balsamic tomato salsa

balsamic tomato salsa

Stewed tomatoes.  I was cleaning out my pantry, and came across a can that I must have mistakenly bought.  I just stared at it.  Trying not to be wasteful, I stood there thinking of how I could use it but something in my genetic make up won’t allow it.  My mother, however, (insert the saying “bless her heart” HERE), seemed to think that they went with every skillet dinner we had growing up.  I just couldn’t get past the weirdly shaped, skinless, lifeless chunks.  They looked like someone beat the life out of them and then canned them up because no one else wanted them.  I love tomatoes any other way – sliced, diced, raw, sauced – oh wait, that’s me!  So anyway, they often got picked around at dinner.  Now, as an adult, I am laughing at myself because I still can’t open a can of stewed tomatoes.  I just can’t.  But who needs them?  Like I said, there are so many ways to eat tomatoes.  This recipe can go a few ways.  It can be a jalapeño type salsa made with lime juice or red wine vinegar, or turn it into a salad with feta and orzo.  But the number one tip is to us the best ingredients you can since everything is fresh.  I also  prefer to use grape tomatoes since they hold their shape better when mixing everything together, but use diced if you prefer.  This one was made to go with a swordfish dinner we were having.  It was so good, that I had to break it out again from the fridge a few days later, and have some as an appetizer.  Love you mom!

swordfish and tomato salsa

mixed salsa

balsamic tomato salsa

1/2  pint of organic red grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of organic golden grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of kalamata olives, sliced (or any combination of olives)
1/2  English cucumber, peeled and diced
6  scallions, sliced
2  Fresno chilis, sliced
10  basil leaves, julienned
3  TB Aged balsamic vinegar (not your run of the mill balsamic vinegar)
1  TB extra virgin olive oil
pinch crushed red pepper
kosher salt and ground black pepper

yellow grape tomatoes

diced cucumber

fresno chilis


get started on the salsa:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add the pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix gently.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

basil leaves


chicken roll ups

chicken roll ups

I have long given up on stuffing a huge pork loin.  I have tried too many times and  failed, and I get mad just thinking about it.  The thing is that it looks so damn pretty in the magazines and seems like it should be easy.  I have packed those loins (stop laughing) with juicy stuffing and it still came out with some areas of the pork being leathery and other areas being undercooked.  The stuffing usually lived to make it onto the plate, but I’m already too upset to eat it at that point, so into the trash it goes.  I am not a fan of fruit in my savory meals, but maybe those apples are the secret to pork staying moist?  Or maybe my thermometer is taking a reading where the stuffing is rather than the layer of pork I should be testing.  I don’t know.  Either way I’m done.  Every time my grocery store runs the special on the huge loin that you probably should portion and freeze, I just close my eyes and try to forget the delicious spinach and italian sausage stuffing that went to waste, or the sun dried tomato and broccoli rabe round two version that was sacrificed, and of course – the time spent on expertly butterflying the meat.
So I stuff chicken now instead.  Although this one takes a little time to assemble, once it is in the oven, you’re golden.  Make a little rice, or boil up some pasta, and you have a complete meal and one that will satisfy anyone (who likes chicken).  Plus, it isn’t like you have to prepare a stuffing ahead of time.  You just find ingredients you like and roll them up!  I tend to tweak the recipe depending on what is in my fridge.  The basic components are chicken, cheese, and tomatoes.  My kids like the assembly aspect of preparation – chicken, salt and pepper, prosciutto, basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese.  I have done this with other combinations as well, such as ham and Fontina cheese, leftover grilled vegetables with smoked gouda or even asparagus and provolone.  Everything added on top is optional.  I tend to throw in extras to flavor up the juice in order to serve over rice.  Make it your own and I promise it won’t disappoint.

chicken roll ups:

2 packages of chicken scallopini – check to see if there are about 5 breasts each package
kosher salt and pepper
crushed red pepper
10  slices of imported prosciutto
10  large basil leaves plus 1/4 cup for garnish
4  plum tomatoes, sliced
2  large balls fresh mozzarella, halved and sliced (about 20 slices)
olive oil
1  can diced tomatoes
1  cup white wine
1/2  onion, halved and sliced thinly
1/2  cup olives


get started on rolling them up:

Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange your ‘stuffing’ ingredients so that you can easily lay each of them on the chicken.  Halve and slice the fresh mozzarella.  Slice your tomatoes so that you get the amount needed to stuff your chicken (about 10-12).  You want to be able to taste the tomatoes so don’t cut them too thin.  Pick off the best 10 basil leaves.  Get out the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Lay out as many chicken breasts as your board allows.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Lay a slice of prosciutto to cover the breast.  Add a basil leaf, slice of tomato and then a slice of mozzarella in the lower third of the chicken breast.  Roll up the chicken from the bottom, by placing your fingers over the stack of ingredients to keep them in place.  Place the roll up with the seam side down in an oiled 11×17 glass dish.  I don’t use toothpicks but if you choose to, remember to take them out!  Continue rolling up remaining chicken.  You should have about 10-12 roll ups.  Try not to squeeze them too tightly together in the dish or they will cook unevenly.

assembly linehelping hands

Drizzle more olive oil over the chicken and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Top each roll up with slices of mozzarella.  Add the canned tomatoes, sliced onions, olives and white wine.  Sprinkle with chopped basil.  Place dish in oven and cook for 30 minutes or until temperature of chicken reaches 155.  Take dish out and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

roll uptopped with cheese

roll ups readyroll ups done

note:  this dish serves 4 with obvious leftovers!