Make these wonderful tomatoes when large, ripe plum tomatoes are plentiful. It’s really not worth making in quantities of less than five pounds, because the tomatoes shrink to about half their weight when baked. They are excellent on pizzas (such as the Sicilian Pan Pizza here) and in pasta sauces. If you remove some of the tomatoes, be sure to keep the remainder covered with olive oil. When they are all used, strain the olive oil and reserve it in the refrigerator to use for pasta sauces, to spread on sliced Italian bread to bake for crostini, or to make vinaigrette dressings.
Yield: About 6 cups
5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (about 1/2 bunch)
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary (about 1/4 bunch)
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (about 1/2 bunch)
6 to 8 cloves garlic, (about 1/4 cup chopped)
Preheat the oven to 225°F.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on 2 large metal baking pans with their cut sides up and slowly roast for 4 hours. The tomatoes should be dried and wrinkly-looking, but still plump.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
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Makes 3 cups
This Turkish dip gets its name from brick, which it resembles in color. A tangy, easy-to-make combination of roasted red bell peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and cumin, it will be a welcome change on your table from the more common hummus and tahini dips. Serve the muhammara with vegetable crudités, toasted pita bread, or as part of a selection of mezze (small Middle Eastern appetizers). Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern markets and from many specialty stores. It is reasonably priced and lasts indefinitely in the cupboard, so it’s worth having on hand. (Try using it instead of vinegar for your next salad dressing.)
- 21⁄2 pounds, (3 to 4) red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon Turkish red pepper paste (bottled)
- 6 ounces walnuts, coarsely ground
- 1⁄2 cup wheat crackers, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios (for garnish)
Roast the peppers on a grill or under the broiler. Process the peppers, pepper paste, walnuts, crackers, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin, and salt until ground and creamy. Spread onto a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped pistachios. Serve with pita crisps.
(From Starting with Ingredients)
Quince trees used to abound all over the American landscape, but now they’ve become a somewhat exotic fruit, ready to be rediscovered, as they definitely were this year. Legend has it that these deeply lobed yellow fall fruits were Eve’s original temptation in the Garden of Eden. That might be so, based on their incredible fragrance. But we don’t think Adam took a bite and was seduced forever: A raw quince would’ve sent civilization in quite a different direction, with its mouth-puckering fierceness.
Quinces need cooking to bring out their seductive flavor, which is somewhere between pear and apple, with another sharp but indefinable taste that seems to come from their wild heritage. But once you have the taste, you’re hooked – every fall you’ll be looking for our quinces, most reliably found at the farmers’ market or an Asian market. A bowl of quinces brings an exotic aroma to the whole house; a lone quince on the shelf will perfume your closet.
The only problem is how to crack these hardest of fruits. We suggest a Chinese cleaver – or don’t cut them at all until they’re cooked; they’ll have more flavor that way.
This heavenly dish of poached quinces from four-star Philadelphia chef Aliza Green accents their natural tartness and fragrance with lemon and spices, including a whole vanilla bean. You’ll have leftover poaching liquid; reduce it into a delectable syrup, or even further and you’ll have a wonderful quince jelly to serve on crackers with cheese or for breakfast toast.”
- 2 cups water, or more if needed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 6 large fragrant quinces, such as Smyrnas
In a large nonreactive pot, combine everything but the quinces. Stir and bring to a boil. Peel the skin off the quinces. Slice them on half (preferably with a Chinese cleaver), then in quarters. Cut out the seeds, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.
Place the quinces in the syrup and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and poach gently until the quinces are tender when pierced with a skewer, 15 minutes to nearly 1 hour. You may need to add more water. The quinces will be rosy when they’re done. Let cool in the syrup and serve alone or with a cheese course.
Peanut soup appears on the menu in many African countries. This smooth, creamy version thickened with both peanuts and peanut butter gets its sweetness from yam. A warm reddish brown, the soup is fragrant with sweet spices, intensely flavored, earthy and piquant. Europeans brought peanuts from South America to Africa in the early 1500’s where they caught on quickly because of their similarity to the native African bambarra groundnut. In the U.S. it has become traditional to serve this soup when celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa. Substitute vegetable stock for a deliciously rich vegetarian soup.
Serving Size: 8
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon each: chopped garlic and
- ginger root
- 2 teaspoons each: ground cumin and ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch each: ground cloves and cayenne pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can chopped plum tomatoes, or 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes
- 2 large yams, peeled and cut-up
- 3/4 cup roasted peanuts
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock), simmering
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: diced fresh tomato, cilantro sprigs, and chopped roasted peanuts
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne. Sauté together 2 to 3 minutes to release their fragrance. Stir in the tomatoes and yam, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes to meld the flavors.
Add the hot stock and peanuts, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter and chopped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and heat through. Top each serving with the (optional) garnishes. Serve piping hot.
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Caponata is a traditional Sicilian relish with a long, rich history that originated with the fisherman’s caponata alla marinara, made with seafood. These days, caponata is usually made with eggplant. Sicily’s cuisine is a fascinating mélange of Italian, Arab and Spanish culinary traditions, closely linked to local crops like the eggplant featured here. Caponata recipes abound and the dish may be varied almost endlessly with such additions as toasted pine nuts or almonds, artichokes, cooked egg slices, orange juice, anchovies, basil, and even bitter chocolate. Sicilian restaurants sometimes add swordfish, shrimp, or baby octopus and top it with shaved bottarga (dried, salted and pressed tuna roe). Caponata gets its typical sweet and sour flavor from a little sugar mixed with red wine vinegar. The caponata will keep up to ten days, refrigerated, but should be brought back to room temperature for best flavor.
Serving Size: 1 Quart
- 2 large eggplants, unpeeled
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 3 to 4 ribs celery, diced
- 1 (15-ounce) box Pomi (asceptic box packed diced tomatoes) or canned plum tomatoes diced and mixed with liquid from can
- ¾ cup sliced green olives
- ¼ cup drained capers
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°. Cut eggplant into 1-inch dice. Toss with 6 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread onto a baking pan. Roast about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is browned and soft.
Meanwhile, combine onions, red and yellow peppers and celery. Sauté in a large skillet in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil till crisp tender.
Separately, combine tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add to sautéed vegetables. Stir in roasted eggplant. Bring to the boil and simmer together about 15 minutes or until thickened. Cool and then stir in parsley and marjoram. Serve at room temperature on Crostini.
(from Starting with Ingredients)