Lots of tomato and eggplant recipes this week as the bounty of those two draws to a close. Please revisit old packets for many more tomato recipes (to preserve as jam or roast for freezing) from the last several weeks. And I didn’t include much for the turnips but just enjoy them raw, grated in salads with the carrots or quickly sauteed in olive oil or with a little diced bacon, until tender. Happy cooking!
Simplest Tomato Sauce
Basic Pizza Dough
Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew
Green Curry with Eggplant, Turnips and Carrots
Joi Choi and Turnip Greens with Garlic, Ginger and Fish Sauce
Spiced Carrot Muffins
Simplest Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes, olive oil, salt. That’s it. When the tomatoes are good it’s honestly all you need. And I make sauce with slicer and heirloom tomatoes all the time. It takes longer to cook down because they’re so juicy but with a little patience and high heat it’s perfect. But you do have onions in the share this week so by all means start with a finely diced onion and then proceed, if you’d like.
I made this the other day, in about 15 minutes and I topped pizza dough with it and some mozzarella and basil and had the perfect dinner. (Pizza recipes below)
Dice as many tomatoes as you want to use. Add them to a wide skillet to which you’ve added a generous splash of olive oil. Cook at a lively simmer until it’s thickened to your liking. Salt to taste. If the sauce seems too acidic or not quite perfect add a tablespoon or two of butter. Butter is THE “perfecter” of tomato sauce.
More suggestions for use:
- Fill crepes with a few tablespoons, some grated cheese and fresh basil; roll up and bake, topped with a bit more sauce, until hot.
- Layer the sauce with thick, eggy herb crepes (add 4-5 tablespoons of chopped parsley, chives and/or basil to the crepe batter of 4 eggs, 1 3/4 cups milk and scant 1 cup of flour, salt and pepper) and grated Parmesan or other cheese. Layer the crepes and sauce in a cake pan or other round or oval dish and bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and browning on top. This is a perfectly sublime dish and beautiful cut into wedges.
- Top a bowl of any kind of rice or quinoa or cooked beans and a bunch of sautéed collard greens with the sauce and a generous drizzle of olive oil, some kind of cheese (or not) or a fried egg and you’ve got a simple, delicious meal.
- Make eggplant parmesan (recipe below)
I only make this about once a year but each time I make it I wish I did so weekly while eggplants and tomatoes are in abundance. As I think I’ve mentioned before I rarley salt and drain eggplant anymore. It’s an extra step that I don’t find necessary with perfectly fresh eggplant. You can either bake the eggplant as noted below or pan-fry it in a bit of oil. I really like both versions and when I’m in a hurry I tend to fry.
2-3 large globe eggplants, sliced into ¼ – 1/3 –inch slices lengthwise or into rounds
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups tomato sauce (above or your favorite kind) to which you’ve added some chopped basil and the minced garlic
1 cup (or more) grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Arrange the slices on two baking sheets (they may not all fit and you’ll need to do them in batches). Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake, turning once until tender and starting to brown, about 20-25 minutes total. Turn oven down to 375.
Line the bottom of an 8 x 13” baking dish (or something similar). Spread a thin layer of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with either eggplant and cheese or sauce and cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes or so until everything is bubbling and the cheese is browning on top. You can run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want more color.
Makes 2 pizzas (using the pizza dough recipe below or two balls of purchased pizza dough – Grand Central Bakery makes excellent white and whole wheat pizza doughs that you can buy frozen)
2 cups Simplest Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
2, 2-ounce balls fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
about 15 large basil leaves
Baking on a baking sheet:
Stretch out your pizza dough into a large round. If you don’t have a pizza stone on which you can bake the pizza directly, place the dough on a large cookie sheet, spread the sauce on evenly, lay the mozzarella slices over the sauce and bake at 425 degrees. A few minutes before you think it’s done, place the basil leaves over the cheese and bake a few more minutes until the crust is browning in spots.
Baking directly on a pizza stone:
If you have a stone preheat your oven to 500 (probably the highest your oven will go) with your pizza stone in it. Let it heat up for 20-30 minutes if you have the time. Remove the top wrack in the oven to give yourself more room to maneuver later.
And if you don’t have a pizza peel (the long-handled wooden tool with which you slide the pizza onto the hot stone) then flour the back (or front if it’s flat with no rims) cookie sheet and spread your stretched out pizza dough on the floured sheet.
