Category: tomato

Frittata Frittata

Is there anything prettier than a frittata? When done right, this easy meal makes for a stellar sunday brunch centrepiece. The awesome thing about these that the variation possibilities are endless. Veggies, meats, cheeses… Mix and match your favourite combo, arrange it in the dish, pour your egg mixture over it, bake, and voila! Frittata magic.

Some of my favourite variations:

Smoked gouda & figs
Olives, arugula & feta
Pears & brie
Bell peppers, cheddar & mushrooms
Cheddar & apple
Chard & chile

So go ahead, impress your guests & get your frittata on!

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Frittata
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
6 large eggs
1/4 cup cream (15% or higher)
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 log goat cheese, crumbled
salt, pepper & fresh thyme
oil or butter, for greasing

method
Whisk cornstarch into cream. Whisk eggs with cream mixture until frothy. Mix in goat cheese, spinach and spices. Pour into greased 9″ or 10″ shallow round baking dish. Arrange cherry tomatoes on top. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes, until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve hot.

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have written some of the most delicious recipes that I have ever tried. The pair have a way of taking whole foods and transforming them into vibrant, flavourful dishes that absolutely never disappoint. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the duo, they are the co-authors of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published two excellent vegetarian books, Plenty, and Plenty More, collections of recipes from his vegetarian newspaper column over at the Guardian. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I flip one of these gorgeous books open, scan around, and stop at whatever catches my eye, or whatever suits the vegetables in my fridge. I am in no way affiliated with these authors, and this isn’t a promotion. This is just a little fangirl blogging about her biggest inspirations!

This weekend, I was invited to a very meat-centric potluck dinner, so I felt it appropriate to provide a hearty vegetarian option for those of us who are slightly less carnivorous. I wanted to make something simple, but that had a complex flavour profile. Enter this colourful dish – stewed chickpeas with caramelized sweet potatoes. Sounds simple, but Oh. Baby. I want to eat this stuff all day, erry day. Now, note that you can probably make this vegan by subbing coconut oil for the butter, but really, if there’s ever a time to use butter, that time is now. Replacing it would be, just… well, it would be just OK. It would kinda be like the difference between going to see a Stones cover band, or seeing the actual Rolling Stones. The butter is Mick Jagger. You just won’t get the same satisfaction. (See what I did there? Ok, ok, I’ll get on with it.)

This recipe is a variation of the recipe titled Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato (Ottolenghi, 82.) In the spirit of respecting intellectual property, I always like to give credit to those recipe authors who have inspired me, so, thank you kindly, Ottolenghi & Tamimi. You made my potluck dish a big hit!

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato
serves 3 to 4 people

ingredients
500g sweet potato, cubed
50g salted butter
4 tbsp honey
3 cups water

3 tbsp oil
1 small onion (or about 6 shallots), finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can (591ml) chopped, unseasoned tomatoes (no salt added is preferable)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mango powder (found in most spice stores, Indian or Asian grocers, or bulk stores.)
(note: if you can’t find mango powder, 1 tsp of lemon juice or zest will also work.)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper, to taste (use more if you like it spicy!)
salt, to taste

method
In a wide pot, bring water with potatoes, butter and honey to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and continue to cook until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan. Add onions or shallots, and cook over medium heat, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and corriander seeds. Continue cooking until onions are brown and have reduced, about 3 more minutes. Add ketchup and stir, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add canned tomatoes with their juice. Add ginger, cumin and mango powder. Stir well. When mixture starts to bubble, add chickpeas and spinach. Continue to cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add cilantro after about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add cayenne , a little at a time, until you’ve reached your preferred level of heat. By this time, your potatoes should be ready, or almost there. Once they are, pour them into the pan, along with their buttery juices. Scrape as much of the browned butter into the pan as possible. Give it one nice, gentle stir.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Vegan "Meat" Sauce with Lentils

I got 99 posts, but a meat sauce ain’t one! (Well, until now!)

You guys! This is my 99th post! Are you as excited as I am? Well, you should be. Because this is by far the best of the best. I mean, this is some real stick-to-your-ribs, blow-your-socks-off, even-ravenous-carnivores-will-love-it saucy sauce. Even my boyfriend, the lover of all things meat, declared this sauce to be “so meaty!”

Do you need any more reasons to make this right now? Really? Alright. Here are 10 reasons you should make this sauce: It’s hearty. It’s tasty. It’s spicy. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It’s vegan. Low sodium. Soy-free. Gluten-free. No added sugar. And, for all of those worried about protein intake, it’s an excellent source of the good stuff!

Serious winning all around.

One of my favourite things about this sauce is how quick and easy the process is. Chop up your ingredients, toss ’em into your slow cooker, set it, and forget it! Let your kitchen, and your house, smell like you’ve been slaving over the stove all day (when really, you’ve just been doing other important things, like catching up on some Netflix.)

Ok, ok. I’ll spare you more blab and just get right to the recipe – so that you can get right to it and cook!

