Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Slow-roasted Sungold Tomatoes

I love tomato season. Absolutely love it. In fact, it may be the only time of the year when I truly enjoy tomatoes. Juicy, sweet and dense with the slightest tang, August is truly the month of tomato splendor.

Last year I had a terrible tomato year. I started all of my plants from seed, nurtured them, trained them and was delighted when the green globes began to form. That is, until late blight hit. Two weeks and loads of white fuzz and black blemishes later and it was game over, with hardly a harvest to speak of. This year was different. I chose to only plant blight-resistant cherry tomatoes and made sure to prune heavily to increase air flow. Perfection- at the height of the season I was getting at least a pint a day of golden tomatoes.

Sweet and juicy with a delicate pop, this tomato burst onto the scene with gusto.  I used them in salads, salsas, sandwiches and sauces. Golden enchilada sauce? Why not. Sungold, Peach and Avocado Salsa? Yes please. But my favorite might be the simplest preparation: Slow-roasted Sungold Tomatoes.

With a low heat and long sauna, tomatoes release their juices and their natural sugars, resulting in a dense, dank, caramelized mess. Perfect topping for a Zucchini Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Garlicky White Beans and Kale. Or sitting atop a summer corn polenta drizzled with balsamic reduction. Even better aside a nice glass of red wine.

You could be a purist and stick with straight up tomato. I like to add in some sweet onions, leeks or fennel if available, for a nice twist. To finish it off, try a squeeze of fresh lemon and handful of herbs- cilantro, basil or rosemary all sound nice.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Serves 6


5 lbs. tomatoes- heirloom, cherry or whatever you have
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large onions or leeks, large dice
1 head fennel, large dice (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
generous pinch of black pepper
juice of half a lemon
Chopped herbs (basil, cilantro, rosemary etc.- optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice larger tomatoes into quarters or eighths, and cherry tomatoes in half. Toss with garlic, onions, fennel (if using), oil, salt and pepper. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer mixture. The best you can, arrange tomatoes cut side up.  
Place in preheated oven and turn on convection fan, if you have one. Bake for one hour, remove and stir. Repeat process every hour until tomatoes are broken down, liquid has evaporated and flesh is sticky but moist, about 2-4 hours. Remove from oven, toss with lemon juice and herbs and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. 

Enjoy immediately, store in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for a welcome winter treat. 

Relax. Eat Well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Basil Fettuccine in Sweet and Smoky Corn Cream

I can't seem to get enough of corn this season. I am not sure if it's due to the 10 month of deprivation or pure enthusiasm, but this harvest seems particularly sweet, plump and delish. 
When I came across the idea of a vegan corn cream sauce, it seemed too perfect not to try. I love the play of the sweet corn kernels against a slightly smoky chipotle kick, balanced out with hearty kale and zesty basil. I served this with maple roasted delicata squash on the side, which I chopped up and threw right in when I reheated it the next night. Very nice either way.

I am not a huge pasta-monger, but will enjoy some whole-wheat ribbons every once in awhile- as a comforting treat. I tried this out with gluten-free quinoa pagoda pasta as well and enjoyed it just as much, for those of you avoiding gluten. 
A warning about corn- just like soy and wheat, corn is a commodity crop in the US, so it is important to be careful about your sources. It is extremely common for corn to be grown from GMO'd seeds, so when shopping at your local farmers market or farm stand this summer, make sure to ask the grower if their corn is GMO-free. The organic label will guarantee this practice, but I have found there are many farmers out there without the certification that make a point to avoid GMO seeds, so it is more a matter of having that conversation. Not to get preachy, just wanted to share that information, for the health of our soil, seeds, bodies and agricultural future. 

Soaking the almonds overnight will neutralize their phytic acid, rendering their precious nutrients more digestible, as well as make it a breeze to pop off the skins. They will bloat and absorb quite a bit of the water while soaking, which results in a nice creamy texture when pureed. 

Basil Fettuccine in Sweet and Smoky Corn Cream
Serves 8
1.5 c almonds, soaked overnight, skins removed

1.5 cups corn kernels, blanched (can use frozen if out of season)

1 cup water
 or vegetable stock
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 a small onion

juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon honey
1/4 -1/2 tsp. 
salt, to taste
½ tsp chipotle powder

8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine or gluten-free pasta
2 cups corn kernels, blanched (can use frozen if out of season)

1 bunch kale, stems removed and sliced into strips
½ cup basil, sliced into strips
Salt to taste

Place almonds through chipotle powder in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust with honey for sweetness, lemon juice for tartness, oil for richness and chipotle powder for smoky heat. And, of course, salt to taste. 
Cook pasta according to directions. In the last minute of cooking time, add the kale ribbons, and stir. Drain and rinse. Return to pot and add whole corn kernels and basil. Toss with corn cream and additional liquid to reach your desired texture and flavor. I like mine with a nice coating of thicker sauce and dose of salt, with an extra pinch of red pepper flakes. If reheating, additional liquid may be necessary, as it tends to thicken up.
Relax. Eat Well.