You can dust the back of the cookie sheet with a mix of cornmeal and flour for which might help get the pizza off. Then top it evenly with the sauce and arrange the cheese on the sauce. Now with your oven and stone hot, and pizza on a well-floured cookie sheet, open the oven. Place the far end of the cookie sheet towards the back of the pizza stone at a 25 degree angle (or thereabouts) and then with a quick jerk of the wrist pull the cookie sheet back and let the pizza slide onto the hot stone in the oven. It should come off very easily at this point. And be very sure not to have any topping pieces or even drips of oil or sauce come between the baking sheet and the bottom of the pizza. The slightest bit of this will make the pizza stick.
A few minutes before it looks done scatter the basil leaves over the cheese and bake until the edges are darn brown and the topping is bubbling.
Also go easy on the toppings. You don’t want to overload with pizza for several reasons: the dough doesn’t cook evenly and the bottom burns before the toppings are done and secondly, it’s harder to slide onto the stone with more risk of disaster. And don’t let the toppings sit on the pizza dough on the cookie sheet. As soon as you’ve topped it get it into the oven so it doesn’t have time to soak through.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the crust is nice and crisp and brown on the edges and the toppings are cooked.
Basic Pizza Dough
–adapted from Jim Lahey
Pizza dough freezes beautifully. So if you’re only going to use half of it or want to make a double batch and save some for future use, just lightly oil a 1 qt freezer bag and put ½ a recipe worth of pizza dough in. Thaw it thoroughly and bring it to room temperature before using. Then handle exactly the same as fresh dough.
In Jim Lahey’s original recipe he has you bake the pizzas on a sheet pan. I do that sometimes, especially for his potato pizza because there’s so much topping, but usually I bake them right on a pizza stone which makes them wonderfully crisp. If you’re using a pizza stone you don’t need any oil and just place the stretched out piece of dough onto a well-floured pizza peel (or the back of a cookie shit if you don’t have a peel) and after you’ve added the toppings you slide it right onto the hot stone.
I have tried this recipe with half whole wheat flour and half white. It turns out fine but is a bit of a different animal—not as crisp a bit nuttier and chewier—as you might expect.
500 grams bread flour (3 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (10 grams)
3/4 teaspoons table salt (5 grams)
3/4 teaspoon sugar, plus a pinch (about 3 grams)
1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups room temperature water
extra-virgin olive oil for pans
In a medium bowl, stir together the bread flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough should be able to contain all of the flour, if it seems dry or if there is excess flour at the bottom of the bowl, add water a tablespoon at a time.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours.
Punch down the dough and cut in half to make two balls.
Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew
–adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater
I have to admit that I have not made this—I’ve had it bookmarked for a year. I am committing to making it this week. It is definitely a bit of a project but my mouth is watering as I type. . .please report if you make it. I’d love to know how it turns out. And I should say that I trust this cookbook author completely. Everything of his I’ve ever made I’ve loved.
6 generous servings (and he attests to the fact that it’s even better the next day)
2 very large eggplants (or enough to make 2 lbs.)
3 onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut oil
8 green cardamom pods
2 tablespoons coriander seeds (or 1 tablespoon ground)
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper corns
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
8-10 medium tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
3 ½ cups coconut milk
2-3 serrano or jalapeno peppers, minced (remove seeds if you want it less spicy)
1 small bunch mint
1 bunch cilantro
Cut the eggplants into fat chunks. The dish will be more interesting to eat if you don’t cut them too small. Put them into a colander, set in the sink and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave them for a half hour or longer.
Cook with onions in the oil in a large pot until soft and translucent. While the onions are cooking, crush the cardamom pods with the flat blade of a knife or a rolling pin and shake out the little black seeds into a mortar or spice grinder. Add the coriander seeds and grind them to a coarse powder.
Stir the garlic and ginger into the onions with the turmeric and ground spices. Peel and seed the tomatoes (I’m inclined to skip this step as I do with most recipes that call for this) and add them to the pan with the onions and spices.
Rinse the eggplant of their salt and pat dry. Without oiling them, grill them on a cast iron ridged grill pan (I don’t have one of these so will likely use my regular cast iron pan and use a little oil) until they are starting to soften and have dark grill lines across them. Turn and cook on both sides. Continue with the remaining eggplant. Add them to the onions and pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, chilies and a little salt and continue cooking for about 45 minutes. The eggplants should be very soft and silky but not actually falling apart.
