Quinoa Porridge with Grilled Tomatoes and Garlic

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I could eat this savory porridge everyday. Between the quinoa, rich in vegetable stock (and butter!), the rich flavor of blistered  cherry tomatoes, bright herbs, salty feta cheese tang, and crispy, fried garlic, this dish gives me everything in umami flavors, and diverse textures. I originally made this dish for a quick dinner, but I gladly ate it again for breakfast the next day, and then later for lunch…

Taken from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, but with a substitution of parsley and cilantro (because that’s what I had) for his mint. You can make thicken or thin this porridge to your liking simply by adjusting the amount of vegetable broth. Don’t skim on the oil or the butter – this dish needs fat to really make it sing!

Serves 4

  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • about 4 2/3 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3½ oz  crumbled into ¾-inch/2-cm chunks
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz baby plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
  • salt and black pepper

Herb oil

  • 1 green chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves ( I used cilantro, instead)
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • salt

Preparation

1. To make the herb oil, place the chile, parsley, mint, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a small food processor and process to form a smooth sauce with a thick pouring consistency.

2. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, add the stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, uncovered, for about25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until a porridge-like consistency is formed. You might need to add a bit more stock if the quinoa is sticking to the pan. At the very end, fold in the butter until it melts, followed by the parsley and then the feta, making sure the feta stays in chunks.

3. While the quinoa is cooking, place a large sauté pan over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice so that all sides get some good charred color. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, so that it turns golden brown without burning. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with¼ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Chop the mint and fold it into the tomatoes just before serving, as it will start to blacken once chopped.

4. Spoon the warm quinoa porridge into shallow bowls, top with the tomatoes, finish with a drizzle of the herb oil, and serve at once.

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Quick, versatile tomato sauce

tomato sauce

I have all of this undersized, beautiful, tasty tomatoes in my garden. You might have a bunch of big juicy heirlooms bought at the farmers market, or a leftover assortment of smalls and larges, all different types. No worries. You can make a quick sauce that is super flexible, keeps well in the fridge for over a week, can be frozen, or can even be canned as a single jar. Just don’t’ let those gorgeous tomatoes go to waste! This is loosely a recipe for a single pint jar of sauce, though depending on your tomatoes, it might the a little more, or a little less. I decided to keep my jar in the refrigerator, and have been spooning it over pasta, toasted breads, and braised kale all week!

 

2 Tbs. olive oil, heated gently in a sauce pan

1.5 cups of fresh tomatoes, skin one

1/4 tsp. of salt

4 Tbs. fresh basil leaves

When your oil is heated gently in the skillet (olive oil doesn’t react well to high heat), add your garlic. Heat the garlic for a  few minutes until the garlic becomes translucent. Add your tomatoes. If they are small, add them whole or sliced in half. If they are larger, slice them into one inch chunks. Continue to cook the tomatoes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they break down, and begin to release their sugars. Add the basil, torn, and the salt, stir. When the tomatoes have released enough of their juices to make a loose sauce, turn off the heat. Use immediately, or cool, and refrigerate or freeze.

Fava Bean, Pea, and Jersey Tomato Salad

fava bean salad

We’ve reached that wonderful part of summer when we still have access to spring crops, but the later summer crops, like vine-ripened tomatoes, are starting to appear in farmers markets and Co-Ops. Here in Philadelphia, most of our earliest tomatoes come from New Jersey, which is famous for their juicy fruits. Combining spring and summer produce, I put together this very simple, and very delicious, salad with fresh fava beans, snap peas, tomatoes, and red onion. You could also add fresh herbs with abandoned! It’s perfect for these days when the weather really begins to heat up.

Fava Bean, Pea, and Jersey Tomato Salad

fresh fava beans, steamed in their shells, and then pealed.

sugar spap peas, ends trimmed and strings pulled

some big juicy tomatoes, of any type, vine ripened and chopped

a large red onion, finely diced

Toss the vegetables together – only the favas will need to be cooked. To avoid refrigerating the tomato (which destroys its flavor and texture) you can put this salad together ahead of time, adding the tomatoes before eating.

Whisk together a vinaigrette of good quality olive oil, white wine vinegar, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and the zest and juice of one lemon. I like to balance my vinaigrettes 1/3 oil to 2/3 acid (the vinegar and lemon juice) but some people prefer to reverse those proportions.

Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables, add any chopped herbs that you enjoy (I suggest mint, parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon and/or sage) and toss. Let marinate at least 15 minutes before serving.

Chunky Lentil Soup

I’ve mentioned before that I’m cooking my way through “Super Natural Cooking” by Heidi Swanson, but I realize that I’ve been a bit slow and forgetful about posting the results. I love this cookbook. The recipes are simple and always turn-out delicious, the photography is great, its paperback, and it emphasizes cooking from whole foods and grains.

Pictured above is the chunky lentil soup. When I first read the recipe above I though “what? no garlic? should I just put some garlic in?” because for me, savory recipes without garlic just don’t make sense. BUT I held off, used some chili powder I brought back from New Mexico last year, and added the stream of olive oil at serving that Heidi suggests. And let me tell you. Just look at that squash, with those gorgeous tomatoes canned last August, and the hearty, green lentils. It was amazing.

Stuffed Frying Peppers

I love hot peppers, and these big fryers are just spicy enough to make a stuffed pepper with a lot of kick. I did these simply-style – black beans, fresh corn, some chopped tomatoes, fried onions and a little gargonzola. My kitchen was out of commission, but the toaster oven worked just fine with this quick, fresh dinner.

ALSO about my new posts on my new twitter account @veggicurious

Cold Summer Zucchini Salad

I know that I’ve been slacking -its true. A trip to Toronto, a visit from my aunts, a visit from some other special someone, and now the flu and the past three weeks have been a whirlwind. But I’m back. I promise. Above, an easy easy salad that makes use of all the zucchini that has been appearing in my CSA, plus the tomatoes that are finally starting to roll in. I’ve long made a version of this salad, but I decided to use the recipe from this month’s Bon Appetit, and found the addition of lemon juice especially addictive. What this salad really needs, though, is perfectly ripe tomatoes, so add your own. And make sure to use a high-quality pecorino for the brightest flavor. In the last week, I’ve had this salad for lunch three times. That’s how much I like it. Give it a try!

Jalapeno Salsa

Jalapeno Salsa
Jalapeno Salsa

I love salsa, and jalapenos, and luckily my CSA has been giving me plenty of both. My salsa is a combination of a few recipes from the classic Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, a basic encyclopedia of home canning.

Jalapeno Salsa
makes 4 pints

5 cups chopped tomatoes
3 cups chopped jalapeno peppers, unseeded
3/4 c. chopped white onions
1 cup white vinegar
5 cloves garlic
4 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
1/2 t. cumin

Bring tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt, and cumin to boil over medium-high heat. I like to use my la cruset, but a good soup pot will work fine. Stir frequently, until the salsa thickens – about 15 minutes. Can using as you would tomato sauce, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top of a boiled jar. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rim, and screw band down on top of a pre-soaked lid. Process jars in a large pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and carefully remove jars after 5 minutes. If jar tops do not “pop” and indent, process again. Cool and store. You can begin enjoying your salsa after it mellows, in about 4 weeks.