Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta

The promise:  a pasta sauce and a pasta that can be cooked in one pan.  I was intrigued, but skeptical.  No initial sautee of onion and garlic in olive oil to bring out flavor?  Cooking pasta in a mere four cups of water?  I’m usually sheepishly conscious I am not using enough, thanks to my impatience at waiting for the watched pot to (seemingly never) boil?

One-Pan Pasta (2 of 7)

The result–not bad, not bad at all.  When finished I was worried that the abundance of pasta relative to the flecks of tomato and onion would result in a bland dish.  The oil evenly coats every silky strand, infusing eat forkful with plenty of garlic, basil, and onion, and a surprising (but welcome) bit of heat from the pepper flakes. Because everything cooks so quickly, all the constituent parts retain their freshness, meaning this works well as a nice summery dish, and is brighter than just dumping out a jar of pasta sauce over a bowl of spaghetti.  And it might just be faster to prepare.

One-Pan Pasta (3 of 7)

This is not a household that can usually manage both primi and secondi:  we’re talking one main dish here.  And this pasta is more first course than main event, though with a few sides (would that be contorni since we’re doing the foreign language thing?)  it would manage that just fine.  Yet it’s so easy I can imagine myself adding this in as a first course even without having to summon up too much ambition.  And I’ll certainly keep it in mind if we ever manage to get ourselves organized enough to have another dinner party.  As I’ve learned before, pasta dishes can be a lifesaver at such events.

One-Pan Pasta (4 of 7)

I’ve made this with both the cappellini shown below, as well as with penne, and it’s worked out nicely both times.  Both times as a spur of the moment type thing.  It’s so nice to just breezily “whip something up” like that.

One-Pan Pasta (5 of 7)

 

Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta
Author: adapted from[url href=”http://www.marthastewart.com/978784/one-pan-pasta”%5D Martha Stewart Living[/url]
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces linguine (or other pasta)
  • 12 ounces chopped tomato (if using cherry or grape tomatoes, halve or quarter depending on size).
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Instructions
  1. Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.
Notes
I have found that the amount of water called for may be a touch too much. This may depend on the type of pasta you use, but I’ve been scaling down amounts from the original recipe (which quantities are included here).

One-Pan Pasta (6 of 7)

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Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer

Tomatoes.  Since I try to keep my tomatoes on the counter (oh yes, woe betide ye who put them in the fridge), I have to be sure to use them quickly.  Sometimes this is a challenge, such as when I recently succumbed to peak tomato season and acquired, um, 20lbs of them.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (5 of 5)

It’s a good thing that this method that I’m going to tell you about does the trick, and is easy to boot.  (How can you not love a method from a blog post entitled The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Preserving Tomatoes, after all?)

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (1 of 5)

You might be surprised, given my predilection for making jam (and more jam, and ever more jam), that I’m not canning these tomatoes.  Truth be told, I’m still a bit nervous about it–and even if I weren’t it’s not a project I want to tackle on a weeknight–which is when we picked these tomatoes up as an “extra” on our CSA.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (2 of 5)

And laziness aside, roasting just sounds like a delicious way to enjoy these tomatoes:  a few charred spots, sweetness intensified in the oven, melting texture.  They’d make anything they touch taste good.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer (3 of 5)

And lest I feel bad about being a Lazy Girl (which I don’t), it seems that there’s no clear answer on how to safely process roasted tomatoes (see Doris and Jilly’s discussion here, which in addition to a safety discussion includes other methods for roasting if you’re curious).   These are the seemingly minor twists and turns that get me nervous about canning tomatoes–I never would have guessed that this would matter–and it’s all the more reason for me to feel perfectly happy about stashing all mine in the freezer.  And even though freezer space is limited, roasted tomatoes really compact down and easy to find space for.  Of course, the flip side of this is that I only got about 9 jars from 20 pounds of toms.  The upshot, then, is that unless your tomatoes are coming from your garden, this probably won’t save you money over buying canned tomatoes in the store.  My great price of $1.50 a pound on local organic tomatoes, then, wasn’t quite so grand.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to support my CSA and I know I will enjoy using these bit by bit in the coming months.  And maybe I’ll work up the nerve (and the energy) to try canned tomatoes next year.  In the meantime, I see no shame in having taken the easy way out.

