Posts tagged ‘sun-dried tomatoes’

January 15, 2013

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad

sundried tomato pasta salad #voraciousvander

This pasta salad is summer. It’s backyard barbecues and days at the beach.

I hated summer camp as a kid. Loved summer (duh), hated summer camp. I went to one of those day camps with my best friend at the local high school. I mean, we were in a school during the summer – what’s that about?

We spent our days trying to avoid playing volleyball and kickball and sitting around in our overalls, making friendship bracelets and talking about which Now and Then character we were. The highlight of my day was getting a frozen Snickers or a Gatorade from the vending machine.

Another thing I always looked forward to was lunch (yes, some things are very much the same.) I think my mom knew I hated camp, (I may have made it painfully obvious. In fact, that may have been the summer I perfected my signature eye roll.) so she sent me off with some extra special lunches in the summer months. Ones like this one, that I still think about.

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August 17, 2012

Easy Black Olive Tapenade with Roasted Mushrooms

Aren’t families funny things?

One of my favorite things about meeting someone’s family is finding similarities between the person I know and their siblings or parents. I’m not talking creepysimilar (creepysimilar IS a thing) – just little things, like the way a person stands or laughs.

Loving olives is a family trait inherited from the women on my mom’s side. I know, I know lots of people love olives or whatever, but our love runs deep, people.

At family gatherings, there’s always a bowl teaming with green olives that’s set out before anything else. By the time the main meal rolls around, the dish will have exactly one sad-looking olive left, swimming in the salty juice. I’m talking an entire XL-sized jar gone. Weirdly, none were eaten by the menfolk, but by all the ladies – from my grandma on down to the youngest granddaughter – each one is a salty olive fanatic.

Real talk: this little sandwich combo was an elaborate excuse to make olive tapenade. The easiest black olive tapenade. Like if you have some pesto and a jar of olives, you’re in business kind of easy.

I chose black olives for their milder flavor – they mix with the pesto nicely, neither over-powering the other. I suspect a mix of kalamata and black olives with the pesto would be pretty excellent too.

You can eat it with crackers, crudites or on pasta, too.

AND! you can make it vegan friendly if you make your own pesto – simply omit the Parmesan cheese or sub in nutritional yeast.

Easy Black Olive Tapenade
– 1/2 cup pitted black olives
– 2 tablespoons pesto (homemade or your favorite store-bought brand)

Place your ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until it forms a slightly chunky, spreadable paste. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for a week. Freeze for 3 months.

Roasted Mushrooms
– baby portabella mushrooms, whole (you can use larger mushroom caps too, the baking time is just slightly longer)
– olive oil
– thyme
– salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 F/ 205 C.

Toss mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the mushrooms and bake for another 3-5 minutes until cooked through and soft.

Make a sandwich: Spread olive tapenade on toasted or grilled bread, top with mushrooms and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. A little feta or goats cheese wouldn’t be a bad idea either – if you’re not keeping it vegan.

June 28, 2012

Eggplant Sun-dried Tomato Spread

I got two plump eggplants in my vegetable box last week, which I thought was odd…considering it’s winter here. This week I got fresh peas. And strawberries. And brussels sprouts. Aaaand I officially have no grasp on the Australian growing cycle.

Nothing to do but roll with it.

Make this spread to eat on toast or crackers, chicken or fish, over pasta, rice, quinoa, pizza or with eggs. Stir in some chickpeas or white beans to give it a protein boost.

If you like creamy eggplant and sweet roasted garlic, make this immediately. It’s easy to put together, packed with good Mediterranean flavors and tastes great warm, cold or at room temperature. And in all seasons.

Eggplant and Sun-dried Tomato Spread
(very slightly adapted from Gourmet)

- 1/2 head garlic
– 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch/1 cm pieces
– 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (3 ounces), chopped, plus 2 tablespoons tomato oil
– 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C.

Cut off and discard the bottom (the woody end) of garlic head to expose cloves. Brush top of head with olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Cool to warm, then squeeze garlic cloves from half of the skins into a small bowl, discarding skins. (Reserve the other half for other things like this or this.)

Meanwhile, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a large colander. Let sit for 30 minutes. Squeeze eggplant in a kitchen towel to remove excess liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, saute half of eggplant until browned and tender, about 6-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Cook the other half of the eggplant in olive oil the same way, transferring to bowl.

Add 1 cup cooked eggplant to garlic and coarsely mash together. Stir into remaining eggplant with sun-dried tomatoes (without tomato oil), parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle with tomato oil and serve.

March 23, 2012

Egg Bakes with Mushroom, Potato and Sage

Five minutes before I leave for the grocery store I review my list of things like dish soap, paper towels, shower gel, tissues…you know, boring non-food things.

30 minutes later I return with: two types of herbal tea, one Cadbury Creme Egg, a medium-sized jar of Nutella ($2 off!), Romaine lettuce and some marinated feta.

See what I did there? I completely ignored the boring list and skipped right to all the good stuff that we may or may not actually need.

What happened over that period of time, you might wonder, in which a normally clear-headed person completely glazed over and abandoned all responsibility in favor of childish, irrelevant purchases?

I don’t have a good excuse. All I can say is I love to food shop.

I deplore things like shoe shopping, furniture shopping, or anything in a department store. Give me a specialty cheese shop, a farmers market or a huge Whole Foods any day.

I slowly pace up and down each of the aisles (except the ones with cleaning supplies. Who needs that shiz?) making sure I don’t miss a good bargain or something totally crazy that I didn’t even know about. (Reese’s Ice Magic Shell! Feta marinated with preserved lemon and herbs?!)

Sometimes all this excitement gets in the way of the task at hand as I am left powerless to all of the enticing produce.

For serious shopping excursions I try to organize the supervision of Mr. F. Luckily, he’s good at remembering boring cleaning items and encouraging chocolate purchases. Add in the fact that he tolerates my borderline crazy food obsession and that’s what I call a happy partnership.

In order to clear room in our fridge for all the impulse-buys, I like to use leftover cooked vegetables to make individual egg bakes. A little ramekin with a perfect just-set egg nestled on top gives the leftovers a total makeover.

Technically the veggies don’t have to be leftover, but just a little pre-cooked.

I had leftover roasted potatoes, so to those I added mushrooms sautéed with shallots, sage and rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes, then cracked an egg on top. A sunny egg yolk makes everything more awesome. Fact.

Mushroom, Potato and Sage Egg Bakes
(Serves 2)

- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
– 1 shallot, finely chopped
– 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
– 1 cup leftover roast potatoes, diced into small pieces*
– 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, packed in their own oil, drained
– 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
– 2 eggs
– salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F. Lightly grease the ramekins with a little bit of olive oil or butter.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes until translucent.

Add mushrooms, sage and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and slightly golden, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook an additional 2 minutes to heat through.

Remove from heat and stir in sun-dried tomatoes.

Divide the mixture between two 1-cup ramekins, making a slight well in the center. Crack an egg over each.

Bake for about 10 minutes until egg is just set. Serve with good crusty bread.

*Notes:
I used leftover roasted potatoes. You can cook your potatoes quickly by cutting them into very small cubes and cooking them in the large pan before you add the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in the pan over a medium-high heat and cook potatoes covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Continue the recipe by adding the mushrooms and cooking with the potatoes, until they are soft and golden brown.

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