Monday, August 17, 2009

1 - Tomato...2-Tomatoes...3 - Tomatoes...More...

Sonoma County started out cool this summer; unseasonably cool. My corn crop failed to thrive, my tomatoes refused to ripen, only the squash was happy with the weather; it was prolific, giving me more squash then I knew what to do with. Sad too, that even put out in front of the house, with a FREE sign, there were no takers.

Well now my tomatoes have finally started to ripen, and ripen and more and more. And while squash doesn't freeze well, tomatoes do, and sauces can be made and frozen to be served all winter long. But while I have these fresh, delicious heirloom tomatoes, I'm going to use them in as many ways as I can. So low in calories, and high in Lycopene, they are a super-food.

This recipe uses fresh tomatoes in the summer months, but if it's winter I would recommend canned tomatoes. Those things you buy in the grocery store all year long have no flavor at all.

Most recipes that call for peeled tomatoes tell you to plunge them into a pot of boiling water, but I find that starts to cook the tomato, this is a way that will ensure an easy to peel tomato, that is still full of flavor. Stick a fork into the stem end of the tomato, hold over the open flame or heating element on your stove, turn slowly so the skin pops; allow it to cool for a few minutes; peel the skin off. To seed it, cut it in half horizontally (across the equator so to speak)and squeeze gently, use your fingers to remove any lingering seeds.

Added plus, this recipe can be put together in 30 minutes or less.

Chicken Pasta "Stir Fry"
Makes 6 Servings

1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenders if you did your own cut up chicken and have some) cut into slices or bite sized pieces
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup white wine*
1 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced tomatoes, peeled and seeded
8 ounce fresh spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the chicken and saute about 5 minutes; add the onion and bell pepper, continue to cook for another 10 minutes, the vegetables should be soft. Stir in the seasonings then add the wine; allow the wine to reduce by about half; add the chicken broth; bring to a simmer then add the pasta, tomatoes and spinach. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes and pasta is heated through. Spoon into warm bowls and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Per Serving: 446 Calories; 5g Fat (1g Sat); 31g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 331mg Sodium.

LindySez: I use a lot of wine when I cook, I usually have some left over from a meal and use that; or even combine a couple of bottles together, as long as they are the same varietal it's all good. You should use either a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc for this dish. As it cooks, the alcohol burns off so it's safe for the kids; but if you do not want to cook with wine, eliminate it and add another 1/2 cup chicken broth. Do not, I repeat, do not under ANY circumstance buy or use anything called "Cooking Wine"'s horrid stuff and should be outlawed. You may, however, buy a non-alcohol wine such as Fre, Ariel or Vandalia.

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