Roasted Tomatoes for the Freezer

Ingredients
  • Tomatoes (any quantity)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • basil and/or oregano (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line jelly roll pans (or any pans with sides) with parchment paper or foil. (See note). Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch.
  2. Trim your tomatoes: remove any blemishes or bruises from the tomatoes, and then cut them in half.
  3. Set up a colander over a bowl. Gently squeeze your tomato halves over the colander so the seeds fall inside and the juice is reserved in the bowl underneath.
  4. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set on the lined baking sheets.
  5. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and freshly minced or dried oregano or basil onto your tomatoes.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes (or until the tomatoes are cooked through, being careful not to burn them). Check every so often–hot spots in your oven may cause some tomatoes to burn while the majority have not finished cooking.
  7. In the meantime, place the reserved juice from the bowl into a pot and slowly boil with some salt and pepper for about five minutes.
  8. Remove the pans from the oven and scrape the tomatoes into a small pile using a wooden spatula and then spoon them into a large bowl. Stir in the cooked tomato juice.
  9. Let cool until room temperature and then ladle into either freezer-safe canning jars or quart-sized freezer bags that have been labeled with the date and contents.
Notes

I’d guess that you shouldn’t roast more than 10lb of tomatoes at a go–if you roast more, all the steam that will spew out of your oven will set off your fire alarm and cause your husband, upon returning home late from work, to ask why the whole kitchen smells. In theory, of course (I certainly don’t know from personal experience or anything like that, ahem…)
I used aluminum foil but next time I’ll try parchment as I’ve had good luck with that for similar purposes in the past and the size I buy makes it easier to line pans with. Make sure whatever you use lines the sides as well so that the juices are caught and don’t scorch–I learned that the hard way by being too stingy with my use of foil.

Homey Tomato Cheddar Pie

Do you know your local Edible Communities magazine?  These inspiring regional magazines focus on local produce, local producers, with beautiful pictures and  a generous helping of great recipes.  This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about a recipe I found in my local edition, and surely won’t be the last.

Since the magazines also spotlight what’s in season in their neck of the woods, it was little surprise that tomatoes were featured in the latest issue.  Though I usually tend towards fruit pies (or tarts!), I jumped at the chance to make a savory version with the tomatoes our neighbors gave us.  (And tomatoes are technically a fruit anyway, so I haven’t strayed too far out of my comfort zone).

Tomato-Pie-Assembly

Incidentally, the fact that our neighbors are swimming in tomatoes while I’ve gotten none seems to indicate I can’t blame the weather for my failed crop.  But let’s not dwell on that.  I do have prolific thyme, however, and used this generously in my pie.

Tomato Cheddar Pie (1 of 6)

This pie is surprisingly easy to make–even if you’re uncertain of your crust-making prowess, you’ll find this dough is easy to roll out.  No fluting or braiding is necessary–uneven torn edges are desirable as they only contribute to is rustic aesthetic.  On the other hand, you’ll want to allow a few hours for this pie to cool–because it is so juicy, it really needs that extra time by itself to set up.  You can eat it before then, just know that it might not hold together all that well on the serving plate.  It won’t affect the taste.

What’s wonderful (and surprising) about this pie is that the tomatoes retain much of their fresh flavor–the slices retain their integrity, and don’t break down (lest you worry that you’ll be eating a giant calzone).  The crust, made with buttermilk (or in my case, yogurt) is little more than a biscuit dough rolled into pie proportions–with an extra handful of cheddar thrown in for good measure.  Enveloping a mix of strong cheddar and toothsome tomatoes, and it doesn’t get more homey than that

Tomato Cheddar Pie (3 of 6)

My tomatoes may not have done well, but my nasturtiums took to our raised bed garden as happily as our thyme–these are the pretty little flowers I’ve strewn around these photos.

Tomato Cheddar Pie (5 of 6)

