Roasted Tomato Soup + Parmesan Croutons

roasted_tomato_soup-1.jpg

Roasted Tomato Soup + Parmesan Croutons. And here comes fall. The weather is in that optimum state between summer and fall. Warm enough for the tomatoes to continue growing but cool enough at night for soup. We have so many tomatoes this year that I’m on roast-tomatoes-repeat-roast-tomatoes-repeat cycle, a few days ago I left a bowl of tomatoes on the counter one day too long, and I was sad to have to toss a few in the compost bin. I’m the kind of person that is just heart broken when good food has to get tossed, so I’m just cooking and refrigerating and freezing whatever I can. It’s too good to waste. This soup worked out great for my waste management worries. It packs in a few pounds of tomatoes into OMG so freakin’ delicious soup. I have confirmation from Jeff that it’s kick-ass. I looked over a couple different recipes so this is sort of a hybrid between Half Baked Harvest and Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club . Half Baked Harvest roasted the tomatoes in the same dutch oven as you make your soup, so this is basically a one pan cooking deal, which I love, but didn’t add stock. So without boring you with every detail I added a bit from each recipe and made it my own. Not too garlicky and not too creamy, and I gotta say this is just an absolutely delicious tomato soup. The parmesan croutons are also outstanding, it makes up for the lack of grilled cheese sandwich, which you won’t miss once you bite into the cheesy crouton. I will most likely be back with more tomato recipes, and, surprisingly, cucumber. I gave the Kirby cucumbers a little plant  food last week, along with the tomatoes, and wow did it like that! Blossoms all over the place and now about 20 cucumbers starting, lol, so yeah, I got that to work with as well. Also the soup bowl you see here is another from Carthage.co, the Dadasi Soup Bowl, I love the organic shape of these dishes.

Enjoy! 

roasted_tomato_soup-2.jpg
roasted_tomato_soup-3.jpg

Roasted Tomato Soup + Parmesan Croutons

  • 3-4 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes, quartered

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 1 small red bell pepper, quartered

  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Add the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic and thyme to large dutch oven (or oven-safe pot). Add the olive oil, a little salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Place in oven uncovered and roast for about 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes start to char a bit. 

Remove from oven and ladle the tomato mixture into a blender, blend until pureed.

Return the tomatoes to the dutch oven then whisk in the chicken stock, tomato paste and milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste, continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with croutons (recipe below) and some fresh herbs, sprinkle a little parmesan cheese if you like.


Parmesan Croutons

  • 2-3 cups bread cubes, baguette or similar

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese

  • A couple sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano

Heat oven to 350°. Cut bread into rough 1” cubes and place in large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, parmesan cheese, fresh chopped herbs, and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Spread a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, tossing midway. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Store in refrigerator if you have leftover.

Grilled Corn and Pepper Salad

grilled_corn_pepper_salad-1.jpg

Grilled Corn and Pepper Salad. I hadn’t planned on posting this but damn, it came out so good I decided to take a few photos and do a blog post. I made this based on what I had on hand and what needed to be eaten pronto! And we’ve had a mini heatwave these past couple days so I wanted to cook as little as possible. I put the corn and peppers on the grill early in the day before it was unbearably hot. I can’t complain though, this summer has been remarkably mild. So salad. There is so much flavor going on in each bite it’s just a complete joy. Make sure to chop the vegetables small, close to the size of corn kernels but they don’t have to be that small. Recipe below, enjoy!

grilled_corn_pepper_salad-2.jpg
grilled_corn_pepper_salad-3.jpg
grilled_corn_pepper_salad-5.jpg

Grilled Corn and Pepper Salad

  • 2 ears of corn, charred

  • 2 bell peppers, charred

  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped small

  • 1 small cucumber (about 1/2 cup chopped small)

  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

  • 3-4 tablespoons Dijon vinaigrette 

Husk the corn and place it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove corn and place on a large dish with the 2 bell peppers. Brush the corn and peppers with avocado oil (or any high heat oil), and sprinkle with salt. Place them on a preheated grill (400°-500°F) for about 15-20 minutes, turning them every once in a while so they char on all sides. Remove vegetables from the grill and place the peppers in a bowl topped with plastic wrap for 15 minutes or so. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, core and seeds, then chop into small pieces. 

Cut the kernels off the corn cob by sliding a knife down the side. When the corn and peppers are completely cooled add them to a large bowl. Add the chili pepper, cucumber, and basil and mix to combine. Add the feta and Dijon dressing along with salt and pepper to taste.