Hearty Vegan Slow Cooked “Meat” Sauce
with lentils, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes
a.k.a AWESOME SAUCE
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1 medium red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown or green lentils (dried)
1 large can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped pitted mammoth green olives
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small green chile peppers (or more, if you like a spicy sauce!)
1 tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning mix (or a mix 1/2 tbsp paprika (not smoked), and 1/2 tbsp herbes de province)

method
Mix all ingredients together in slow cooker. Set on high for 3 hours. Remove lid, stir. If you notice it is starting to become too dry, add a few tbsp of water until desired consistency is reached. Return lid to pot and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 hours. Lentils will be tender and sauce will darken in colour.

Ways to serve it

  • On top of pasta
  • Mixed in with rice
  • On bread (as bruschetta)
  • With a spoon




Mid-East Feast (Roasted Squash with Cardamom)

Walking through the Plateau in Montreal on a friday night is always a new adventure. I love to immerse myself in the hubbub – which exists in large part thanks to the plethora of ethnic restaurants, trendy cafes and re-vapmed dive bars that line the streets. Whichever side of the world you’re from, you’re guaranteed to find a restaurant in this city that has what you’re looking for. And, if you’re in the mood to try new things, you will never be short on options.

Many people have voiced to me in the past their discontent with my vegetarianism (whether directly or indirectly) as it is an “inconvenience” to have to cater to my needs. To that sentiment I say, “Ha!” Being a vegetarian should never be viewed as limiting – it should instead be viewed as exciting: an excuse to get creative and try new food! I was quite excited when a friend suggested that we check out this funky looking place on Duluth, Khyber Pass, an Afghan restaurant with a number of  appealing meat-free menu items.

The food itself was similar to many of the middle-eastern dishes that I’ve tried before – looking around, I spotted many different rices and stews, I noted the common use of onions, tomatoes and legumes. What stood out to me however was the combination of spices and flavours. I immediately recognized the unique taste of cardamom in my main dish – and I absolutely loved it. I’ve only ever used cardamom in teas or in desserts before, never in anything savory. What a fantastic spice! The flavour complimented the sweet earthy squash, balanced out with the acidity of tomato, and softened with a hint of yogourt. I just HAD to re-create this dish at home. And I did – with great simplicity and success.


Roasted Butternut Squash 
with Sweet Tomato Sauce and Cardamom
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup basic tomato sauce*
2 tbsp real maple syrup
3 tsp cardamom powder / ground cardamom

for the garnish (optional)
1 tbsp plain yogourt
Roasted squash seeds

how to do it
Peel and cube squash, removing seeds. (Set seeds aside if roasting). Toss squash with olive oil. Wrap squash in parchment paper {How to: Cut double the length of parchment paper you’d need to line a 8×8” Pyrex dish. Place parchment in middle of dish and place squash inside. Fold paper over so that the squash is covered (the idea is not to let any of the squash be exposed.)} Poke holes in the parchment. Bake at 385F for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, cardamom and maple syrup. Once cooked, remove squash from parchment and place directly into pyrex dish while still hot. Coat with tomato sauce mixture. Return to oven uncovered and bake for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with yogourt and roasted squash seeds. Enjoy!

*For the tomato sauce, you can make your own, or shortcut and use some good quality store-bought. I used Classico Tomato and Basil and it tasted wonderful. To make your own tomato sauce, scroll to the bottom of the following post: Drunken Tomato Sauce

Move Over, Minnestrone (Vegetable Soup)

I am generally not a soup person. The idea of having something that’s both liquidy and chunky at the same time on my spoon just doesn’t jive in my head, nor does it feel right in my mouth. That being said, there have always been a few exceptions: matzah ball soup, for one. And, well, who can resist clam chowdah (…in a bread bowl, in San Francisco, at that?) Otherwise, soup is rarely a headliner, neither a sidekick on my table.

However, today, while staring blankly into my fridge as I often do, I found myself staring at my box of vegetable stock and slightly craving a warm cup of broth to soothe my sore throat. Known to some as Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup has been widely known as the go-to meal for generations of cold and flu sufferers. However, my lack of wanting to eat chicken, combined with the medley of vegetables in my refrigerator that have decided to wilt in unison, inspired me to stir up a vegetable-based bouillon.
Chop. Pour. Simmer. Who knew three simple steps could release the most magical aroma into the air? 
Soon after, I sat on the couch, sipping the magical masterpiece with my roommate while discussing possible names for my most fantastic creation. His favorite part was the sweetness provided by the corn, whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the colourful combination. 
I suggested “Rainbow Soup.” 
He said, “That’s corny.”
I laughed. Hard. 

Corny Rainbow Soup
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 box vegetable broth (I used Campbells)
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 can sweet corn
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp red pepper (chilli) flakes (Optional)
how to do it
Toss diced vegetables into pot. Cover with broth.  Heat on medium. Once soup comes to a boil, add corn & red pepper flakes & stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. 
Serve garnished with shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese, if desired. 

