Tag Archives: tomatoes

Recipe: Jacket Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian Chilli and Guacamole

I have no idea when I will escape this food blog hiatus!  Even when I make and photograph food, there never seems to be time to write about it – and most of the food I’ve been making this year has fallen into the category if quick and simple.  And they tend to rely pretty heavily on Gewürzhaus spice mixes, which isn’t so helpful for recording them here.

I’m very fond of jacket sweet potatoes.  Actually, I’m very fond of jacket potatoes, but my husband has an unnatural dislike of them, and sweet potatoes are better for you anyway, so that’s how it goes.  If I ever manage to achieve regular writing on this blog, you can expect a fair number of jacket sweet potato recipes going forward, as they are becoming a bit of a winter staple…

This particular recipe, though, I’ve made a few times recently.  It’s a nice, healthy, vegan dinner that is straightforward enough for a Friday night at the end of a long week.  It wasn’t vegan on purpose, which is one reason it is so good, I suspect – I always get the cheese out, but never seem to use it, and when I made a point of using it once, it didn’t taste as good.  So this is a meal that really wants to be vegan!  It also happens to be gluten free and low-GI, and reasonably healthy, and tastes lovely and fresh and comforting, which makes it a much better alternative to the Friday night takeaway which was becoming a habit.

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3 medium sweet potatoes (I know that’s vague, but aim for a similar sort of weight to what you’d do for an ordinary jacket potato meal)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, brown or red
1-2 tsp cajun spice mix, or a mixture of cumin, oregano, garlic, paprika and chilli
1 tin of black beans, drained (these are suddenly available at the supermarket!  Yay!  But if you can’t find them, red kidney beans also work)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder, or to taste
a little salt (lime salt is great if you have it)
2 spring onions (the long, thin ones that also get called shallots)
2 roma tomatoes
juice of one lemon or one lime (I almost never have limes, lemons do nicely)
2 tsp Gewürzhaus Guacamole Spice, if you have it, but failing that, a mixture of salt, cumin and chilli will do – probably a teaspoon in total will be fine.
2 avocadoes
chopped coriander, optional

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Recipe: Super Easy Tomato Soup

Hello!  It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?  Sorry about that.  I got back from overseas, and dove straight into election mode, which meant a heap of work on my politics blog, and then I slept for several days, and then I went back to work, and then I got sort of low level sick for about a week and a half and then horrible things happened around the world and I got depressed about it, and then I had fiction writing to do, and then it was suddenly August.  I shall try not to go on such a prolonged hiatus again, but I make no promises – politics happens, work never stops happening, and I’m really enjoying writing fiction on my Stories Under Paris site at the moment, more than I’ve enjoyed writing anything for years, so a lot of my energy will be focused there.  I’m trying to reduce my hours at work, which should help a little, and I want to use some of the time I recapture to work on a cookbook, but I have to do things that aren’t writing sometimes, too, especially as my wrist is still not great…

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of very easy cooking recently, and I’ve made this soup a couple of times (without once managing to photograph it, alas), and really like it.  I’m not going to claim that it is a work of genius, and it does rely rather on things from the pantry, but it’s a tasty soup for a winter night, especially when served with a toasted jarlsberg cheese sandwich.  I like the combination of tomato flavours from passata, chopped tomatoes and freshly roasted ones – I think you get an interesting balance of tomatoishness from the different treatments the tomatoes have received.  (But mostly I like it because it feels like a healthier version of my childhood comfort food of Campbells Tomato Soup from a tin…)

Your Shopping List

1 kg roma tomatoes
1 red onion
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegarolive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
1 bottle (500-700ml) passata

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Recipe: Scrambled Tofu with Cajun Spices

Three quarters of the way through the month and it’s probably time I actually created a recipe for my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge.  And in fact, I did create this recipe, several days ago – I’m just having trouble getting around to posting it. I’m running a big event at work next week and am being a bit overwhelmed not so much by the workload as by the slightly terrifying levels of enthusiasm and competitiveness being demonstrated by those around me. 

