Friday, August 29, 2014

Tomato and Carrot Marinara Sauce

Tomato and Carrot Marinara Sauce

If you’re trying to eat less meat but miss chunky tomato sauce, you’ll appreciate the finely diced carrots in this one.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and finely diced (1/4 inch dice or smaller), or finely chopped in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds tomatoes, seeded and grated, or peeled, seeded and chopped; or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 sprig of fresh basil, if available
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, wide nonstick skillet or saucepan. Add the carrots. Cook, stirring, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute until the garlic begins to smell fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the sugar, basil sprig, salt, tomato paste and oregano. Stir, and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until thick and fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the basil sprig, and wipe any sauce adhering to it back into the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Variation: Substitute 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme for the basil.
Yield: 2 1/4 cups (about eight servings).
Advance preparation: The sauce will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator and freezes well.
Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at Her latest book, "The Very Best of Recipes for Health," was published recently by Rodale Books.

Carrots and Tomatillos!? Who knew?

Carrot Soup with Tomatillo Relish

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours
MAKES: 2 ½ quarts; 6 servings
NOTES: The tomatillo relish can be made up to 2 days ahead; cover and chill. The carrot soup can be made up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Reheat over medium heat, stirring often.
1 ½ cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced peeled carrots (about 10; 1 3/4 lb. total)
Yukon Gold potatoes (12 oz. total), peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 ½ quarts fat-skimmed low-sodium chicken broth
Roasted tomatillo relish (recipe follows below)
1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, stir onions often in olive oil until limp, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in carrots and potatoes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pan, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are tender when pierced, about 20 minutes.
3. Working in small batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
4. Return the soup to the pan and stir often over medium heat until hot. Add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a dollop of roasted tomatillo relish.

Roasted tomatillo relish
Pull off husks from 1 pound tomatillos and rinse tomatillos well. Place in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan and bake in a 400° oven until slightly browned and soft when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse, stem, seed, and chop 1 fresh green jalapeƱo chile; rinse 2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro and 1 cup lightly packed parsley. Transfer tomatillos to a blender or food processor and add chile, cilantro, parsley, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped and slightly chunky. Makes 2 cups.

Friday, August 22, 2014


"A lot of people think this is an unripe green tomato, but it isn't. It certainly looks like a tomato, but it's covered with a paper husk on the outside. What is it?
It's a tomatillo. While a member of the same nightshade family as the tomato, it is not a tomato. I'm originally from Georgia, and one day after I moved to California, I craved fried green tomatoes. I was shocked that I couldn't find green fryers in the markets, and asked around - "where can I find green tomatoes?" All my California friends kept pointing at tomatillos, not understanding that they are not green tomatoes.
Tomatillos were first cultivated by the Aztecs. The name "tomatillo" comes from the Aztec "miltomatl," which means "round and plump with paper." (The Aztecs called tomatoes "xitomatl.") Tomatillos are also called husk tomatoes and Mexican tomatoes. They're an essential ingredient in salsa verde and other Latin American dishes. They taste great roasted or grilled and added to guacamole. Select green tomatillos with green husks; if they are yellow with brown husks, they are past their prime. They can keep in the fridge for two weeks. Don't remove the husks until you are ready to cook with them; the husks maintain their freshness. They have a slightly tart taste."  ~Excerpt taken from The blog

Here is a link to 15 tomatillo recipes and below is a personal fave.  Enjoy!!!
Garlic Salsa Verde
about 1 cup
2 large bunches of cilantro
6 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno
Juice of 2 limes
Olive oil
Take the cilantro off the stems and chop fine. Mince the garlic and jalapeno. Whiz everything in the food processor or blender, adding a drizzle of olive oil if it is too thick. Season with salt.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tomatoes, peppers and onions are in abundance this time of year and sometimes it is fun to get creative and do something with them a little out of the norm.   Here are a couple of recipes that I have made that are interesting and tasty!  These recipes are intended to be preserved for later use, but you can adjust the quantities and make small batches for short term use. 

Tomato Jam

I have made this more than once. Kind of like a sweeter version of catsup, but better tasting.  Yield: about 9 medium glass jars.  It is a true jam, however, so it is loaded with sugar!

3 cups prepared organic tomatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated organic lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
6 1/2 cups (2 pounds 14 ounces) granulated organic sugar
1 bottle pectin "Certo" (I think that's the same volume as the 2 packages that come in the box nowadays, check with Certo if unsure. I haven’t seen the bottled Certo in years.)