A Summer Toast (Tomato Basil Canapes)

Hats off (or, if you’re fair skinned like me, hats on) to my very favorite friend, Summertime. This summer, I’ve got my health in mind more than ever. So far, I’ve begun the season on a good foot. I’m on my way to achieving some fitness goals (I’m now able to run almost 2k without stopping!) Also, seeing as the (typical Montreal) bipolar weather hasn’t allowed me to obtain much of a tan, I’ve decided to embrace my paleness and accept that it’s healthier, and that I’m avoiding skin cancer. I say that as I type this in the sunshine. With SPF… 8… Moving on!

Most importantly, I’ve been cooking and eating healthier (minus the almost nightly trips to the ice cream shop… what? It’s summer, I’m allowed. Stop judging. You’re jealous.)  I’ve always found that eating light in the summer is easy, because of the abundance of fresh produce, and the absence of the desire to cook anything that involves a hot oven. Goodbye are the days of heavy potato stews, creamy casseroles and hefty roasts. Hello to the days of garden salads, fresh corn and fruit parfaits.

Now that I’ve embraced cooking for one, I actually enjoy making myself something fancy looking from time to time. For instance, on this lovely sunny afternoon, I was inspired by the basil plant growing wildly in my garden. Today is the perfect day for a basil toast, I thought to myself. While at first I had the intention of chopping the fresh basil and sprinkling it over some cold tomato sauce, I decided it would be even more ‘summery’ of me to chop up some fresh cherry tomatoes.
And well, toast just isn’t toast without a little bit of cheese now is it?

3 minutes later, I had this masterpiece.
20 minutes later, I ate it. (Taking pictures is a process!)

Tomato Basil Toasts with Cheese 
& Grenadine Lemonade  
an original recipe by allison sklar 

what you’ll need 
note: multiply quantities by the number of people you’ll be serving.

toasts:
1 medium slice rye bread
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 slice Jarlsberg (or swiss) cheese
(would also work nicely with goat’s cheese
1 large basil leaf, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp light olive oil

lemonade:
1 cup club soda or sparkling water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grenadine
ice cubes

how to do it

Toasts: Place cheese on bread, top with tomatoes. Place in toaster oven for 3 minutes, or until cheese melts and tomatoes begin to wilt. Remove, and sprinkle basil leaves on top. Drizzle with oil & vinegar. Would also work well in conventional oven, on broiler setting for 1 to 2 minutes.
Note: this recipe is not intended for use in the microwave.

Lemonade: Mix all ingredients and enjoy immediately. Preferably under the sun.

Rockin’ the Roquette

Nothing says summer like a fresh, hot corn on the cob. Sitting around with friends at a cookout, rolling the cobs in butter, burning the tips of my fingers. Chomping down, sucking out each and every kernel until it’s filled up all of the gaps in my teeth. Sweet sweet corn, how I’ve missed thee.
Though tonight, there is no cookout, there is no sunshine, and there is no BBQ. No. Tonight, I find myself alone in the kitchen, eating cereal out of a box, staring at a package of baby arugula. I reluctantly open the finnicky plastic cover, pull out a leaf, and chew on it… within 5 seconds,  I’m reaching for a glass of water, and shoveling more Shreddies into my mouth to mask the peppery bitter taste.
Why did I buy arugula? 
I’ve never enjoyed “spring mix” salad, and now I know why. But I have a whole conatiner of it! And I hate for good food to go to waste. I see so many blogs with roquette salads, roquette garnishes on filet mignons, arugula topped sandwiches. If I want to be a real foodie, I think, I must find a way to eat this cute little leaf.
And then it dawns on me – warm it up! I think back to the time that I ate a handful of raw rapini and thought that I had been poisoned. “IT TASTES LIKE BURNING!” I screamed. “QUICK! LOOK UP IF IT’S EDIBLE!” Oh, Dr. Google, what would I do without you?
I eventually learned that the trick to quelling the bitterness of these veggies is to cook them. (Nevertheless, I dared not touch rapini again, for fear of re-living that awful afternoon.)
That’s it! I’ll cook the arugula! And I’ll do it in the microwave. Because, well, I’m alone, and nobody is watching. Go ahead, judge. Then try it for yourself, and apologize for judging.
Done and done.

Warm Roquette Salad with Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese
what you’ll need
•    1 ½ cups baby arugula (also known as roquette or rocket)
•    ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
•    1 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
•    1 cob fresh corn
how to do it
Cook corn in microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, on high for about 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss roquette and cherry tomatoes into a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds on high, or until tomatoes start to wilt. Carefully cut kernels off corncob and toss into bowl. Add cheese, tossing until coated. Note: This salad needs no dressing, as the cheese does the trick, but if you’re an oil fanatic, you could drizzle a tiny bit of light olive oil on top. Eat and enjoy!