The number of questions I’ve been getting about exactly how things will work and precisely how I will prevent cheating – including the Graphics department expressing an alarming level of concern about people forging voting tokens (and I’m not at *all* worried that it’s the people who design all the images, drawings, posters etc who have forgery on their minds…) is… well, let’s just say that I’m beginning to wonder if my trust in my colleagues is misplaced and I should be appointing scrutineers.  And maybe the Electoral Commission, to supervise.

(Still, given that my biggest worry a few weeks ago was that nobody would participate, overwhelming enthusiasm is a fairly nice problem to have.  I am beginning to feel a little bit like a kindergarten teacher, however.)

Anyway.  This is indeed a lovely, quick recipe to make – and it’s tofu, which is a product I’m normally terrified of, so it’s slightly amazing, even to me, that this recipe has been getting onto my weeknight roster.  To me, this tastes like a nice, spicy version of scrambled eggs.  (Andrew tells me it tastes nothing like scrambled eggs. He’s wrong, but since he hates eggs, and likes this recipe, I’m not going to complain…)  Like scrambled eggs, it’s a good, fast recipe to put together on a hot day.

I like to serve this with corn chips, which saves any extra cooking and is also yummy.  But it’s pretty nice on it’s own, or you could stuff it into a burrito for a vegan version of breakfast burritos…

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Your shopping list

250 g soft tofu
4 spring onions (scallions)
2 capsicums, one red and one green
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, or 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
½ tsp turmeric
250 g cherry tomatoes
small handful of fresh coriander (optional – leave it out if you hate coriander)
½ cup grated cheese or vegan cheeze (cheddar, mozzarella, or a combination of cheeses)
corn chips or bread to serve

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Recipe: Six-ingredient Chilli

I’m afraid there are no photos to go with this recipe, because I made it when I was very, very tired and couldn’t face cooking – and so I didn’t think to photograph it.  Which is a pity, because it’s a nice, tasty recipe for a tired night.  And vegan, too!  (Until you cover it with cheese, like I did…)

Your Shopping List

1 brown onion
1-2 tbsp chilli con carne, guacamole, mole, or other similar Mexican spice mix.  This is a recipe for a tired night, you don’t have to come up with your own mix, but do make sure this contains both cumin and chilli.
2 chipotle chillis in adobo
1 -2 large sweet potatoes (around 800 g in total)
2 x 400 g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400 g tins black beans

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Recipe: Accidental Arrabbiatta Pasta

This is the pasta I made for dinner while staying with R in Bergen.  It was actually really lovely, just a lot spicier than I intended so it seemed worth recording.  Alas, I have no photographs of this recipe, but I figure that anyone reading this blog is probably getting more than enough photos at present, what with farmers’ markets and endless Travel Diary posts, so I hope you can survive without.

What makes this sauce good, in my view, is the combination of cooked tomatoes and fresh, uncooked tomatoes.  I was aiming for an even brighter combination with some sun dried tomato paste as well, but the tomato paste turned out to be chillis in disguise (yes, I probably should have noticed this, but I was so excited to be in a kitchen.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled.  And I cook by smell, not taste…), so if you don’t like spicy sauces, give that a try instead.  It will taste fantastic either way.

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Your Shopping List

olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano
7 big tomatoes, preferably all in different colours
300g assorted cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp preserved chopped chilli in oil (it’s not quite a paste, and not chunks in oil, either – but it’s very, very finely chopped chilli and there is definitely olive oil. You will know it when you see it)
1 tin chickpeas
350 g penne pasta
parmesan, to serve

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Living Below the Line: Penne with Spicy Tomato, Cauliflower and Chickpea Sauce

Look!  I actually managed to create something that tasted good!  It’s amazing how much better food tastes when you manage to avoid the ubiquitous frozen vegetables (note to self: cheap frozen vegetables have absolutely no taste and should be used as a bulk ingredient only – not a flavour one!), when you have just a bit of cooking fat, and when you get to use garlic and chilli at the same time.  Incidentally, I think chilli would be my secret weapon if I were living on a very low budget full time – it’s so incredibly cheap, and provides a good kick of flavour that is sadly lacking from a lot of this food.

While this dish really would be improved by a bit of parmesan, some olive oil, and just better seasoning all around, it’s actually quite fine as it is.  I will probably make this again, and there’s really not much I would change.