Panzanella

panzanella-1.jpg

Hello tomatoes! Wow it’s been such a cool summer that it has taken a bit longer for them to ripen in the garden, but last week all four plants decided it was time. The yellow Taxi tomatoes along with the Sungold cherry tomatoes were the first on the scene, followed by Black Krim, and lastly the Brandywine. I’ve been wanting to make this Panzanella for a while, and since I had made a loaf of No-Knead bread a couple days prior it worked out great. Most recipes say to put the bread cubes in the oven, but I opted for the skillet which went pretty quick and ya know, fried bread? So good. You could serve this as a side dish or appetizer, or it makes a great vegetarian meal when you want something light. 

And speaking of serving, I received sample dishes from Carthage.co Stoneware which you see here and they are just beautiful! The large white plate is the Dadasi Dinner plate in chalk and the dark bowl is the Zaghwan Soup Bowl in Old Silver. I think they both look great but especially love the Zaghwan bowl with these bright colored tomatoes. And the prices are quite reasonable for high-end ceramic dishes. You can read more about these hand-crafted ceramics here. They have a nice weight to them and they’re a pleasure to photograph. I’ll be back with more tomato and/or zucchini dishes this month. Until then I recommend this Panzanella, enjoy!

panzanella-2.jpg
panzanella-3.jpg
panzanella-4.jpg
panzanella-5.jpg
panzanella-6.jpg
panzanella-7.jpg
panzanella-8.jpg
panzanella-9.jpg
panzanella-11.jpg
panzanella-10.jpg
panzanella-13.jpg
panzanella-12.jpg

Panzanella

  • 3 cups baguette or rustic bread, preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste

  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably a mix of varieties and colors

  • 6 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls (or shredded chunks of fresh mozzarella)

  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

  • Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl mix together the bread cubes with olive oil and salt. Add a bit of olive oil to a  large cast iron skillet and heat on medium, when warm place the cubes in a single layer, tossing as needed until crisp on all sides. When done place the bread cubes on a plate and allow to cool a bit. 

To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the Dijon and vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil.

Cut the tomatoes into chunks and then add them to a large bowl, add the mozzarella, bread cubes and the basil leaves (but leave a few to top the dish), add some salt and pepper and stir gently. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Top with remaining basil leaves. Serve at room temp.

Pickled Kirby Cucumbers

kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-1-2.jpg

This is my favorite time of the year, the garden is in full swing and in addition to tomatoes ripening this week, I have a bunch of these cute Kirby cucumbers. I wanted to pickle them whole but they’re so fat I couldn’t even fit two of them in the mason jar, so I quartered them for this recipe. This version of pickling is the quick refrigerator pickle. There is no cooking involved and you simply let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days until it’s ready to eat. What I like most about this style is that the pickles stay crisp. I pickled some zucchini a couple weeks ago, which involved cooking the zucchini a bit, and while it tasted really good I think they were too soft. But hey, it’s all good.

The best pickle I ever had was Guss’ Pickles on the Lower East Side in NYC. It’s no longer there but it looks like they kept the business going in Brooklyn. And they sell them at Whole Foods? I’ll have to keep my eye out for them, but until then I have a good supply of pickles in the fridge. Hope you’re having a great summer, I’ll be back with some tomato recipes soon!

kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-6.jpg
kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-1.jpg
kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-3.jpg
kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-4.jpg
kirby_cucumber_dill_pickles-5.jpg

Pickled Kirby Cucumbers

  • 2-3 Kirby Cucumbers, quartered

  • 1 cups white vinegar

  • 1 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns

  • 1 garlic clove

  • Fresh dill, a few sprigs

Place the quartered pickles in a quart mason jar. Add all the spices, garlic and dill to the jar. Pour in the water and vinegar, top off with more if needed. Place the cap on and give it a good shake. Pickles will be ready in a week or so. Store in the refrigerator. They should last a couple months. But you will have eaten them by then  ;)


Ratatouille with Polenta

ratatouille_with_polenta-1.jpg

Ratatouille with Polenta. This is the first time I’ve made Ratatouille. I received a complimentary cookbook Famous Dishes from Around the World that has 30 traditional dishes from various places around the globe, countries in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East. I picked French Ratatouille since there is such an abundance of vegetables this time of year, it makes a great summer dish. I changed a few things from the original recipe, for example the recipe had 10 cloves of garlic and I used 3, because I can’t handle too much garlic, as much as I like the flavor. I also used 2 cans of diced tomatoes rather than using marinara sauce and tomato paste. In any case it came out really good! I’ve had good and bad Ratatouille and this was definitely good. It tastes very fresh. 

