Heirloom Tomato Salsa

I was going to wait until next year to publish this little recipe. But I’m all caught up in the moment. The tomatoes are still rolling in from our garden and the only way we can stand to eat them anymore is salsa. I need to write this all down and get it out there right now.  My kids love this stuff.

This summer I’ve been falling in love with Alice Walter’s The Art of Simple Food. Her salsa recipe is the basis for this one and I love it.

Heirloom Tomato Salsa Recipe

The ingredient ratios in this recipe are extremely negotiable. But please do use the best tomatoes you can find. They carry the entire show. I’ve done it without the onion and with parsley instead of cilantro and it was still great.

3 – 4 heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped fine
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of one lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Transfer to a quart jar and put it in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with tortilla chips. We like to use the Scoop variety because the tomatoes release a fair amount of liquid.

prep-time: 10 minutes
yield: approximately 1 quart

Mini BLTs

Most of my family is engaged in a love affair with the fresh summer, vine-ripened, field-grown tomato right now. Even our youngest has decided she might actually like the taste of home-grown grape tomatoes picked fresh out of our garden, which is pretty major. 

Mini BLTs Recipe

Heavy duty toothpicks or cocktail forks come in handy with this snack. Once you cut the sandwiches into quarters, they tend to fall apart without them.

Mayonaisse is an essential component in this recipe. Embrace the mayonaisse. Also embrace the white bread. Of course this sandwich would still be delicious if you went light on the mayonaisse and used whole grain bread. Make it your own and I’ll try my best to keep quite.

8 slices white bread, toasted to a golden brown
Mayonaisse, to taste
8 – 10 slices cooked bacon
1 large ripe tomato, preferrably heirloom, sliced
4 leaves of bibb or romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried

Lay out your bread slices on a clean counter or cutting board. Slather the top and bottom slices for each sandwich with mayonaisse. Layer on the tomato, bacon, and then the lettuce. Each sandwich gets 1 1/2 to 2 slices of bacon. Top with another slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters (preferably triangles). Spear with a large toothpick or cocktail fork. Serve.

Yield: 16 mini sandwiches
Prep-time: 10 minutes (not counting cooking the bacon and toasting bread)

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Grilled Bruschetta

My approach to bruschetta is one I made up a while ago without referring to anything or anyone. I figure I’ve read enough cookbooks that I should know how to make bruschetta with my eyes closed. Feel free to educate me in the comments if I’m commiting some bruschetta sin of the highest order.

Grilled Bruschetta Recipe

Feel free to mix it up based on whatever abundance of summer produce you have on hand.  The kids love to “paint” the olive oil onto the bread prior to grilling.

For the bread:
1 large loaf of rustic crusty white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tomatoes:
16 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pinch kosher salt

For the summer squash:
2 to 3 yellow summer squash and/or zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Goat or feta cheese, for garnish

1. Fire up your outdoor grill to medium heat. Somewhere around 400 degrees Farienhight is nice.

2. Slice the loaf into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, coat one side of each slice liberally with the olive oil mixture. Set aside.

3. Cut off the ends of the summer squash/zucchini. Slice them lengthwise to 1/4 – inch thickness. Spread the slices out on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place the prepared squash, tomatoes, and bread on the grill. Watch the bread closely and flip it once grill marks appear and is starting to brown. Flip the vegetables when grill marks start to appear. Remove from heat and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

5. To assemble, cut the bread slices in half, if they are large. Spread the bread out on a large serving plate in a single layer. Chop the tomatoes and mix them with the basil. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Next, chop the grilled summer squash and mix with the thyme and parsley along with pinches of salt and pepper. Heap the vegetables onto the prepared bread slices. Garnish with goat or feta cheese, if desired. Devour immediately.

Yield: 16
Prep-time: 25 minutes

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

[donotprint]I know. Your kid(s) would never eat this. What am I thinking? I almost didn’t even try this one because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it much less my little ones. But, my eldest is a brave little culinary soul. Her evaluation: “It’s good.”

According to Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference, the tomatillos are not green tomatoes. Rather they are a tart fruit that is formed within a “rustly-crisp parchment bladder. [/donotprint]

If you’re serving this salsa to grown-ups, you might want to add a small clove of garlic and a little bit of  jalapeno.

2 medium tomatillos
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the wrapper from the tomatillos and rinse well in warm water to remove waxy film. Place the tomato and the tomatillos in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes to soften. Allow to cool completely.

If the skin on the tomato is easy to peel off, go ahead and do so. Chop the tomatillos and tomatoes. Drain off excess liquid a bit. Mix together with the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: a generous cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Pizza On A Stick

I’ve decided we need to start eating more snacks on a stick.* The kids had a great time making and eating these.

We use pepperoni that is not pre-sliced. The pre-sliced stuff often looks a deeper shade of artificial and is too thin. But obviously you can make due with whatever is on hand.

Slices of pepperoni
Chunks of mozzarella string cheese
Canned sliced black olives
Grape tomatoes

Thread pepperoni, cheese, olives, and tomatoes onto bamboo skewers. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 10 minutes or longer if the kids are assembling

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Avocado and Tomato Face

The cuteness came out of nowhere. I just wanted an unadulterated shot of avocado. But it turned into a healthy snack with some serious visual appeal. The kids ate it and enjoyed it, which was sort of big deal. Then I ate four more. Num!

The recipe below is approximate as everything depends on how thick you slice the bread, how big the bread is, how thick you slice the avocado, and so on. I’m not going to get into that level of detail. Eyeball it. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

10-12 slices of bread (preferably from a  french baguette)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado (preferably Haas)
3 grape tomatoes, sliced
Fresh cilantro
One wedge of lime

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crostini: Prepare the bread by laying the slices out onto a baking sheet. Brush a bit of olive oil onto each slice with a pastry brush. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden and bread is crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Gently wash a small handful of cilantro. Remove the stems and set the nicer looking leaves on a paper towel to air dry. Wash the tomatoes and slice them. Set aside. Slice the avocado just prior to assembly. If it the slices sit too long they may brown.

For assembly: Place an avocado slice on the lower half of a crostini. Place two or three of the cilantro leaves on the top half. Set two tomato slices on top of the cilantro for the eyes. Squeeze a few drops lime juice over the top of the avocado and tomato. Serve immediately.

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Pizza Muffins

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Pizza Muffins Recipe
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, Italian Seasoning, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, egg, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk, milk, tomato paste, cottage cheese and parmesan cheese until almost uniform in color. Small bits of tomato and cheese are actually a good thing so do not over mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix until uniform.

Transfer batter to a muffin pan sprayed with oil. Fill each muffin cup up to ¾ full with batter. Bake on a rack in the center of the oven for 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

Note: If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can make a substitute. If you don’t have any white whole wheat flour, I’d suggest replacing it with 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.

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