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

ingredients

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

salsa

texas caviar


bowl of caviar

I have an old party standby.  Ok it isn’t that old.  Where the history of this recipe originated from is unknown to me.  All I know is that my mom gave it to me years ago, and once I finally made it for some get together, it became a party staple.  It’s funny how simple things can be the party glue.  You don’t always have to wow with fancy appetizers or stress about keeping other starters hot in a chafing dish.  This recipe pleases virtually everyone, and it is super simple to make.  I swear by it. Now I know that some may turn a nose up to the bottled italian dressing used here, but I don’t care.  I really don’t.  Now I do have preference on the type of Italian dressing….but that’s on y’all to decide!

ingredients

texas caviar:

1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
4 green onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 plum tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1 bottle Italian dressing (I used Wishbone Italian Robusto)

beans and hominy

get started on the caviar:

Drain the black-eyed peas, black beans and hominy in a colander and rinse.  Add to a large mixing bowl.  Start dicing the peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes.  Toss into the mixing bowl and combine with the beans.  Add the Italian dressing and parsley.  Stir to combine.  It is ideal to make this a day in advance and store in an airtight container, but it isn’t required.  Using a slotted spoon, add caviar to a serving bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

raw veggies

bowl of caviar

note:  this serves a crowd of 10-15.  I have added various other ingredients from time to time, like cucumber, olives, mild green chilies…you name it.

baked feta and romesco and olive tapenade


two crostini

I can eat a whole loaf of crusty bread.  Add olive oil or cheese and I’ve just gained 8 pounds without blinking. I also get into trouble when my husband makes his big pot of ragù sauce.  That pot calls me…taunting me all effin day…while it simmers away.   He has to shoo me away from it, or else I will have ‘tested’ it 45 times before serving, and then all the bread will be gone for dinner.  He can even tell while he’s upstairs, that I have removed the lid of the cast iron pot to dunk some bread in the bubbling sauce.  I can’t help it.  Maybe this bread addiction stems from when I was growing up, my parents would snack on it after my father got home from work, and they would review their day before dinner.   The telltale ‘antipasti’ – the Boursin cheese (and if bought that week, dad’s stinky cheese…aka some sort of blue cheese), pepperoncini and green olives.  It wasn’t anything fancy – just a flimsy single paper plate, damp with dumped out olives and pepper tops.  It wasn’t put out for me or my sister either, but that didn’t stop us from cruising by, and ripping off some bread and smearing it with cheese and exiting the kitchen while our parents continued to talk.  Fast forward 20 years and marry an Italian.  The cycle has reset itself.  My husband has a soft spot for cheese and bread as well, but he brings soppressata and hot peppers to the mix.  After sampling this dip, he made the ‘eh’ face, which says to me he’s sticking with his toppings.  That’s ok, you can’t please everybody.  I liked this mix of cheese, olives and romesco.  I had never made a romesco sauce before and it was delicious!  Plus, it all was served warm with a crusty loaf of bread, which reminded me of dipping in his pot of tomato sauce…

baked feta with romesco and olive tapenade (adapted from Cooking Light October 2011)

romesco:

red bell pepper
cooking spray
1  28 oz. can San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes, chopped
5  garlic cloves, minced
1/2  cup low sodium chicken broth
2  TB chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1  slice wheat bread, chopped
1/4  tsp. black pepper

tapenade:

1/2  cup pitted kalamata olives
1/2  cup pitted fruity green olives (I used a large green olive in a spicy oil)
1/4  cup fresh flat leave parsley, chopped
1  TB extra virgin olive oil
2  TB sherry vinegar
1/4  tsp. fresh ground black pepper

remaining ingredients:

1 1/4  cups (5 oz) crumbled feta cheese, divided
2  TB fresh flat leave parsley

roasted pepperswhole peeled tomatoes

get started on dip:

Preheat broiler to high.  To prepare romesco sauce, cut red bell pepper in half lengthwise, and discard seeds and membranes.  Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet and flatten them slightly with hand.  Broil for 8 minutes or until blackened.  Place peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to steam.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Peel and chop peppers.
Reduce oven to 425.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add chopped tomatoes and garlic.  Cook 4 minutes or until garlic starts to brown slightly, stirring frequently.  Add red bell peppers and broth.  Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in nuts and bread and cook for 1 minute more.  Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and add pepper.
To prepare the tapenade, place olives, 1/4 cup parsley and the next 3 ingredients (through pepper), in a food processor.  Process until finely chopped.  Transfer to a bowl.  Coat a smaller size broiler safe casserole dish (1 1/2 quart) with cooking spray.  Spoon half of romesco sauce into prepared dish, and top with 3/4 cheese.  Dollop tapenade over cheese.  Spoon the remaining romesco sauce over tapenade, and top with remaining 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Sprinkle with parsley.

chopped olivesdip dish

note:  this dip serves 12 (which is hilarious).  Ok portion control….deep breath.  Oh, and I had Serrano peppers laying around…stuck them on there for ‘garnish’.

crostini