You say To-May-Toe, but my To-Mah-Toes are terrific

IMG_4413One of my guidelines for food, work, and life is finding ways not to be negative. If you focus on all that you cannot do, then the negative attitude will follow you around. So whenever I engage in a new venture – diet, relationship, job – I try to focus on what will be positive about it (and not what I can try to change). If the negatives outweigh the pluses, then it is time to take a pass or move on.

Engaging in the Whole30 meant I could focus on all the foods I couldn’t eat – and the list was quite extensive – or what I could. I chose to focus on what I could enjoy. With summer’s bounty ripening outside my doorstep and around Erie County, Pennsylvania, every day, I had plenty of choices. Plus, this supports my choice to eat local and support local farmers.

I’m not going to lie and insist a peach or slice of melon is as satisfying as a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day. But the peach or melon doesn’t carry the baggage of guilt and the accompanying bloating. And an RX chocolate bar isn’t the same as a homemade brownie, but it will do in a pinch. Plus, I’m notorious for cutting off all the edges and eating them – pretending that I really haven’t even had a “real” brownie.

Hah.

The goal, also, wasn’t to make one dinner for me and one for my daughter each night. I don’t think you can ever be successful making a lovely meal for some of the family and then serving yourself something that isn’t as pleasing. Some nights I may have had sausage and homemade tomato sauce with a side of roasted eggplant, while my daughter had the sausage and sauce over pasta.

My homemade roasted tomato sauce is doing many duties. It can become plain sauce, soup, or get jazzed up with add-ins, such as onions, capers, raisins and mint to make a divine sauce for fish or chicken. You can also freeze it and use it in the dead of winter.

Print Recipe
Roasted Tomato Sauce
This versatile sauce can be used alone or combined with other ingredients to make a more elaborate sauce or a simple soup.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half. Put into 2 9x13-inch baking dishes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and herbs.
  3. Bake for about 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to make sure they are OK and not cooking too quickly (if you see brown or black, that's your indication). Turn oven to 400 degrees after 2 hours and roast for about 20-30 minutes (check after 20). They should be slightly brown around the edges.
  4. Allow to cool. You have the choice of running them through a food mill, which will remove the skins and seeds. Or, put them in a high-speed blender (I use a Ninja) and puree until smooth.
  5. Add 1 cup chicken broth. Mix well.
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Market Monday: Gazpacho Nights

IMG_4228We are in the full heat of summer, when walking the dog is an early morning and a late evening activity. The rains have taken care of the morning waterings of the garden, which is full of tomatoes and cucumbers. This is the promise that keeps gardeners going through the Ides of March until planting around Memorial Day.

In early summer, when the plants were small and promise was great, the evenings were full of neighborhood families sitting outside under patio lights or burn pits, enjoying the warmth of the season. Laughter would be mixed with the sounds of the frogs and crickets serenading the night. For the past two weeks, the sound of human company on our walks has been replaced with the hum of air conditioners. The frogs and crickets were still going strong, but the click of Bobo’s nails was accompanied by the whir of compressor units. Our walks were no longer at sunset, but more like 10:30 or 11 p.m.

After these walks, the dog naps. Smart dog. I feel like it too, but life gets in the way of a good nap. Plus, there will be plenty of time for that once fall fades into winter. But I’m still feeling quite lazy. Certainly not up to the task of making a grand dinner. Barely up to lighting the grill.

The blender is my friend on nights like this. Into it goes garlic, onion, tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), cucumbers, salt, a dash of vinegar and some V8 Juice. Out comes my version of gazpacho, a lovely summer soup best eaten chilled (but not cold), and drizzled with some olive oil. If you feel the need for some protein, add some lump crab or cooked shrimp. Sometimes I want a little crunch, so I add some croutons. I’ve been known to put in a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s really about what you hanker.

Last night, I wanted nothing more than the fresh taste of the vegetables, so I garnished with nothing more than a swirl of EVOO.

There are lots of varieties in the¬†Spanish gazpacho family: red, white and green. All traditionally have bread, fruits and vegetables, vinegar, and olive oil pureed together. The white involves almonds and grapes. Green is usually herbs. But I’ve also seen it made with green melon, which I may try a little later this summer.

Mine is not a true Spanish gazpacho, but it is my American version fresh from my garden.

I hope you enjoy this taste of summer (and the amazing sunsets still to come).

XOXOXO

Marnie

Print Recipe
Summer Gazpacho
Perfect for summer nights with vegetables fresh from your garden or a farm stand.
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Cuisine American, Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour, chill
Servings
bowls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, pepper, vinegar and V8 to blender.
  2. Blend on high until texture is consistent and to your liking.
  3. Taste. And add salt. Some of this will depend on whether you use V8 or another tomato juice.
  4. Serve in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. you can add shrimp, crab, croutons.
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