I like the cookbook, it’s fun and all the recipes are fairly easy, and it has some cooking tips as well. I love all kinds of food so I think I would be happy to make any of these recipes. I want to try the Moroccan Tagine with Chicken next! Oh and It’s bilingual, each recipe is in English and Spanish, so if you’re learning either language you might enjoy this. The Ratatouille recipe here is vegetarian, but you could easily add some meat if you like. If you do add something like sausage, simply cook the meat first in the pot, then remove and add it in later with all the vegetables. Enjoy!

ratatouille_with_polenta-2.jpg
ratatouille_with_polenta-3.jpg
ratatouille_with_polenta-4.jpg
ratatouille_with_polenta-5.jpg

Ratatouille

  • 1 large eggplant, 1” slices

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 10 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 cloves of garlic)

  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes

  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced

  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced

  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced

  • 3 bell peppers (red, green and yellow), cut 1” pieces

  • 2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes

  • 5 bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons fresh or dried oregano (or rosemary if you prefer)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme

  • Salt & pepper to taste

(Note: the original recipe cooks each vegetable separately in another pan, then added to the larger pot, I cooked everything in one pot and it worked out fine)

Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle slices with salt for one hour to make them sweat. Blot them dry with a paper towel. Cut into quarters.

In a large dutch oven cook the eggplant in some olive oil until about half way cooked. Add the onions, garlic and tomato to the pot, sauté a few minutes until soft. Add the zucchini, squash, mushrooms, peppers, adding more olive oil as needed. Cook for 5 more minutes or so. Stir in the cans of tomatoes and the herbs (save some basil for garnish). Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes on a very low heat, stirring every so often. 

While the Ratatouille is simmering prepare the Polenta.

Serves 6-8 (This completely filled my dutch oven and I could not add one more thing, so it makes quite a bit!)

Recipe adapted from Famous Dishes from Around the World: Healthy, Tasty, and Affordable

Polenta

  • 1 cup Polenta (I use Bob’s Redmill Polenta Corn Grits)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup chicken stock

Bring water, milk and chicken stock to a boil, stir in the polenta, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes, then let it sit for a few more minutes until ready to serve.

Kale Pistachio Pesto

kale_pistachio_pesto-1.jpg

I made this pesto a few weeks ago with hazelnuts, and wow it was so good. But I’ve been seeing folks make it with pistachios and since I had some leftover from the pistachio cake I made last week I thought I’d give this a try. Honestly I love it with either nut. What’s nice about this kind of pesto is that you can change the nuts or the greens, add basil or not, add parsley or cilantro, there’s a lot of room to get creative and it just tastes so good. It’s really perfect for a vegetarian dish, or you could add bits of roast chicken if you wanted more protein. I joined Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club a while back where Sara has made some variations on this pesto, and David Lebovitz posted a Kale Pistachio Pesto on Instagram that got me going on this. Most recipes say to pulse all the ingredients except the olive oil, then slowly add olive oil, but I just put everything in the food processor and it comes out fine, you might need to add a little olive oil after it’s finished if you want a different consistency. I just put it in a bowl, drizzle a bit of olive oil and give a stir. Lacinato Kale (or Tuscan or Dino, so many names for the same thing!) is such a great vegetable. It will store fairly long in the fridge, you can add it to soups, you can make salads, here’s a whole bunch of Kale recipes, and now pesto! I think it’s delicious, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

kale_pistachio_pesto-2.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-3.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-4.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-5.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-6.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-7.jpg
kale_pistachio_pesto-8.jpg

Kale Pistachio Pesto

  • Tuscan kale, about 5 ounces chopped

  • A bit of basil or fresh herbs, but not needed

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted pistachio nuts

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/3 grated parmesan cheese

  • Juice of half a lemon

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until it’s a granular textured consistency. Place in container and add a little more olive oil if needed. Toss with pasta and add a dollop on top with some grated parmesan.

Endive Salad with Blue Cheese + Dijon Vinaigrette

Endive Salad with Blue Cheese + Dijon Vinaigrette

This recipe is so easy it seems hardly worth a blog post, but deserves it still. It goes way back for me. When I was in college in New York City (a million years ago!) I waited tables at a french restaurant called Les Tournebroches.

