A lot of you probably already know about broiled peppers, but if you’ve never done it, it’s going to be a revelation. The big, meaty peppers we’re getting this week are perfect for broiling. Red and yellow ones are best, but even green peppers take on a whole new level of sweetness when broiled. For some reason, these are often called roasted peppers, even when they are cooked in the broiler. Some people achieve the same effect by holding the pepper over an open flame and turning it until it chars; I always burn my fingers when I try to do it that way.
Broiling peppers is easy. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and flatten them slightly. Place them on a cookie sheet, skin side up, close but not touching. Place them under a broiler—close to the flame but not touching. Broil for about 5 minute, then keep checking them. When the skin is black and blistered, take them out and let them cool. The skin will peel off easily, The flesh is now soft and juicy. I eat these just as they are; some people toss them with oil and vinegar. They’re a great side dish all by themselves, but also can be added to salads, soups, and pasta. Pureed, with a little cream, they’re an amazing dip. Thin it a little, and you have a soup that is incredibly flavoful, low-cal, and low-cost
Broiled peppers—or the dips and soups—freeze well. The texture is not as good when they’re thawed, but they’re still fine for pureeing.
BROILED PEPPER DIP—makes about ½ cup
Flesh from two large peppers—red, green, yellow, or a mixture
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar—red, balsamic, or any flavorful vinegar
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Put everything into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
–Add capers or olives before you puree or chop them into the finished dip
–Add a handful of chopped nuts, either before or after pureeing
–Season with soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
–Add chopped garlic or chives (even leeks or onions); herbs such as thyme, basil and summer savory are also good additions
–Thin with milk, cream, or vegetable stock to make a soup; serve hot or cold, with croutons or chopped vegetables.
There’s a limit to how many fresh tomatoes we can eat and some of us are bumping up against it. But tomatoes are the perfect candidates for preservation. They can be preserved by small-batch canning methods—and won’t take up freezer space—or slow-roasted until they are condensed into tiny packages of deep, rich tomato flavor that can fit into corners of an already-stuffed freezer.
Oil a large cookie sheet. Full disclosure: I usually line it with foil to avoid the messy cleanup, which is a very unsustainable thing to do.
Slice tomatoes into ½-inch rounds. Smaller tomatoes can be cut in half, the bigger ones should be cut into slices. You can cut out the cores before or after roasting. Place the tomatoes on the oiled pan, packing as closely as possible. It’s ok to overlap a bit because they will shrink as they roast.
Drizzle a bit of oil over the tomatoes; I use about 2 tbs for a big sheet. A misto is perfect for this. Sprinkle kosher salt (or whatever salt you have) over the tomatoes, just a few grains on each slice. I usually sprinkle a bit of brown sugar (again, just a few grains on each tomato slice, maybe 1 tbs for the entire sheet) as well. Then put a tiny bit of basil (thyme or parsley or a combination are also good) on each piece.
Put the cookie sheets in the oven at low temperature—150 to 200 degrees, depending on how low your oven goes. Leave them for several hours or overnight (in my tiny apartment, the fragrance reaches every corner and I dream about picking tomatoes and basil; neighbors sometimes ring my bell and ask for some). When they’re done—which will depend on the thickness of the tomatoes and the temperature of your oven—they will be shriveled and much smaller, but not burnt (except for the ones that you cut too thin). Let them cool, use what you need now and transfer the rest to small ziplock bags and freeze—remove skins and cores at this point if you haven’t already done it. Don’t forget to capture the juice—use in a vinaigrette or soup. Or put it in a bowl and dunk bread in it—it will be gone in no time.
There are many ways to make tomato sauce; here are two recipes I’ve used.
1. From The Guardian. You’ll find lots of options/variations on their website:
About 2 pounds of ripe fresh tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sugar, preferably brown
Dash of red-wine vinegar
3 stems of fresh basil
Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and leave for about a minute, until the skins split. Lift out and peel, then roughly chop.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat and add the chopped onion. Soften for about five to seven minutes, until translucent but not coloured. Stir in the garlic and cook for another two minutes.
Add the tomatoes, and break up with a wooden spoon if necessary, then add the sugar, vinegar and the stems of the basil, reserving the leaves. Season lightly.
Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.
Test the seasoning, add the basil leaves, roughly torn.
2. From Food52.com; this is Marcella Hazan’s recipe, with some additional notes;
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below
5 tbs unsaled butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste
Put the prepared fresh in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce
fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (or other varieties, if they are equally ripe and truly fruity, not watery)
The blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces.
The freezing method (from David Tanis, via The Kitchn): Freeze tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw again, either on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
The food mill method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.
AFTER THE SAUCE IS MADE
Sauces will last in tightly covered containers for about two weeks. Or, you can preserve for up to six months in a steam canner. I’m not going to tell you how to do it and I’m not going to tell you that there are not risks involved. Here are the official USDA site that gives instructions, that shoud be followed carefully:
CHOPPED SALADS AND SALSAS
We have everything we need for chopped salads and salsas in our shares tonight; all you need is a sharp knife, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. The peppers (including a little bit of hot pepper if you like some heat), tomatoes, and cucumbers can be chopped into small dice. A splash of vinegar and oil, salt and pepper—and you have a great appetizer or side salad. The cilantro can be added as well.
In Israel, and throughout the Middle East, this recipe is as common as mac ‘n’ cheese is in America. No one shops for the ingredients—you use what’s in the refrigerator. Tomatoes and eggs are the only constants. Lately, I’ve seen this dish popping up in recipe columns and restaurants, usually with complicated ingredient lists and instructions. But it can be made simply and with whatever you happen to have.
1. Heat oil in a large skillet (for a 4-serving recipe, an 11-inch skillet; for one or two servings, an 8 or 9-inch skillet is enough). Add chopped garlic, onion/leek/shallot/scallion and herbs/spices (cumin is often recommended) to flavor the oil. I’m not going to give quantities—use whatever feels right or whatever you happen to have). Saute for a minute or two.
2. Chop whatever vegetables you have and add to the mix; eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, peppers, greens. If you’re using firmer vegetables, such as carrots, put them in first and give them more time. Eggplant also needs more time to lose its sponginess. The greens can be added in the last minute or two. Cook the vegetables, stirring every minute or so, until they are all soft. Add 1/4-½ cup of vegetable stock or water if it starts to stick.
3. Add two large tomatoes, chopped (about a pound for two servings, 2 pounds for 4 servings). Stir until the tomatoes lose their shape and the whole things because sauce-y. It needs to be fairly loose—add some broth/water if it’s too thick to hold the eggs that will be added in the last step.
Or, instead of adding fresh tomatoes, you can add about 3-4 cups of fresh or canned tomato sauce or tomatoes. It’s easier, but with all the fresh tomatoes we have, I would just use the fresh ones.
4. Add salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices to taste. Stir and adjust liquid. You might also add grated cheese at this point.
5. Crack one or two eggs for each serving into the hot mixture. The eggs will begin to set right away. It will take about 4-5 minutes until they are fully poached. By this time, the vegetable mixture will be firm as well. Cut into wedges and transfer to plates. Serve over couscous, rice, or another grain for a full meal.
You could also move the skillet into a pre-heated oven after adding the eggs, but I find that they poach just as well on top of the stove.
If you prefer to follow a more exact recipe, here is one from Melissa Clark, NYT: