Posts Tagged “tomato”

Ricotta and Herb Dumplings A while ago I decided to try my hand at cheesemaking - as a devoted lover of cheese I think it was inevitable that I would try to make my own sooner or later. The obvious starting point for any amateur cheesemaker is ricotta. It's the simplest of cheeses - simply add something acidic, such as lemon juice, to some milk to split it into its constituent parts, and drain. Season the resulting drained curds with some sea salt and you're done; it's that easy. The nice thing about ricotta is that it's typically made with either lemon juice or vinegar, rather than rennet like most other cheeses, so you don't need any specialist ingredients. This dish was inspired by a recipe for a Corsican/Italian dish called _strozapretti_, which consists of rustic ricotta dumplings loaded with chopped fresh herbs and chard. It's like ravioli but with just the stuffing, and no pasta surrounding it. Traditionally the dumplings would be fairly rough and imperfect in shape, but I have shaped mine nicely into rounds. I've also baked them in the oven until golden, which is fantastic if you grate parmesan on top first. Baked in a rich tomato sauce, it's pretty irresistible! The ricotta for this recipe should be quite firm, which is easy to achieve if you make your own. Click [here]( for my own ricotta recipe. Alternatively, you can use shop-bought ricotta and drain it overnight in a fine sieve. --- * 200g firm ricotta * 80g baby spinach * 1 small bunch of mint, leaves picked * 1 small bunch of basil, leaves picked * 25g parmesan, finely grated * ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil * 3 tbsp plain flour * 1 egg * 2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes * 1 small onion, finely chopped * 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated * 1 sprig of thyme * sea salt and cracked black pepper * vegetable oil, for frying * olive oil, for frying 1. Place a saute pan over a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the spinach along with a small pinch of salt. Saute until the spinach is wilted, then drain in a sieve. 2. Reserve a selection of the nicest, smallest basil leaves for garnish at the end. Finely chop the mint and roughly chop the remainder of the basil, then place in a bowl. Add the ricotta, flour and egg to the bowl also. 3. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, with clean hands squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible, then roughly chop and add to the bowl with the ricotta along with a generous pinch of black pepper, and sea salt to taste. 4. Line a large tray with greaseproof paper, then divide the ricotta mix into equal portions. Shape each portion into an approximate ball shape and set on the tray. The balls will be quite sticky but don't worry, we're going to re-shape them before cooking. Place the balls in the fridge to cool for 3 hours. 5. Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce; heat a medium pot or saute pan over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, once it's hot, add the onion and garlic and a couple of pinches of salt and cracked black pepper. Sweat gently for 10 minutes until soft, then add the tomatoes and thyme. Turn the heat to low, and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. It should have turned darker and richer. Remove from the heat and discard the sprig of thyme. 6. Get a large pan of water boiling on the stove and season it generously with salt. Remove the balls from the fridge and, with floured hands shape them into nice round dumpling shapes. With the water at a rolling boil, cook the dumplings 3 or 4 at a time. The water should barely stop boiling when you add each batch. After they float to the surface cook for a further 30 seconds then remove and drain in a colander. 7. Heat the oven to 180C. In a casserole dish or oven-proof bowl, pour in the tomato sauce and add the dumplings. Scatter over the parmesan then place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the dumplings are lightly browned. 8. Garnish with the reserved basil leaves and serve.

Aubergine, Tomato, Parmesan Melanzane alla Parmigiana is a classic Italian dish of fried aubergines, tomato and parmesan, a bit like a lasagne but with aubergines instead of pasta. And it is delicious! Superior to lasagne in my opinion, if I had to choose between the two, melanzane would win hands down. It’s so hot today I have opened all the windows and there is a warm breeze blowing through the room. The weather puts me in the mood for a salad, and thinking about this dish gave me the idea of doing a salad version of it, with crispy aubergine slices, fresh tomatoes and shavings of parmesan. The thought of it has my mouth watering already.. --- * 1 aubergine * 2 tomatoes * 20g of parmesan, shaved * sea salt * cracked black pepper * 1 handful of basil * extra virgin olive oil * balsamic vinegar 1. To make crispy aubergine slices, you need to remove most of the water from the aubergine. It’s like a sponge, and holds a lot of moisture. Slice them and salt them to draw it out. This way they will go nice and crisp when you bake them. 2. Heat the oven to 180C. Gently squeeze out the liquid from the aubergine slices, being careful not to break them. Arrange them on a baking tray and flatten them out. Sprinkle with a little black pepper, but no salt. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning them over halfway, until they are golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to drain on some kitchen paper. 3. To assemble the salad: slice the tomato into 2mm slices and season each slice with sea salt, cracked black pepper and olive oil. Arrange the aubergine slices alternating with the tomato as shown in the photo. Garnish with basil leaves, parmesan shavings and balsamic vinegar.

Stars and Stripes Bagel I was introduced to the "Stars and stripes" bagel by my brother Rob, who had had one from the Bagel Factory. The filling comprises of bacon, cream cheese, tomatoes and guacamole. It occurred to him that it'd be pretty good with the addition of sweet chilli sauce, which he requested, and he was right! He made it at home for me a couple of times and it was excellent. So this is my homage to Rob's improved stars and stripes, with a slight variation...instead of guacamole I just used slices of avocado and seasoned them nicely with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and a little lime juice. --- * 2 bagels * 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon * 2 tomatoes * 1 avocado * 4 tablespoons of cream cheese * sweet chilli sauce * sea salt * cracked black pepper * extra virgin olive oil * 1 lime * vegetable oil 1. Lightly toast the bagels, fry the bacon until crispy. Peel the avocado, remove the stone and cut into slices. Season the slices with sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and lime juice. Give half an avocado per portion. Layer the fillings generously, as shown in the photo.

Mum's Tomato Soup This soup is extremely popular in our household, and one of the first recipes I learned off by heart. Probably closer to minestrone than tomato, It’s thick and hearty, guaranteed to fill you up. Instead of pasta, as in a typical minestrone, this soup has a handful of rice thrown in the beginning which swells up to thicken the liquid and give it some body. You could use lentils instead, if you prefer. This is a chunky, broth-like soup rather than being smooth and silky, and although I like to cut all the vegetables to a nice uniform shape and size, you can cut them any old way and be as rustic as you like. As with many soups, the quality of this one comes down to the stock. I will usually make this soup after cooking a joint of smoked gammon or bacon, using the delicious salty liquid as the meaty backbone for my tomatoey broth. I highly advise this, if not then some nice vegetable stock is an acceptable alternative. This soup is best enjoyed with freshly baked bread and butter. As for us, we were treated to Dad’s crusty baguettes, still piping hot from the oven --- * 2litres of smoked ham stock, or vegetable stock * 6 rashers of streaky bacon * 2 carrots * 2 onions * 3 sticks of celery * 30g of basmati rice * 4 cloves of garlic * 1/2 teaspoons of dried thyme * 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano * 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes * 2 tablespoons of tomato purée * sea salt and cracked black pepper * a handful of basil or parsley leaves 1. Cut the bacon into lardons and, in a large pot, fry until crispy. Meanwhile, cut the carrot, onion and celery into 5mm dice, and peel and finely chop the garlic. Once the bacon is nice and caramelised, add the onion, garlic and celery. Turn the heat down and sweat gently for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft and dark. Add the basmati rice, carrots, thyme and oregano and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, the tomato purée and the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Finish with some torn or chopped basil leaves, then and serve with fresh crusty bread.