Lift out the eggplants, tomatoes and some of the onions with a slotted spoon. Reduce the rest of the sauce by boiling hard for 5 minutes or so. Now ladle most, but not all, of the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth and thick (do this with care and secure the lid well-sauce is very hot). Return the vegetables and the sauce to the pot, then chop the mint and cilantro and stir them in, together with a final seasoning of salt and black pepper. Serve with rice.
Thai Green Curry with Eggplant, Carrots and Turnips
I’ve included this dish earlier in the season but am doing so again because it’s wonderful with eggplant and the carrots and turnips are a nice addition too. It is not quite an authentic Green Curry but a tasty, quick adaptation. You can easily add chicken or tofu to it for an even heartier dish though it’s wonderfully rich and satisfying without as well.
Serves 4 (generously)
2-3 carrots, well scrubbed (but no need to peel) and sliced thinly on the bias
2 turnips, scrubbed and cut into small wedges or chunks, 2 cups chopped turnip greens
2-3 cups eggplant, either sliced into 1/3-inch half-rounds if you have long, skinny Asian eggplants or into bite-sized pieces if you have globe eggplants.
1 medium potato, diced (optional)
1 – 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 heaping teaspoon (or to taste) green curry paste (Thai & True is a great local brand and Mae Ploy is also readily available brand)
4-6 Kafir Lime leaves (optional) (Whole Foods and most Asian markets have them and they freeze beautifully so if you happen to see some buy lots and freeze-they add an incomparable fragrance to this dish though it’s certainly good without too)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (more to taste)
1 -2 teaspoons fish sauce (can omit to make it vegetarian/vegan) (more to taste)
1 can coconut milk (full fat preferably but light will work too)
3 tablespoons basil, packed and roughly torn
Juice of half a lime (optional)
White or brown cooked Jasmine or other long grain rice
Heat wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add ½ cup of coconut milk (use the thickest, part usually at the top of the can) and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger and carrots and fry it all for about 3-4 minutes until the paste is fragrant. Then add the remainder of the coconut milk plus ½ can’s worth of water, soy sauce and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and add the eggplant, turnips and basil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Just before the vegetables are tender add the chopped turnip greens and then cook for a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning with a bit of salt or more soy sauce and/or fish sauce if needed and finish with a generous squeeze of lime juice, if using. Serve hot over rice.
Joi Choi and Turnip Greens with Garlic, Ginger and Fish Sauce
1 large bunch Joi Choi, very well washed (the dirt tends to hide at the base), and sliced into 1-inch ribbons, stems and all
1 bunch turnip greens, well washed and roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely minced or grated on a microplane
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, roots trimed and white and green part cut into 1-inch lengths (or 1/3 or so of a large yellow onion, thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon (more or less to taste—and you can substitute soy sauce if you’d like) Fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other fairly neutral oil)
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil and add the garlic, greens onions (or regular) and ginger and stir fry over high heat for several minutes until everything just turns golden. Drop the joi choi and turnip greens into the boiling water for just a minute. Drain well and add to the garlic mixture with the fish sauce. Toss well and serve immediately.
This would be wonderful with some prawns that you could cook with the garlic and ginger before you add the greens. . . . or simply as a side dish or over rice.
Spiced Carrot Muffins
–adapted from Chef Kathryn Yeoman’s, the Farmer’s Feast
About 15 muffins
These are easy to make and wonderful to send in school lunches (or grown-up lunches) and to just have around for snacks or breakfast on the run. You can make a double batch and wrap and freeze many of them. I’ve reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe. Feel free to use as much as 1 ¾ cups if you’d like them a bit sweeter. I also use olive oil instead of canola but either will work fine.
You can also substitute grated apple or pear for half of the grated carrot quantity. The spices are perfect for those fruits as well.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup mild olive or canola oil
4 cups grated carrots (large holes of box grater or food processor)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter muffin tins or line with paper liners.
Whisk together flours, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk eggs, oil and sugar until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir to just combine and then stir in grated carrots and walnuts, if using.
Fill muffin cups with batter and bake muffins about 22- 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.