Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stuffed Tomatoes à la Grecque

Here's another outing with Indie Plate ingredients. Indie Plate is a Baton Rouge, La.-based grocery delivery service, sourcing from farms and artisans all around the regions and then bringing that bounty straight to your doorstep.

Rotten tomatoes you toss at things you find odious and offensive (like bad movies, for instance). Fresh, local treasure those babies. You find a way to spotlight that natural sweetness and bright color.

And then I guess you eat them or whatever. Your mileage may vary!

To glorify my lovely tomato babies (which came from Morrow Farm out of Ponchatoula, La.) I turned to the masterful Gastronomique. French cooking can be daunting, no lie, but the recipe for stuffed tomatoes à la grecque was simple enough and served my aim to make something simple, well-spiced, and pleasing to the eye.

My one problem: someone stole my damn saffron. I am just mad about saffron (that is, my kitchen's current lack of it)! (It is probably not stolen. I misplace things.) So anyway, I substituted turmeric and the world moved on.

Ultimately, I produced two tomatoes teeming with toasted, spiced rice and golden raisins. And now you'll be able to as well! Recipe follows.

Stuffed Tomatoes à la grecque (from LaRousse's Gastronomique)
Serves 2 as side or appetizer.

Ingredients:2 homegrown tomatoes
1/2 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup golden raisins
Pinch of powdered saffron (I used turmeric as a less costly substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Bouquet garni (mine consisted of 1 stalk celery, 1 medium carrot, 1/2 medium white onion, all chopped, and two sprigs thyme—tied up in cheesecloth which was folded over just once)
Olive oil

1. Soak the golden raisins in 1 cup lukewarm water until they swell, then drain.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and toast, stirring frequently, until the grains become transparent.
3. Add 1 cup boiling water to saucepan, stirring to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan. Add saffron, salt and pepper, cayenne, and bouquet garni.
4. Return rice to a boil and then cover and simmer until rice is all the way cooked (about 20–30 minutes).
5. Preheat oven to 475. Slice the tops off the tomatoes (reserving tops) and remove pulp and seeds. Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt and then turn them upside down to drain in colander.
6. Once the rice has cooked, drain and cool before stirring in raisins. Taste and reseason as desired.
7. Dry the hollowed tomatoes and then drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil inside each tomato. Fill each tomato with mixture and then replace the sliced top.
8. In an ovenproof dish coated with oil, place each tomato, nestled closely together. Bake for about 15–20 minutes or until tomatoes have started to soften.
9. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kale Tabbouleh

Boy, I love a colorful dish. And it's a good thing that this was supposed to be served cooled, because I was photographing it till the sun went down. (That is not a figure of speech.)

It's cool. It's crunchy. And, wonderfully enough, it fits in with the vegetarianism I'll be trying for the next month. I'm hoping to re-inspire myself in the kitchen, and to spend some time getting more ambitious with ingredients. My ambition has fallen away!

Here we have a dish that's fairly simple: a little chop-chop-chop with the various ingredients, cook your quinoa and let it cool, and then toss it all in a simple dressing.

But the variety of ingredients and the hushed beauty of how they tumble across the's the perfect summer dish, I think. One you'll want to eat in the evening light with a chilly, crisp vino. Anyway I'm getting silly just staring at these colors again. Try it out for yourself!

Kale Tabbouleh (adapted from the glorious Food52)
Yield: 4–6 servings.

1/2 bunch curly kale
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup quinoa
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 Persian cucumbers, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
Juice from two limes
1/4 high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, wash the parsley and kale and pat dry. For each, chop off stems, then slice into 3/4-inch ribbons. Rotate bunch clockwise, then repeat process. Slice until greens are very finely diced, but do not form a paste.
3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. Add parsley and kale. Drizzle in lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add quinoa and toss until fully combined.
4. Serve!