Pasta Puttanesca I've just received a slow cooker as a birthday present from my good friend Lewis, its fantastic because it allows me to braise meat and stews for a long time without having to be in the house. When I'm working all day I can have my dinner slowly cooking for when I get back. I make tomato sauce with the slow cooker; tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and tomato purée simmered gently for several hours until it is dark and reduced. I then purée and pass it through a fine sieve to make it extra smooth. What you get is an amazingly rich dark red sauce. This can be used for any number of things, but my current favourite is to make salty pungent puttanesca with it. This sauce is accompanied by spaghetti; literally “whore’s style spaghetti”, it’s packed with in-your-face flavours. Traditionally made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, anchovies and capers, it’s salty and moreish. It’s a good dish to have in your repertoire; because it’s made almost entirely with store cupboard ingredients it can be rustled up with just a moment’s notice, although in my recipe the tomato sauce is simmered for eight hours to make it extra rich. This isn’t essential but will make your sauce taste amazing. I recommend making a big batch of sauce and freezing it. As there are so many big and bold flavours going on here, I have added a good handful of parsley and basil to bring some freshness to the dish and vital splash of green, making it particularly eye-catching. --- * 2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes * 3 tablespoons of tomato purée * 1 onion * 5 large cloves of garlic * 1 glass of red wine * extra virgin olive oil * 1 tablespoon of sugar * 1 large handful of pitted black olives * 6 anchovy fillets * 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley * 1 handful of basil leaves * 400g of tagliatelle 1. To make the tomato sauce; finely slice the onion and sweat in a couple of glugs of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until the onions are completely softened. Now finely chop the garlic cloves and add to the pot along with the tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar and red wine. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for about 8 hours until the sauce is rich and dark. purée the sauce in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. it should be fairly thick so that it coats the pasta nicely. If it's too thin, simmer it gently to reduce further. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. 2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions while you finish the sauce: finely chop the anchovy fillets and gently fry in a little olive oil until they start to disintegrate, then add the tomato sauce and stir. Slice the olives and add to the sauce. Finely chop the parsley and roughly chop the basil and add to the sauce at the very end. When the pasta is ready, stir the sauce in; add just enough to coat the pasta nicely, it should be really thick. Serve with some red wine and crusty bread. Fantastic!

Tomato Concasse and Prawn Spaghetti I got the idea for this recipe when I was in India with Jack and Claire. We were in Goa and, growing tired of curry, were craving some western food for our dinner. We came upon an Italian restaurant on the edge of the beach, with plastic tables and chairs arranged under palm trees. Reputedly the pizzas and pasta were particularly good so we thought we’d give it a go. I went for ‘tomato and prawn spaghetti’ and it was absolutely delicious. It was a simple dish, using fresh tomatoes and little baby prawns. It had a really nice light sauce and was the perfect thing to eat on a hot evening, accompanied by a chilled bottle of beer! So this is my attempt at replicating that dish. It’s basically a sauce made from tomato juice, white wine and garlic, then thickened and enriched with butter. The diced tomato flesh and prawns are then simply added to heat through, just before serving. I used frozen cooked baby prawns, but if you can find fresh ones then all the better. It’s seasonal too; tomatoes are just about still good at this time of year, so make the most of it! --- * 3 tomatoes * 200g of spaghetti * 1 clove of garlic * 30g of unsalted butter * 180g of cooked prawns * 1 handful of fresh basil leaves * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * extra virgin olive oil * 200ml of white wine 1. Get a pan of salted boiling water on the go; this will be for blanching the tomatoes and cooking the spaghetti. To peel the tomatoes: carefully cut out the stalk with the tip of a small knife and score a cross in the bottom. Get a large bowl of very cold water ready, drop the tomatoes in the boiling water for 15 seconds, then remove and place straight into the cold water. 2. Once the water has come back to the boil, add a glug of olive oil, put in the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions. Peel the tomatoes, discard the skin then quarter, de-seed (reserving the pulp and seeds) and cut the flesh into small dice. Set aside the dice (this is called tomato concasse).Take the pulp and seeds, blitz in a blender and pass through a fine sieve into a saucepan. 3. Heat another saucepan over a medium heat, and add a glug of olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté gently for 30 seconds. and add the wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter cut into small dice piece by piece, being sure to emulsify properly. Add the tomato concasse, prawns and basil. Add the spaghetti and mix everything together, making sure the pasta is nicely coated with the sauce. Taste and season with salt and freshly pepper. Serve and eat immediately!