Homey Tomato Cheddar Pie
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup cold buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Filling:
  • 2 pounds assorted ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced
  • 2½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Lay the tomato slices on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and top with more paper towels to absorb their liquid. Allow to drain for 30 minutes while you make the crust.
  3. In your food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the chopped butter and process until it’s crumbly and pea-sized. (Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to work in the butter, or rub it in with your hands). Whisk the buttermilk and egg together and pour the mixture in through the feeding tube. Stop, add the cheese, and then continue to process until it forms a ball.
  4. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Knead a few times until smooth, then roll out with a floured rolling pin to an 11-12 inch round. Fold into quarters and transfer into a 9-inch pie pan, gently unfold the crust, press into the bottom of the dish, and cover with plastic until ready to fill and set in the fridge.
  5. Stir together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper.
  6. Sprinkle a handful of cheese onto the bottom of the crust and top with a layer of tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper, drizzle on some of the oil-vinegar mix, then top with more cheese and some thyme. Continue making layers like this until all the ingredients are used up, saving the prettiest tomatoes for the top layer. Finish with a layer of cheese and thyme. Fold the overhanging crust onto the top layer of filling, like a crostata. Paint the crust with milk or buttermilk.
  7. Bake until crust is light golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Check halfway through baking to make sure the crust isn’t getting too dark—tent with foil if needed. Allow the pie to rest at least an hour (ideally longer) before serving.

Tomato Cheddar Pie (6 of 6)

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes

Eggplant is a bit funny to deal with.  Unlike most vegetables, it absorbs oil like a sponge, only to release it again.  The texture can be somewhat spongy (styrofoamy?) when raw.  And those who can get past the mouthfeel find themselves complaining about bitterness.    I’ve heard that the older the eggplant, the more of a problem you have on your hands.  I’ve heard more seeds is bad news.  Or to avoid large eggplants.  But I’ve had large eggplants that were fine, and the most repulsively bitter ones I’ve tried could have been confused for habanero peppers (really!).

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes (1 of 15)

The thing is, despite that intro, I’m a big fan of eggplant, but I admit it’s tricky to handle.  When I was in Spain, my host family always salted their eggplants before breading and frying them, so that’s my method of choice (I’ve seen cutting out the seeds mentioned as well).  I admit, though, to sometimes engaging in a bit of Russian roulette and charging on forward without precautionary measures.  I’m here to tell the tale.  And yet…salting is a worthwhile step as it handles the other bugbear, the texture.  The juices are drawn out of your big purple vegetable-fruit, and the slices go from being almost artificially springy to soft and meltingly tender when cooked.

And I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves (well not exactly–I can’t help providing a few tips for salting eggplant I’ve learned along the way).

Salting-Eggplant

It’s amazing to see how much volume is lost in the process, as the pictures above show–firm batons of eggplant start to collapse and soften.  And that’s just the beginning–the next step is to bundle the eggplant in a kitchen towel and squeeze with abandon (or aggression).  You’ll be shocked at how much moisture you manage to wring out.  Throw that stress ball out, and just eat more eggplant!

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes (6 of 15)

The picture above is about half of the eggplant, compacted down after much twisting and pressing.  Please don’t use a paper towel (you’ll drive yourself nuts and waste time picking of little bits of shredded paper that have adhered to your otherwise lovely vegetable), and please do it over the sink!  It’s a few minutes (but only a few) of intense work, but think of it as a down payment on the pancetta, olive oil, and vegetable oil that you’re about to be playing liberally with. (I’ll get to that).  And there’s no harm in taking a little break.

OK, so you know that this recipe I’m going to be talking about just might be featuring eggplant.  And even though eggplant is certainly a vegetable that holds it own as a meat substitute, there’s no reason it can’t share the stage–so I decided to try Marcella Hazan’s recipe for chicken fricasseed with eggplant and fresh tomatoes. Soon I was digging up some chicken parts from my freezer to get a head start on the next day’s meal, and checking my stocks of olive oil and pancetta.  Marcella’s not diet food.

Frying-Eggplant

You could think of this recipe as almost two in one:  the eggplant is fried on its own, while the chicken is sautéed with tomatoes and pancetta.  Only at the last minute do you unite the two, where their flavors instantly meld together.  And since the recipe proceeds on these parallel tracks, you can start one step ahead of the other to get a head start–and in fact I fried up my eggplant in the afternoon, and finished the remainder of the meal quickly before dinner.

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes (11 of 15)

Chicken and eggplant seem an unusual pairing, but the eggplant almost melts into a sauce with the tomatoes, and the pancetta brings all the elements together.  (My husband, who is less enthusiastic about eggplant than I, noted that it’s the pancetta that makes the dish, though he’d probably say that about any meal with pancetta).  While decidedly making the best of late summer produce, it’s a meal that still sticks to your ribs and is deeply satisfying.  And a fitting adieu to summer.