First prepare tomatoes. Scald, peel, chop the fully ripe tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. 
Measure 3 cups of that into a large saucepan. 
Add the lemon rind and juice to the tomatoes. 
Add the exact measure of sugar and mix well. 
Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add pectin. 
Skim off foam with metal spoon. Then stir and skim for 5 minutes to cool slightly and prevent floating "fruit." 
Ladle into sterilized glass jars, leaving 1/2 inch space, tighten lids and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tomato Butter
This is especially delicious on ham, but it can be used on other meats.
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups granulated organic sugar
2 cups appli cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon salt
5 quarts ground ripe organic tomatoes
3 medium organic onions, ground
1 green organic bell pepper, ground
1 can crushed pineapple
Combine sugars, vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil. Add ground vegetables and pineapple. Simmer over low heat until desired thickness, stirring frequently. Pour into hot sterilized jars, 
leaving 1/2 inch space, tighten lids and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

Carrots, Carrots, Carrots! Something fun for today!

The Carrot has a somewhat complex and unclear history, surrounded by doubt and enigma and it is difficult to pin down when domestication took place. The wide distribution of Wild Carrot (Daucus carota, carota), the absence of carrot remains in archaeological excavations and lack of documentary evidence do not enable us to determine precisely where and when carrot domestication was initiated. Over thousands of years it moved from a small, tough, bitter and spindly root to a fleshy, sweet, pigmented unbranched edible root.  It transformed from its seeds being used as a medicine or aphrodisiac to the root being eaten in many different dishes. Even before the introduction of domesticated carrots, wild plants were grown in gardens as medicinal plants.

Unravelling its progress through the ages is complex and inconclusive, but nevertheless a fascinating journey through time and the history of mankind. It is considered that Carrots were originally purple with a thin root, then a mutant occurred which removed the purple pigmentation resulting on a new race of yellow carrots. A tale, probably apocryphal, has it that the orange carrot was bred in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century to honour William of Orange. Though the stabilised and domesticated orange carrot does date from the sixteenth century Netherlands, it is unlikely that honouring William of Orange had anything to do with it!

Throughout the Classical Period and the Middle Ages writers constantly confused carrots and parsnips. This may seem odd given that the average carrot is about six inches long and bright orange while a parsnip is off white and can grow 3 feet, but this distinction was much less obvious before early modern plant breeders got to work. The orange carrot is a product of the 16th and 17th centuries probably in the Low Countries. Its original colour varied between dirty white and pinkish purple. Both vegetables have also got much fatter and fleshier in recent centuries, and parsnips may have been bred to be longer as well. In other words early medieval carrots and parsnips were both thin and woody and mostly of a vaguely whitish colour. This being the case, almost everyone up to the early modern period can perhaps be forgiven for failing to distinguish between the two, however frustrating this may be for the food historian.

Wild carrots have been present and used by Europeans since prehistoric times, but the garden carrot was unknown in Europe until the later Middle Ages. The Wild Carrot is the progenitor (wild ancestor) of the domestic carrot.  It is clear that the Wild Carrot and Domestic Carrot are the same species and both co-exist in the modern world. It is a popular myth that domestic carrot was developed from Wild Carrot, probably because of its similar smell and taste. Botanists have failed to develop an edible vegetable from the wild root and when cultivation of garden carrots lapses a few generations, it reverts to its ancestral type.  In 1866 French botanist  M Vilmorin claimed to have produced a viable, cultivated carrot from wild plants in four generations. The experiment was never repeated and it is thought that the "wild" plants used had previously been hybridized in nature with cultivated carrots. (Banga 1957)

Read the "rest of the story" here at the World Carrot Museum website

World Carrot Museum

Interesting way to use extra onions

Sweet Onion Preserves
  • 1/2 c Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lb Sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c Light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 c Tarragon white wine vinegar
  • 1 c Dry white wine
  • 1/4 c Tarragon leaves, fresh, minced
  • 1 ts ground white pepper

Warm oil in non-reactive pan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and sugar. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, storring occassionally, for 30 minutes. Add the venegar and wine and cook over med-low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, or until mixture is thick. Stir in the tarragon and pepper. Prepare the jars, lids and boiling water bath. Fill jars leave 1/4 inc headspace. Wipe rims with clean towel and attach lids securely. Place jars in boiling water bath, when water returns to boil, process for 15 mins.