer pasta with shrimp and nduja

Quick and easy, truly! Sauce is made in less time that it takes to cook pasta. I know, many recipe writers state that but this time I can attest it’s true!

Ingredients:

shrimp, Frozen are fine, defrosted under running water (takes about 5 minutes or less)

garlic cloves, 2 minced

tomatoes, 2 small-ish, cut into chunks, or equal amount of cherry tomatoes, halved

nduja, 1 oz (no need to cut up; it will dissolve to create a luscious sauce)

lemon zest, and perhaps some juice

fresh basil or parsley, chiffondade

pasta, such as campanelle, 2 oz per person

Directions:

Defrost shrimp under running water.

Put up large pot of water to boil for pasta.

Peel and devein shrimp. Mince garlic. Cut up tomatoes into large chunks. Slice off a hunk o’ nduja.fullsizeoutput_1d92

Directions: When water boils, add salt and pasta. Stir, bring to boil and cook in usual manner.

Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, and then garlic and shrimp. Cook, stirring about 2 minutes. Add: tomatoes, nduja and lemon zest. Cook, stirring about another 4 minutes or so. IMG_6053If it’s dry, add in lemon juice. Cover and let sit waiting for pasta to finish cooking.

Dump the pasta into the sauce and give it a stir. IMG_6054

Chiffonade some basil if it’s handy. Otherwise parsley is good too.

Greens and beans

This is a classic Italian dish, and I believe is “classic” because it is so very delicious. The ingredients are interchangeable as long as there is plenty o’ garlic, greens and those thar beans!

Here is a pleasant summer variation, close to standard:

Broccolini

new or older onion, sliced in half-moons or quarters

garlic cloves, rough minced

chicken or vegetable stock

parmesan cheese

cannelini beans

Directions:

Cut up onion and garlic. Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Rinse broccolini and add to sauté pan with S&P. Turn up heat and add stock. IMG_6042

Turn in stock, cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until just under crisp tender. Add beans to warm through about 3 minutes. IMG_6043

Serve with drizzle of lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, and grated parmesan.