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes (15 of 15)

Adapted from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen

Fricasseed Chicken with Eggplant and Fresh Tomatoes
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 to 2lb eggplant
  • salt
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 to 3lb chicken parts (a whole chicken cut into 10 pieces or chicken pieces to equal this weight)
  • 2T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2c dry white wine
  • 1/4 lb pancetta
  • parsley
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplants into small batons, about 1-inch wide by 3 inches long. Layer into a colander with liberal sprinklings of salt, then toss to further combine. Allow to stand over your sink for about an hour. This draws out the juice and with it, any bitterness in the eggplant.
  2. Peel your tomatoes with a serrated peeler and chop. Chop up the pancetta and garlic as much as you can as well.
  3. Close to the hour mark, pour the olive oil into a deep saute pan and when hot, add the pancetta and garlic. When the garlic just starts to turn pale gold, add the chicken, skin side down. (Ideally, to get beautifully browned chicken you will need to pat the skin dry with paper towels. As you can see, I forgot to do this and it was still delicious, so don’t stress if you forget or don’t get it quite dry enough). Brown the chicken on one side, then the other. Add the wine, and once the alcohol has boiled away, add the tomatoes and parsley. Turn the chicken from time to time while it cooks.
  4. Meanwhile, squeeze the eggplant to draw out any further moisture. As pictured, this is best done with a cloth kitchen towel, and is best done by forcefully kneading and then wringing out the liquid. You will be surprised at how much additional liquid is released, particularly with a fresh eggplant. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep skillet–the original recipe called for pouring in enough oil so as to be 1/2-inch deep, but I got by with far less, perhaps a quarter inch. When it is hot (test it by slipping in a small eggplant piece; it should immediately sizzle) add about a third to a half of your eggplant batons. You do not want to crowd the eggplant as it will not brown as nicely. You also risk lowering the temperature of the oil which will render soggy, oily eggplant. Turn occasionally. When cooked to a golden brown (about 6-7 minutes) remove to a paper towel to drain and continue with the remaining eggplant. (You can prepare the eggplant in advance and refrigerate).
  5. When the chicken is done or nearly done, add the fried eggplant and cook about 5 minutes more. Some of the eggplant may disintegrate into the sauce–this is fine. Serve immediately with more fresh parsley. (Note that the original recipe recommends pouring off some of the fat before adding the eggplant. I didn’t do this though calorie-wise, it would probably have been a good idea).

End-of-Summer Tomato Crumble

I keep seeing “tomato crumble” recipes, and I’ve generally let my eyes scan right past them.  It’s not perhaps for the best of reasons, just:  why would I want a crumble that was not a fruit dessert?  (Yes, yes, tomatoes are technically fruit, but you know what I mean).

But today I realized that my motley mix of cherry-red, striped green, and mustard yellow heirloom tomatoes had been pretty badly bruised en route home from the grocery store.  You can’t waste heirloom tomatoes (or any tomatoes), especially not in September in Massachusetts.  You just can’t.

Why this crumble idea came back to me now, I don’t know.  But I’m glad it did.  Flavorful with the best summer herbs, but still fresh-tasting, because the tomatoes’ relatively short stay in the oven leaves them with a soft-but-firm texture.  I didn’t have a lot of tomatoes to use up, but enough to share with my toddler, who surprisingly was clamoring for more.  Hence the only photo I can offer you is this one.

It went fast.

It’s a quick post because tomato time is winding down, I want to get this out to you, and it’s a Sunday night.  I hope you too are enjoying the last juicy moments of tomato season, and perhaps trying them in new ways too.

End-of-summer tomato crumble

  • 1-1/2 to 2 lb tomatoes (750g-900g or s0), chopped.
  • 1t dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Crumble topping

  • 1c bread crumbs
  • 1t dried marjoram
  • 1t (scant) dried sage
  • 1/4c parmesan, grated (optional)
  • 2-3T olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).  Mix the tomatoes, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Spread in a gratin dish (or other oven safe dish).

Make the crumble by stirring the bread crumbs, sage, marjoram, and parmesan if using together.  Add the olive oil and stir until all crumbs are moistened.  Sprinkle over the tomatoes.

When the oven is preheated, bake for 20 minutes.  (While I didn’t do so, this dish would take well to being assembled beforehand, though perhaps I’d wait until baking to sprinkle the crumble on top).

Note:  I used dried herbs because I had just gotten everyone inside and started lunch–and I didn’t want to chance erasing my gains by running out back again.  You can substitute if you have more forethought than I.