Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup (4)

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I am excited about this soup as it really has a deep tomato flavor. It is made with canned fire roasted tomatoes (so often it is difficult to find really ripe, juicy and tasty tomatoes otherwise I would have used them) and sun-dried tomatoes. I substituted roast garlic instead of the usual chopped garlic. Roasted garlic is much less intense and sweeter. Each clove turns to a paste in the roasting process.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

TO ROAST THE GARLIC

1 head of garlic

1 tsp. of olive oil

Cut the top of the garlic head off so that you can see the individual cloves. If there are some cloves that are smaller and clustered towards the bottom of the head you can cut their tops off individually.

Remove the outer layer(s) of skin.

Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and slowly pour 1 tsp.  of oil over the cloves making sure each one is covered or brush them with a basting  brush.

Wrap up the foil and place in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, let cook slightly then remove the garlic from the clove with the end of a teaspoon and set aside until needed.

FOR THE SOUP (MINUS ROASTED GARLIC)

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – finely chopped

2 x 14.5 oz. cans diced and fire roasted tomatoes

2 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes – cut into little pieces

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 tbsp. fresh basil plus a little extra for garnish – cut into fine strips

4 cups chicken/veg. broth

Heat the seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and slightly brown.

Then add the roasted garlic, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, basil and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in a food processor or use a hand held blender.

Serve in individual soup bowls garnished with fresh basil.

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Red Peppers Stuffed with a Tomato Mixture and Topped with Griddled Halloumi Cheese (4)

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Rather a mouthful of a title but an apt description of the recipe. The red peppers are roasted in the oven and during that time the tomato mixture is cooked on the top of the stove in a skillet and the halloumi cheese is prepared, if possible, on a ridged frying pan which gives the cheese a nice striped look. When all three components are ready it is time to assemble the dish. Spoon the tomato sauce into the red pepper half and top with the griddled halloumi cheese (I can tolerate sheep’s halloumi cheese, if you can’t then omit). Can be a side dish or a vegetarian main.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 red peppers – halved lengthways, de-seeded and de-membraned, brushed inside and out with olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound of ripe tomatoes – skinned

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 tbsp. fresh basil – finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh oregano – finely chopped

4 slices of Halloumi cheese

Place the red peppers in the oven on a baking tray for 3/4 hour until tender .

While peppers are cooking, boil kettle of water and pour over the tomatoes. Leave for a minute and slit skin with a knife (it should curl up and then you know it is ready to peel).

When peeled, dice the tomatoes.

Ten minutes before the peppers are done place seasoned oil in a skillet and when nicely hot add the garlic and cook just until you can smell the garlic.

Add tomatoes and herbs and let simmer until peppers come out of the oven.

At the same time place the slices of halloumi cheese on a hot griddled pan and cook for a short time on each side until you have nice brown griddle marks.

Divide tomato mixture up between the four pepper halves and top with a slice of halloumi.

Serve immediately.

Jo’s Feta Pesto

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Pesto has been off my menu for several years but since I have recently found I can eat sheep/goat cheese happily because no cow milk is involved, I have been experimenting. I made this pesto and spooned it over baby new potatoes accompanied by thin slices of flank steak and, honestly, it was delicious.

2 cups basil leaves

2 large cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

2 oz. feta cheese – roughly chopped

1 1/2 oz. pine nuts

1 1/2 oz. chopped walnuts

1/2 cup olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper (no salt needed because of saltiness of feta cheese)

Place basil, garlic, feta, pine nuts and walnuts in a food processor.

Turn on food processor and add the oil gradually. Process until mixture is smoothish.

Season with pepper.