Creamy Roasted Tomato-Garlic Soup

I usually need grilled cheese as a bribe for my family to enjoy tomato soup for dinner. My daughter loved this soup even more than the grilled cheese! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Carolina Gelen. I modified the method and proportions. It was a quick dinner packed with flavor. Perfect with our grilled cheese sandwiches and giant green salad.

We swirled pesto into the soup just before serving. Additional cream or crème fraîche could also be added.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1300 grams grape or cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 to 4 sprigs of basil
  • 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 1 or 2 red chiles, optional (I omitted it)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream (I used one 13.5 oz can of coconut milk), plus more for serving, as desired
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • homemade or store-bought pesto, for serving, optional
  • grilled cheese sandwiches or fresh bread, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F (230°C). (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Drizzle some oil into a deep baking dish. (I used a large enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  3. Add in the tomatoes, onion, basil and thyme, and chile (if using). Drizzle more olive oil on top, plus a big sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix to coat. Add the garlic cloves, cut side down, nestled into the other ingredients.
  4. Roast for 25 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly charred. (I roasted mine for 38 minutes.)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme. Remove garlic cloves from the papery skin.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients to a blender, along with the coconut milk and stock. (I used a Vitamix on the hot soup setting.) Remove the little plug from the blender lid, then cover the lid with a kitchen towel and blend until smooth.
  7. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Adjust consistency with additional stock, as needed.
  8. Serve drizzled with pesto and/or cream with a grilled cheese sandwich and green salad, as desired.

Peruvian Stir-Fried Chicken & Noodles (Tallarín Saltado)

This chicken and noodle stir-fry dish, tallarín saltado, is a classic Peruvian dish. According to Milk Street, simple stir-fry dishes like this are a staple of the Chinese-influenced cuisine known as chifa. Chifa cuisine combines South American and East Asian flavors and ingredients.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street, contributed by Malcolm Jackson. Jackson uses balsamic vinegar in place of the more traditional red wine vinegar and substitutes a jalapeño or Fresno chile for the ají amarillo chile that would be used in Peru. The dish was fresh, fast and fabulous. We loved it!

We ate the stir-fry with roasted broccoli- a strange combination- but it was ultimately a nice compliment. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6

  • 12 ounces spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 T oyster sauce
  • 3 T light soy sauce
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 4 T grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 5), trimmed and cut into 3/4 strips
  • 1 large red onion, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 Fresno or jalapeño chile, stemmed, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to serve
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Meanwhile, prep all remaining ingredients.
  2. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water; cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain. (I cooked my pasta for 5 minutes.)
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce, soy sauce and vinegar; set aside.
  4. In a 14-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. (I used a stainless steel skillet.)
  5. Add the chicken, onion, and garlic, distributing the ingredients evenly, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, without stirring, until the chicken is well browned on the bottom and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. (See Tip)
  6. Add the oyster sauce mixture and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the bell pepper and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Off heat, stir in the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Place half of the stir-fry in a serving bowl and sprinkle with half of the cilantro. Repeat with the remaining stir-fry and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side, as desired.

Tip: Don’t stir the chicken too soon after adding it to the skillet. Left undisturbed, it forms a fond, or browned bits that stick to the skillet. The dish’s flavor develops when the oyster sauce mixture deglazes that fond. After adding the pasta water, stir vigorously; this helps the sauce come together.

Shortcut Creamed Spinach

Oh my… this silky side can be prepared dangerously easily. We loved it too.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Julia Langbein. I modified the proportions. Although it was fabulously creamy, I would incorporate less crème fraîche next time.

The original recipe notes that heavy cream and fresh lemon juice could be substituted for the crème fraîche for a similar flavor profile. I personally loved the tanginess from the crème fraîche.

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (16 oz) spinach (mature or baby spinach)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crème fraîche (I used 3/4 cup but would start with 1/2 cup next time)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. (I used a stainless steel sauté pan.)
  2. Cook the garlic cloves, stirring occasionally, until golden around edges and very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add spinach, by the handful, stirring and letting it wilt slightly after each addition. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, if desired.
  4. Cook spinach, stirring often, until mostly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1/2 cup crème fraîche; stir until spinach is saucy and coated. Add more, as desired.
  6. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Gnocchi Scampi

This is a quick and delicious- lemony and garlicky- one-pan dish. I now realize that I prefer pan-seared gnocchi over boiled. It was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Great.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet, modified the method, and doubled the garlic. It was a perfect meal served with a big green salad. We didn’t have any leftovers!

