ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

This post is a bit nostalgic, as this was the last recipe I made in the nano-kitchen, but we left L.A. before I had a chance to write it up. A very simple recipe designed with the idea of using ingredients hanging around before our departure from California. It turned out so delicious! Plus, it was a nice match for the weather we were having then. Now that the thermometers are wonderfully stuck in the high 90’s, the thought of soup is not particularly appealing, but this one would work equally well chilled.

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

8-12 ounces of grape and/or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 shallots, cut in half
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
kalamata olive oil (or another olive oil of your choice)
splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
vegetable stock (or water)
2 Tbs orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
chives for garnish

Place the tomatoes, shallot pieces and garlic in a bowl and add enough olive oil to just coat them lightly. Transfer them to a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper, set the tomatoes with the cut size down. Sprinkle some salt and pepper all over, and a splash with balsamic vinegar.

Roast in a 425F oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tomato skins and the edges of the shallots start to get brown. Remove from the oven, let it all cool slightly, and using gloves peel off the skin of the tomatoes (you can leave them on if you don’t mind their texture in the soup). Squeeze the garlic out of its peel, and transfer it together with the tomatoes, shallots and any liquid accumulated in the pan to a food processor. Process it until smooth, pour into a sauce pan over medium heat, and add enough vegetable stock to give a consistency you like. Let it come to a gentle boil, add the orange juice, orange zest, taste for seasoning, and serve with chives sprinkled for garnish.

ENJOY!

                             to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had a mixture of grape and cherry tomatoes that needed to be used, and a couple of yellow grape tomatoes went into the mix too. Feel free to improvise, nothing can go wrong with this soup: add different types of herbs, or go for a cumin or cayenne blast. I had planned to make some parmiggiano crisps to serve with the soup, but the electric burners in the nano-kitchen failed, and I was left with a big lump of cheesy mess. Once the weather cools, I’ll revisit this soup – cheese crisps included – and add some mushrooms to the roasting pan. I bet a roasted tomato & mushroom soup will be very flavorful.

ONE YEAR AGO: Turkey Meatballs

TWO YEARS AGO: Focaccia

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THE END OF GREEN BEAN CRUELTY

I’m talking about THIN green beans, of course…   😉

We learned about Michel Richard firsthand, at his wonderful, exciting restaurant Central in Washington DC.  What a delicious experience it was! The bread – that keeps coming to the table, always warm and impossible to say no to – and the gougeres alone are worth stopping by.  In his book Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard comments  that  most recipes for green beans cook them in boiling water, then quickly shock them in an ice-bath. However, he adamantly opposes this method when dealing with pencil-thin green beans. They are so delicate, so why would anyone furiously boil and shock the poor things, leaving them limp and lifeless?

I’ve been guilty of such green bean cruelty more than once, but I won’t ever do it again. When prepared  by Michel’s guidelines, they are simply irresistible, even served without any embellishments. However, pairing these beauties with small roasted tomatoes didn’t hurt them a bit.

GREEN BEANS WITH ROASTED TOMATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the green beans:
a bunch of pencil-thin green beans (amount enough for two)
1 Tbs olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp orange zest
salt and pepper to taste

for the tomatoes
1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Start by roasting the tomatoes.  Spread them in a single layer on a small baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, shake them around, and season with salt and pepper.  Place in a 400 F oven until they get soft and start to brown around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve, keeping warm.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, add the red pepper flakes and the orange zest.  Keep in a gentle heat for a couple of minutes, until the mixture starts to get fragrant.  Increase the heat, add the green beans, and let them cook for a few minutes undisturbed, so that they get a little color where they make contact with the pan.  Stir them around to coat the beans with the flavored oil, and saute for a little while longer, until the beans are cooked through, but still al dente. Don’t overcook! Season with salt and pepper, add the roasted tomatoes on top, and mix gently.  Adjust seasoning, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Michel Richard’s main message is to cook thin green beans straight by sauteing in a small amount of fat.  You can substitute butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil, or use a different type of oil, keep in mind that some – like walnut oil –  burn at a lower temperature, so it’s best to add them close to the end of cooking.

The combination of green beans and orange zest, worked quite well in this recipe,  with the touch of balsamic vinegar brought by the tomatoes.  It was a nice side dish for our grilled flank steak, but if you want a fully vegetarian meal, add some pasta or couscous, a big salad and a thick slice of grilled bread.  It’s  more than enough for a tasty dinner.  Just remember, be kind to the green beans!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

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