Read More

Mushroom Lasagna

mushroom_lasagna-1.jpg

This Mushroom Lasagna is absolutely delicious. It’s the second time I’ve made it and even changing the types of mushrooms and cheese did not disappoint. I saw the recipe about two years ago on Adventures in Cooking and finally gave it a try. Mushroom, cheese and pasta generally are a good combination, still sometimes things sound good but are just meh. Not this time. It was wow! it’s so good! And it makes quite a bit too, even with four people we had leftover. It’s even better the second day.

I shopped at Trader Joe’s knowing they would have better prices on the cheese, but I would sacrifice mushroom selection. The last time I made this Mushroom Lasagna I had shopped at Whole Foods, and the selection for Ricotta cheese was slim, I had the choice to fork over $7 for one container (and you need two for this recipe), or get the low fat version at around $4+. They were all out of the 365 brand, and this seems to be an ongoing problem with Whole Foods lately, the shelves are bare! They started a new inventory system called order-to-shelf (OTS), which was designed and implemented a year ago (long before Amazon purchased them, so don’t blame Amazon as tempting as it is), the new system is good in that it’s cost-cutting, and will help prevent food spoilage from excess inventory going bad in the storage room, but damn, if you look at some of those photos, I haven’t seen it that bad here in Portland but I have experienced times where some fairly basic items normally in stock are just not there. Mostly in produce, like where’s the parsley? Hopefully now that it’s had some press Amazon will do something about this. 

The recipe is very forgiving in that you can add whatever mushrooms or cheese you have. The original recipe used a sharp cheddar, which I did the first time, but then I opted for Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio on the second time. Both were delicious so you can mix up whatever kind of shredded cheese you want.

When this came out of the oven yesterday it smelled so amazing, but then I thought, no way was this going on the blog, it just looked like a big heap of stuff in my old ugly-ass pyrex dish, but a day later and a few food styling tweaks, it looked presentable. There are certain foods, dishes, that really don’t lend themselves to sexy food. For example, raw mushroom, sexy! Cooked mushroom, er, um, cover me up please. I took some photos of the sliced mushrooms cooking on the stove and it looked so unappetizing I didn’t include it here. Smelled great though.

By the way, January marks my five year anniversary with Pixels + Crumbs blog. And guess what, my very first post was a mushroom post! Mushroom Soup. I remember how I labored over it, the whole thing seemed to take forever and I wondered if I’d gotten myself into something a bit crazy. It’s like hours of cooking, hours of food styling, photos and editing and writing. Well the writing gets a bit short because I’m completely burnt out at that point, ha ha. But I’ve kept this blog alive after five years. I don’t post as much as I used to, now it’s more of a monthly post, but I can’t seem to let it go. 

See you next month and thanks for stopping by.

mushroom_lasagna-2.jpg
mushroom_lasagna-3.jpg
mushroom_lasagna-4.jpg

Mushroom Lasagna

Mushroom Layer

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ounces chantarelles, chopped (all mushrooms will work, I used only white button mushrooms and Crimini and it tasted great)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Cheese Layers

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 30 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves chopped (or dried, but tastes better with fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound (12 oz bag)  white cheddar, grated (or mixed cheeses)

Lasagna Layers

  • 9 sheets dried lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil on bottom of pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch black pepper

For the mushroom layer, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sautee onion and garlic in the butter until softened and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and olive oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the white wine. Cook until most of the liquid is gone for an additional 5 minutes or so. Remove the mushrooms and onion, place in a small bowl and set aside to cool.

For the cheese layer, add 1/4 cup butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add the flour, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until a roux forms. Place the roux in a large bowl and add the ricotta cheese, milk, thyme, sage, oregano, black pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Toss the quartered crimini mushrooms with the olive oil and salt in a medium bowl and set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place some of the lasagna noodles in the water and allow to cook until slightly bendable, about 3-4 minutes, working in batches as necessary. Remove with tongs and place three of the noodles on the bottom of a roughly 9 x 13-inch rectangular casserole dish, keeping them in a flat even layer.

Spread 1/4 of the sautéed mushroom mixture over the noodles, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheddar cheese. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta mixture over the cheddar, then place 3 to 4 noodles in an even layer on top of the ricotta. Repeat until you have used all of the sautéed mushrooms, cheddar, and ricotta, but do not place noodles over the top and final layer of ricotta. Instead, evenly distribute the quartered mushrooms over the top and sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper. Place the pan on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook until the cheese is bubbly around the edges and the mushrooms on top have turned a deep brown and wrinkled, about 45-50 minutes. 

Adapted from Adventures in Cooking