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Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

100_1889Last August, I posted about ratatouille. Here it is again. Why won’t I shut up about ratatouille? First, because I want to demonstrate that – slowly and unsurely – I am becoming a better photographer. Second, because I tried a new way of cooking ratatouille that I actually like way better.

“There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille.” Some version of this sentence appears on the Wikipedia page of just about every dish known to man, and it brings up one of my least favorite concepts in food: “Authenticity.”

The idea that a dish is somehow invalid for not conforming to some specific standard drives me crazy, at least when it’s not recognized that it’s just a semantic argument, one about terminology, not value. A ratatouille by any other name…

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Salsa

Technically, this is called pico de gallo. Wikipedia has all sorts of interesting etymological explanations for why it’s called that. But to me, this is fresh tomato salsa. Easy to make with summer ingredients, and delicious as a condiment or as its own salad. The funny thing is, it’s so simple and easy. But it’s rare to see on the table. Maybe salsa is now universally associated with the soupy stuff you find in a jar, and the thing about those jars is that you’re constantly trying to use them up once they’re opened. So no one ever thinks to make it from scratch.

Well, as they say, your first time is always special. My first time, I was spending a depressed summer in Paris and a friend came over and said ‘hey, let’s make fresh tomato salsa!’ It changed my life. My second time came the very next day, when I invited three other friends over and promptly passed it off as my own invention. They were duly impressed, and I’ve never stopped eating it since.

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Greek_potatoes_done

One winter’s day I showed up cold, bedraggled and hungry at my friend Leda’s door. As is her style, she effortlessly produced the perfect salve: a steaming bowl of these Greek potatoes. It’s comfort food at its finest — filling (starch!), warming (zingy garlic and olives!) and easily consumed with a spoon while watching TV.

This dish also gave me new appreciation for the potato. It’s more than a reliable base for the surrounding ingredients; its got its own buttery flavors and a great spectrum of texture, from floury to pliant to crispy. In this recipe, the outsides of the chunks reach that final stage during a 15-minute fry in olive oil, and the result is a great counterpoint to the juicy tomatoes, olives and onions. (more…)

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Notice that the name of this post is not “Pasta with End of Summer Vegetables,” but rather “End of Summer Vegetables, with Pasta.” That’s because the emphasis here is on the veggies — the beautiful beautiful veggies that herald the end of summer, and the end of fresh vibrantly colored vegetables so delightful and delicious that they can, and should, be eaten raw.

Which is exactly what is happening here. I was feeling a little pooped one night, and was just going to make pasta. But I had all these vegetables in the fridge, and as much as I like the idea of just a big plate of pasta, the vegetables in the fridge won out. But I didn’t want to have to expend too much more energy — or dirty too many more pots and pans — for the sake of the vegetables. I had a bunch of jewel-like cherry tomatoes, a couple ears of corn, and a few spring onions. Normally, I would probably eat the tomatoes raw, but cook the other two, probably sautéing them. But I tasted the corn, and it was just so delicious on its own, I decided to make the leap, and serve all the vegetables raw. (more…)

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As the proud owner of a part of a CSA share — and thus the owner of 2 lbs of summer squash every week for the last month and a half –- my recent discovery of the “Recipes for Health” series in the New York Times’ Health section has been a real boon. Operating on the premise that cooking for yourself is the best way to eat healthily, Martha Rose Shulman offers recipes that use seasonal ingredients in, at least to my sometimes uninventive culinary mind, off-the-beaten-path ways. It helps that she’s not a skimper on eggs and cheese, but that’s perhaps for another post. Over six days about a week and a half ago, she printed five recipes that revolved around summer squash. A fan of things Spanish and eggy, I made the Pisto Manchego to bring in for lunch at work (but, sadly, ended up forgoing the eggs since they’re not transportable as prepared in the dish).  Below is my adaptation of the recipe. (My comments are added after the dashes where I made changes.) (more…)

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As Claire pointed out to me yesterday, we’ve been on a pretty salad-focused kick here at Food Junta, a lot of said salads involving tomatoes, corn, warming, or some combination thereof. But this salad was so good, I had to share it. Repetitiveness be damned.

Though I’m pretty sure this is a common-ish dish out there in the world, this particular salad was totally unplanned and just a result of what I happened to have kicking around in my kitchen. I had had the corn in my crisper for a little too long (6 days or so) and needed to do something with it, I usually have a red onion or two around for salads, and I had the sungolds around because I love sungolds.

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Ratatouille (or Tian of Vegetables, as it is also known) is the very fancy-sounding name for a very rustic Provencal dish. It is, in essence, a bunch of summer vegetables stewed together in the oven.

Ratatouille is a great dish for entertaining because it can be prepared ahead of time in vast quantities and simply slapped in the oven when your guests arrive or it can even be cooked in advance and served at room temperature. Sitting for a day actually concentrates the flavors and improves the ratatouille, and you can drink wine and hang out at your party instead of sweating in the kitchen while your friends eat all your cheese.

So go make some ratatouille, and stay tuned for a pretty clever plan for some of the leftovers, if I do say so myself, and I do. Recipe after the jump.

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