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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Prosciutto and Blueberry Salad Sprinkled with Nuts (serves 4)

Prosciutto and Blueberry Salad with Sprinkled Nuts (serves 4)

Based this on a great little salad I had in Covent Garden, London recently. I wandered into a small French restaurant and found that there was little to eat (for me) on the menu so I was on my way out when the waitress said they could accommodate my needs so I stayed (and they did a wonderful job and I was so grateful).

Take some lettuce/baby spinach/mixed leaves.

Tear up some prosciutto (or not if you want vegetarian/vegan)

Cut some baby tomatoes into quarters

A few sun-dried tomatoes cut into little pieces

Take a handful of blueberries

Crush some walnuts

Make a balsamic dressing – 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp. extra  virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place everything in a salad bowl and toss well with balsamic vinaigrette.

Jo’s Baked Beans (serves 4)

Jo’s Baked Beans (serves 4)

Most baked beans contain a lot of sugar – in a can or homemade. Unaware of this, in the past I would have them on toast or in a full English Breakfast (even, to be honest, straight out of the can!). Have experimented with making them myself and the first time they were good but not good enough. But I now have a recipe that I can share!

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x good size onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
1 x 26.46 oz carton strained tomatoes (Pomi brand)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 x 15.8 oz cans of cannellini beans
4 sun-dried tomato pieces – finely chopped
1 tbsp. harissa paste

Heat oil in cast iron and when sizzling, add onion and garlic.
When softened and a little browned, add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower ‘Steak’ with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Topping (serves 4)

Roasted Cauliflower ‘Steak’ with Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Topping (serves 4)

Was having lunch with a friend and I ordered Cauliflower ‘Steak’ with other veg and quinoa. When it came, my friend, said ‘Why have I never cooked it that way – usually I cut it into florets?’ Me, the same. So, off I went to get a cauliflower, slice it, roast it and them come up with a tasty idea meantime to make the cauliflower into a meal/side dish. I thought olive tapenade would give it a good flavor and then how about adding some sun-dried tomatoes mixed with Harissa paste? It is deeelicious! Bonus – there will be enough cauliflower and tapenade left over for hors d’oeuvres. My tapenade recipe is listed in this blog.

1 x large cauliflower – trimmed and cut into slices
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tapenade
1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil cut into small pieces + 1/2 tbsp. harissa paste – mixed together

Drizzle cauliflower with seasoned oil and roast for 20 – 30 mins. depending on size of cauliflower.
Let cool.
Spread each ‘steak’ with a layer of tapenade and top with the tomato harissa paste mixture.

Tomato Sauce With a Kick (serves 4)

Tomato Sauce With a Kick (serves 4)

The kick comes from ginger and red pepper flakes and maybe the red wine (which was idly standing by!). This sauce is thick and chunky. I increased the tomato flavor by adding tomato paste and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Would be good with chicken, pork tenderloin or you could add ground beef to it to make a spicy Bolognese. Might be good with a firm white fish. Probably could puree it and add a little stock to make a warming soup. I used Muir Glen organic crushed and fire-roasted tomatoes and the can was BPA free (something I have now added to my list of things I check when I go to the supermarket).

**Little known food fact**
The ‘Jolly Green Giant’ veggies are actually grown in China. Now, I don’t know about you, but I am suspicious of how they grow their foods and their industry standards, therefore I will be supporting Bird’s Eye.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
2 tbsp. (about 2 inches) ginger – finely grated
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 x 28 oz. Muir Glen Organic Crushed and Fire-Roasted tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste (Cento Double Concentrated brand)
2 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes – chopped
1/2 cup red wine

Heat seasoned oil in cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onion and garlic.
When softened a bit add grated ginger and red pepper flakes and stir from time to time.
When onions are softened, add tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and red wine.
Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

Quinoa Salad with Chicken and More (serves 4)

recipe photo 22Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Chickpeas and More (serves 4)

I am taking this with me on the plane as I have to be really careful with airline food to avoid mid-air disaster! I mixed quinoa with slices of chicken tenders and then added chopped red onion, black and green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro and a can of chickpeas – lots of different flavors and textures. Then I mixed in a lemon garlic vinaigrette. Leave out the chicken and you have a very nice vegetarian/vegan salad.

6 x chicken tenders – cooked and sliced
2 cups boiling water
1 cup quinoa
1 can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
1/2 a small red onion – chopped
2 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil – roughly chopped
2 tbsp. black and green olives – pitted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro – finely chopped
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Cook chicken tenders and slice when cool.
Cook quinoa in boiling water until all water is absorbed.
When quinoa and chicken are cooled add red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and cilantro.
In a jar mix lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and give jar a good shake to emulsify the dressing.
Pour over salad and serve.

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup and Carrot, Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Puree

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup and Carrot, Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Puree (serves 4)

One recipe led to another, so the original base is the same and then one becomes a soup and the other a puree which serves as a side dish. I love it when you can make two things with one recipe.

1 1/2 pounds carrots – sliced in food processor

1/2 cup roasted red peppers –  I used Flora brand

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes

 

Cook carrots in boiling water in a covered pan for 10 minutes or so, until tender.

Put olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper in food processor.

Add carrots, red pepper, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes and process.

 

At this point divide the mixture – 1/3 and 2/3.

Keep 1/3 in the food processor and add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.

Now you have soup.

 

Put the 2/3 mixture in a food processor and add 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and process.

Now you have a puree which goes nicely with chicken