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Your Shopping List

skin from one chicken wing (or olive oil, if you are not living below the line)
175 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 red chilli (2 if you can!)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, sliced
1 1/2 tins of chopped tomatoes (600g in total)
1 cup of water
salt
3/4 of a cauliflower
450 g pasta

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Living Below the Line: Ribollita (sort of)

Another day, another recipe, and a quick note.  I know that there are cookbooks out there telling people how to live on very little.  Some of them are more useful than others – I think my favourite is written by Sandra of the $120 food challenge blog, because she has actually been living on a tiny income while writing these recipes, rather than doing the thing where you opine from on high about what those who are less well off should be eating.

I’m posting these recipes for two reasons.  The first reason is that they are a record of what I’m doing, and several of my sponsors (sponsor me!) have asked me to do so, because they are curious about what I’m cooking.  The second reason is that some of them have worked out reasonably tasty and could, with a bit of tweaking (and a bit more money) go into my regular repertoire.  But there’s one thing I haven’t told you about these recipes.

I’m hungry.  All the time.  Even right after lunch or dinner.

Part of this is psychological, I think – I really am very afraid of being without food, and I find myself counting the hours until the next meal, so I’m fairly sure that my brain is telling my body it’s hungry even when it isn’t.  But part of it is that, really, even with all the legumes and carbohydrates and protein I’ve tried to stuff into them, these meals just aren’t as filling as what I’m used to.  The portion sizes are fairly small.  One can survive on them, but I don’t know whether one could live on them in the long term.

What I don’t want is for anyone (especially anyone in the current government, quite frankly) to look at these recipes and think, these look pretty good, obviously living on $2 is easy.

It’s not.  Some of these recipes are quite good – this one, for example, is actually pretty tasty, and I’m quite impressed at how much chickeny flavour a single chicken wing can infuse into a soup.  It just needs a bit of cheese to be perfect, sigh.  But divide it into six servings, and it’s a lot less filling than you might think.

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Your Shopping List

175 g borlotti beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 brown onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary
8 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1 chicken wing (skin removed and used for schmalz, if you are feeling dedicated)
2 litres of water
1/2 tsp salt, lovely lovely salt!
200ml tinned tomatoes
stalks and leaves from 1 large beetroot
1 potato, diced
2 bread crusts, torn into small pieces
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

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Recipe: End of Summer Harvest Polenta

My garden is almost ready to bed down for the winter.  The zucchini, pumpkin and melon vines have shrivelled to nothing, the rocket has bolted, and this evening I went out to pull up my basil plants, pick the last of my tomatoes, and harvest a final handful of tiny capsicums, and five corn cobs ranging in size from medium-small to positively miniature.

Last harvest of the summer

Last harvest of the summer

If I have time in between my intensive Easter singing schedule (new personal best this year, with five services over four days, not counting Palm Sunday services and the Saint Matthew’s Passion I’m singing in on April 5-6), it will soon be time to weed and dig and compost and maybe put in some winter vegetables that will give nutrients back to the ground.

But in the meantime, it’s time to celebrate the dying summer with this beautiful feast from my garden! 

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This polenta has it all – it’s soft and creamy, with a little crunch from the fresh corn and plenty of smokey heat from the chipotle pepper (it’s smokey outside, too, which is probably why chipotle pepper seemed so irresistible to me).  To accompany it, I’ve slow-roasted my tomato harvest, turned my basil and parsley into a creamy purée with cannelini beans, olive oil and lemon juice, and sautéed up a lot of capsicums and onions to add some crunch.

Gorgeous.

Also, a quick announcement before I give you the recipe itself – as you may have gathered, I will be singing the Saint Matthew Passion with the Melbourne Bach Choir at the start of April.  It’s going to be a rather gorgeous – and enormous! – performance, with three large choirs (I’m in Choir 2, which spends a lot of time interjecting with questions and interrupting arias with gratuitous chorales and choruses), an orchestra, and six soloists.  If you like serious Baroque Oratorio, I recommend it (and you can buy tickets here). 

