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Tomato, zucchini, goat cheese and thyme tart recipe

Any recipe that uses up a good amount of veggies is a hit with me. I tend to go overboard at the farmers market — this time of year everything looks so delicious! — but it’s important not to let food go to waste. According to a Guardian report, roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away amounting to $1,600 in annual food waste for every family of four. With this staggering number in mind, I’ve made it a point recently to keep recipes on hand that use unusual vegetables, vegetables in bulk, or difficult herbs sometimes delivered in the CSA. Juices and stews are great for this task, but sometimes your veggies are just too darn pretty to hide. Tarts and galettes are a great option for showcasing those shiny vegetables, while also allowing plenty of space for layering and packing in leftover produce. You could easily throw in another layer of zucchini to…

Caprese garlic bread, a can’t miss

Garlic bread and sauce can be a meal in my house. But what do you do to give an upgrade to this basic bread staple? Add melty mozzarella, fresh sliced tomatoes and green basil, of course. Serve as a side with pasta, or eat all on its own. Caprese Garlic Bread Serves 6-8  Ingredients 1 loaf Italian bread, halved 1 stick butter, softened 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella 2 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4 cup balsamic reduction 6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced Himalayan cooking and table salt Directions  Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium bowl, add butter, garlic and salt. Mash together until soft and blended. Spread mixture on both halves of bread. Place bread halves on a baking sheet, and bake about 15 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted and just barely brown. Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella over both halves of the loaf. Top with tomato slices, and bake…

Fresh and easy summer tomato, peach, jalapeño gazpacho

If you’re expecting an abundance of tomatoes, let me suggest an easy way to them up: gazpacho. Gazpacho is a traditional dish from the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Cities in the area, including Córdoba and Seville, average summer temperatures nearing 100ºF, so it’s no wonder locals have their pulse on what makes a refreshing but nutritious summer meal. Unappetizingly, the vegetable-based, soup-like dish is sometimes referred to as a “liquid salad” or “cold soup” — but don’t let that scare you. The flavors fall somewhere between tangy vegetable juice, veggie soup and Mexican salsa, but it’s a unique dish all on its own, that in no way begs to be warmed. When your fruit baskets start filling with an excess tomato crop, try whipping up a batch of gazpacho and serving with a loaf of garlic bread. You’ll keep yourself, or your family, full, cool and satisfied. Summer tomato, peach,…

Book Review: Canning goes Back to Basics for beginners

This time of year always seems to turn in to a game of pass the produce. Your neighbor has too many tomatoes. Your friend gets extra cucumbers in her CSA. And every week, your co-worker tries to pawn off a basket of his peppers. There are worse problems to have. This year, instead of saying no — or continuing to pass the goods down the line to other friends — pick up a new skill for this plethora of produce, and learn to can. Canning is the next natural extension of our increasing national awareness of eating fresh, healthy and local. Grandma knew canning could feed her family healthy meals all year long, and what’s old usually becomes new again. Canning — much like knitting (can you believe it?) — is back on the scene. But between tools, temperatures and safety measures, the age-old practice can leave first-timers at a loss (and wishing Grandma was still…

Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Tortellini with creamy spinach and cheese sauce

It’s a classic combo that never disappoints: Sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, basil, garlic and fresh mozzarella. This modern variation on those Old-World flavors is easy to make, but tastes like something you would order at your favorite Italian restaurant. Be sure to serve with some slices of crusty bread to soak up the creamy mozzarella sauce. The fresher the ingredients, the better your dish will be. Since it’s summer, definitely go for fresh basil — maybe grown in your own yard. And pro tip: always spring for fresh cheeses, particularly parmesan. Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Tortellini with creamy spinach and cheese sauce Serves 3-4: 30 minutes Ingredients 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes separated from oil (I like to visit my local grocer’s antipasto bar for freshness) 2-3 tbsp oil (drained from sun dried tomatoes, see above) 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced 2 big handfuls of spinach (about 3-4 ounces) 1 and 1/4 cup half and half…

Make your own caribbean inspired seasoning for this tropical summer feast

Once you make your own spice blends, you’ll never go back. This seared tuna recipe couples sweet, tropical spices with savory herbs and just enough heat. The best thing about making your own spices is that you know exactly what you’re eating. (Where do all of those ingredients in McCormick’s come from anyway?) If that’s not convincing enough, you’ll be surprised how much better it tastes than pre-mixed spices off of the store shelf. If that’s still not enough, know that you can save tons of cash by making your own — spice mixes can be expensive! Give it a try by starting with this delicious Caribbean inspired jerk blend. Smother your favorite seared fish in the seasoning, top with pineapple salsa and serve with coconut rice for a summer celebration at home inspired by the flavors of the crystal blue waters and tropical tastes off of our southern shores. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe Ingredients 2-3 tbsp coconut…

History of Mexican Salsa

Salsa has been around for thousands of years. Its history can be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas who used various combinations of chilies, tomatoes and other spices as a type of condiment atop turkey, venison, lobster and fish to give their food more flavor. Salsa didn’t spread outside of Central American cuisine until the Spaniards arrived and conquered Mexico — between 1519 and 1921. Even then, the tomato-based condiment didn’t have a commonplace name. It wasn’t until 50 years later, in 1571, that a Spanish priest, missionary, and grammarian gave it the simple name salsa. Directly translated from Spanish, “salsa” simply means “sauce.” Today, salsa is a mix of Old World and New World ingredients. The tomatoes, tomatillos, and chillies are native to the Western Hemisphere, while many of the added spices such as onions and garlic have Old World origins. An increase in the popularity of spicy foods…

VIDEO: Squid ink fettuccini with shrimp and cherry tomatoes recipe

No matter what age you are, you should never be afraid to tackle a new ingredient, and squid ink pasta is a safe place to start expanding your repertoire. Squid ink dishes are having a moment in the culinary world, mostly for their striking color and extra dimension of flavor. But despite the strong color, the noodles have a surprisingly neutral flavor; slightly saltier than standard egg noodles. Some varieties claim to have a faint hint of seafood flavor, as well. Squid ink refers to the black, cloudy liquid that cephalopods  — such as squid, cuttlefish or octopus — release as a defense mechanism when being chased by a predator. It has deep pigmentation caused by melanin, a common organic pigment found in plants and animals. If you’re making your own noodles, remember, a little of this richly colored condiment goes a long way. Squid ink is most popular in Italian and Spanish cooking, but it’s memorable…

Pineapple Guacamole Recipe

Sometimes all you want for dinner is a big bowl of guacamole — Let’s be honest. We’ve all had meals much worse than that! Avocados and pineapple are two of my favorite ingredients, so it only seemed natural to put them together to create one of my other favorite foods — guacamole. The sweetness of the pineapple pairs perfectly with the not-so-subtle jolt of heat from the jalapeño. Scoop this sweet, spicy, creamy, slightly crunchy (onion) combination onto a blue corn tortilla chip for a picture perfect bite.. I must admit, I came across this idea at a local restaurant that had a variation of a pineapple, bacon guac on the appetizers menu. I’m not much of a bacon fan, but if that’s you, feel free to crumble up some slices and sprinkle on top. Otherwise, this recipe is vegan and will only take you about 10 minutes Ingredients: 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted 1 jalapeno,…