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound gnocchi (fresh, frozen or shelf-stable) (I used Trader Joe’s shelf-stable)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1/2 cup cup dry white wine, clam juice, or stock (I used chicken stock)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, shelled (I used tail-on 21-25 count)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  1. In a large, preferably nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  2. Add gnocchi to the pan, breaking up any that are stuck together. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, tossing every 1 to 2 minutes, so they get golden and crispy all over. Transfer to a bowl or plate. (I reduced the heat to medium half-way through this step.)
  3. In the same skillet over medium-high, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and all of the butter, letting it melt for a few seconds.
  4. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Add wine/stock/clam juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and all of the red-pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, and let the liquid reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add shrimp and sauté until they just start to turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size.
  7. Return gnocchi to the pan and add another 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a Microplane or other fine grater, quickly grate the zest from the lemon into the pan.
  8. Add chopped parsley, tossing well. If your pan looks dry, add a splash of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing to combine, then remove pan from the heat. (I didn’t have to add any additional liquid.)
  9. Cut the zested lemon in half and squeeze in the juice from one half, gently tossing to combine. Taste and add more salt if you like. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges for serving.
  10. Drizzle with more olive oil and more red-pepper flakes, if desired, and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Pepper Jelly-Glazed Grilled Chicken with Peppers

Trader Joe’s stocks their sweet and spicy pepper jelly in the fall for the holiday season- just in time for this quick and tasty weeknight meal.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite,” contributed by Molly Stevens. I served the chicken and peppers over a bed of rice to absorb the drippings and grilled lime juice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 limes
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds 5 ounces)
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 4 long green bell peppers (CSA), poblano, or Anaheim chiles (10 to 12 oz)
  • 10 to 12 shishito peppers (6 to 8 oz)
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
  • Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F).
  2. Cut limes in half. Squeeze 1 lime into a small bowl to equal 2 tablespoons juice; set juice aside and discard juiced lime halves.
  3. Sprinkle chicken all over with coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and red pepper flakes; rub evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Set aside.
  4. Brush long peppers/poblano/Anaheim chiles, shishito peppers, scallions, and cut sides of remaining 4 lime halves evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
  5. Whisk together pepper jelly and reserved 2 tablespoons lime juice in a small bowl.
  6. Arrange long peppers/poblano/Anaheim chiles, shishito peppers, scallions, and limes, cut side down, on un-oiled grill grates. Grill, uncovered, turning scallions often, chiles and peppers occasionally, and leaving limes undisturbed, until gently charred, 3 to 4 minutes for scallions and limes, 4 to 5 minutes for shishito peppers, and 6 to 8 minutes for chiles. (It took even longer on my grill to char the vegetables.)
  7. Transfer charred chiles, peppers, scallions, and limes to a baking sheet, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  8. Arrange chicken thighs on un-oiled grates; grill, covered, until nicely browned and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meat registers 165°F, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  9. Brush tops of chicken thighs generously with some of the pepper jelly glaze, and grill, uncovered, until glaze is sizzling, about 1 minute.
  10. Flip chicken, and repeat with second side. Remove chicken from grill.
  11. Place grilled chicken and vegetables on a platter over a bed of cooked Basmati rice.
  12. Squeeze grilled lime halves over chicken, chiles, peppers, and scallions.

Rigatoni Amatriciana

We may have a new favorite pasta dish in my house! I have already made this dish a couple of times. We didn’t even miss the garlic. 😉 It is an incredible version of the classic- a perfect weeknight dish.

The recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, inspired by sommelier Arjav Ezekiel, co-owner of Birdie’s in Austin, contributed by Anna Theoktisto. We ate it with our favorite garlic bread and green salad, of course.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (4 oz) package chopped pancetta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 2/3 cup), plus more for serving
  • 3/4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely shredded (about 1/4 cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in pancetta; cook, stirring often, until pancetta begins to render, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in crushed red pepper.
  5. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, crush tomatoes; add tomatoes and their juices to skillet. Bring to a boil over medium; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, until flavors meld and mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.
  7. While sauce cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add rigatoni, and cook according to package instructions for al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  8. Add rigatoni, 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, and butter to sauce in skillet.
  9. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat, and garnish with parsley. Serve with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino Romano cheeses, as desired.

Basil Vinaigrette

I used my beautiful CSA basil to make this flavorful vinaigrette. We ate it drizzled over my CSA tomatoes and cucumbers from a friend. We also enjoyed it on sourdough baguette slices. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Rubel Jacobson. The original recipe notes that it would also be great on grilled chicken or fish, on corn, or in pasta or panzanella salad.

Yield: Makes 1/3 cup

  • 1 small garlic clove 
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 1 1/2 to 2 T sherry or Champagne vinegar 
  • pinch of crushed red pepper 
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until chopped.
  2. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the oil, vinegar and crushed red pepper and process until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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