Anyway, the unfortunate side-effect of all this glorious music is that I will be out at rehearsals every night next week until quite late… which means I am unlikely to be cooking *or* blogging much over the next ten days or so.  I shall try to pop in to say hello, but if I don’t, you know why…

Your Shopping List

For the tomatoes
600 g tomatoes, preferably randomly sized and coloured and from your garden!
olive oil
salt, pepper

For the polenta

1 cup polenta
4 cups water
salt, pepper
1 chipotle chilli in adobo
150 g fresh corn kernels
25 g butter
1/3 cup cheese
For the puree
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
400g tinned cannelini beans, drained
50 g pistachios
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
For the rest
olive oil
2 onions
6 long sweet peppers, multicoloured

 

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Recipe: Stuffed zucchini on roasted tomatoes

I was originally going to post this to my Tomatoes challenge, but then grant season got the better of me and nothing happened at all.  And now I have a Tofu challenge in play, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with that.  But right now, I’m working on the backlog of recipes that I created and scribbled down onto random pieces of paper in February (in fact, what I scribble down is a list of ingredients and quantities, trusting myself to remember the method, which is a bit of a gamble if the piece of paper then gets knocked off the desk by a cat, and batted under a couch, and then only found many weeks later), since this blog has been very nearly a recipre-free zone of late.

Anyway.  Zucchini flower season is almost over for us in Australia, but for once, I can give the Europeans and Americans a thrill by posting something that is about to come into season for a change!  I am constitutionally incapable of not buying zucchini flowers when I see them, which means that I then have to instantly re-jig any menu plans I’ve made, as zucchini flowers must be used the day you buy them, or at the very most, the day after.  In all probability, there are better ways to cook them – in fact, I am constantly being exhorted by farmers to try deep-frying them, stuffed or un-stuffed, in tempura batter, but since deep-frying is the one un-healthy culinary habit that I do not have, I am reluctant to learn it, even if tempura zucchini flowers does sound amazing.  God, that sentence was dreadful.  Sorry. 

Anyway, since I eschew the deep-fryer, my preferred option for zucchini flowers has always been to stuff them with a herby spinach and ricotta mix, and then bake them either in a simple tomato sauce or on a bed of roasting tomatoes. So far, nobody has complained at the lack of deep-frying, so here, for your delectation, is the recipe I normally use.  I apologise for the poor photographs – the light in my kitchen isn’t very good for photography.  I promise you, these zucchini flowers taste amazing, however they may look in these photos.

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Your Shopping List

12 zucchini flowers, preferable with the little zucchini still attached
1 kg assorted beautiful tomatoes
salt, pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
olive oil
2 tsp vinegar
oregano, to taste
150 g frozen spinach, defrosted (or a bunch of fresh)
300 g ricotta
50 g parmesan
a handful each of mint and basil leaves, chopped finely
nutmeg, pepper
1 egg
 
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Recipe: Gnocchi with Broccoli pesto and Tomatoes two ways

Ooh, tomatoes two ways.  So MasterChef, don’t you think?  But one of the points of this recipe really is that one gets to treat the tomatoes essentially as two separate ingredients with separate tastes – the slow-roasted tomatoes (and yes, I know I’m obsessed with these at present) are sweet and deep in flavour, and raw tomatoes are fresh and light and a bit more acidic.  Yum.  As a bonus, you get to use up some of the zucchini which are hopefully taking over your garden in tandem with the tomatoes.  Mine aren’t actually taking over yet, but I live in hope.  And I do seem to be nicely off for zucchinis at present.

And then you top the whole glorious thing off with a big glob (or quenelle, if you are feeling fancy) of broccoli pesto, which has the quadruple advantage of looking good, tasting excellent, adding a bit of protein to your life, and, best of all, not needing to be stirred through the pasta!  (Seriously, has anyone ever achieved a home-made pesto which was actually sufficiently non-solid in texture that it didn’t destroy the pasta or else just sit there in petulant little clumps, mocking you for attempting to stir it through?)

It’s good stuff.

This recipe turns out to serve three people, with rather a lot of pesto left over.  Such a shame – you’ll have to have the reset of it on your beetroot gnocchi tomorrow night…

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Your shopping list

450 g cherry tomatoes, preferably from your garden and in assorted colours
5 big roma tomatoes
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 head of broccoli
50 g pine nuts
25 g pistachios
115 g basil puree from a tube
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50 g parmesan
500 g gnocchi
4 zucchini, any kind

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