Caramelized Tomato Tart

The tomatoes keep coming. I have canned three separate batches, froze some sauce and now have a third bowl that I must deal with before I leave the house today. These tomatoes were given to mother and me by my aunt on my recent visit to Western New York, and are some of the most beautiful I have seen this season: medium-sized tear-drop shape, deep red and very sweet. When home, I was inspired to use these beauties to make a tomato tart (from a Bon Appetit recipe a week or so ago) and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. I do plan on tweaking this recipe a bit, but it disappeared rather quickly, so I won’t change it too much – here are the details!

In a cast iron skillet I melted a quarter stick of butter and a 1/4 cup of sugar and let it all melt together and start to turn brown. I drizzled about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let that reduce for a minute.  I tossed in a few leaves of torn basil and a teaspoon of salt. Next I filled the pan with those gorgeous tomatoes, cut in half and placed cut-side down, letting these cook down and caramelize for 15 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Once the tomatoes were soft, I placed a round of pie dough on top and tucked in the edges around the tomatoes. The original recipe (which I’ve deviated from quite a bit) called for puff pastry, which I didn’t have, and might work better. I baked this until the pie dough was browned (about 20 minutes) in a 425 degree oven. Once I took this out, I let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so and then loosened the dough, put a plate to the bottom of the skillet and inverted the whole pan. In truth, some of the tomatoes stuck a bit, but it was easy to recreate and looked quite beautiful – especially drizzled with a touch of high quality balsamic and a few more torn leaves of tomato.

Is it a dessert? A side dish? An appetizer? I don’t know. But it was all delicious.

Locally Caught Scallops with Herb Pesto

scallops with pesto

I’ve been craving seafood lately, but with my bounty of veg from the farm share, farmer’s market and my garden, I rarely had to go to the grocery store (yea!). However, that meant that without a special trip I wouldn’t be able to satisfy my shellfish itch. So, I figured I would stop by Whole Paycheck and pick up a few staples while perusing their seafood section, which is well-labeled with sustainable local and wild catch options.

Luckily I found some (rather expensive) locally caught scallops. I bought only 8 of them – richer flavor equals needing less to satisfy.

For dinner I heated some olive oil (but you could use local butter) in a cast iron skillet and tossed in the salt and pepper seasoned scallops. After no more than 2 minutes I flipped them, and then took them out 2 minutes after that. These were large scallops – 8 of them was about 3/4 lb – so the time would be even shorter with smaller scallops. You definitely don’t want to overcook.

For the pesto sauce I threw celery leaves, dill and a bit of leftover basil leaves into the processor (but you could use whatever fresh herb odds and ends from your garden or fridge) with 2 cloves of fresh garlic. I drizzled in olive oil until it was the consistency I liked, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I like to squeeze half of a lemon in as well for brightness. Drizzle over the scallops and serve – perhaps with a nice caprese?

Homemade Chevre

As a locavore in the city I sometimes forget the fabulous bounty available once I drive towards where the suburbs melt into rural farmland. Today my husband and I had an errand that took us about 90 miles outside of the city. Since the weather was quite hot we mapped a lake stop, which took us down a lovely leafy rural route. However, once I spotted the sign below, I knew I had to make a quick u-turn.

Inside the fridge was a price list (feta and hard cheese available by request!) and one lonely 8 oz tub of homemade garlic and marjoram goat cheese. I put my money in the indicated “honor” basket (taking my $2 change in quarters), my beach snack secured. Luckily there was a co-op just up the street (imagine that! what kind of locavore heaven did I find in rural central Massachusetts?) and bought two local heirloom tomatoes to complete my impromptu salad. Local lake-side deliciousness.

Tomatoes 1: Completely Local Salsa and Caprese

Fresh tomatoes are back. These jewels are the only thing that cheers me up about the approachment of summer’s inevitable conclusion. Especially with the first half of summer’s continual deluge of rain. However sitting down with a fresh caprese salad last night – even inside, since it was, no surprise, raining – at least helped me feel like I am participating in summer in some way. Alongside last night’s caprese (argula instead of basil and fresh local mozz, both from the farmer’s market), I also made some completely local salsa by chopping up corn, green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. For the heat and a touch of acid I added two spoonfuls of the hot pepper relish I canned last summer from farm share habaneros and jalapenos. I used corn that was steamed and leftover from lunch, but fresh and uncooked would have worked as well. It was everything summer should taste like. And, aside from the vinegar in the relish and the salt, completely local.