90 degrees, you say? Grill, here we come. A cornmeal and herb crusted pork loin made for an easy-peasy Saturday dinner. Plus, it employed generous amounts of POD’s thyme and parsley; PID’s (plants in den) rosemary; and POF’s (plants out front) sage.
And yes, that’s parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, in case you’re keeping track.
This bread salad (featuring POD’s own cilantro, parsley, Boothby Blonde, and True Lemon cucumbers) arrives courtesy of the amazing Casa Moro cookbook.
Of course, each bread salad is adapted to fit whatever ingredients happen to be on deck, but the spirit belongs to Moro.
1 pepper, roasted and peeled
3 c. bread, cut or ripped into small pieces
3 cucumbers, peeled and cubed
2 tbs parsley, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
1 tbs capers, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt (a mortar and pestle work great here)
1 tsp pan-roasted cumin seeds, roughly ground
1 1/2 tbs sweet, excellent quality balsamic vinegar
4 oz tomatoes (canned are okay, but fresh would probably be better), pureed into a juice.
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs argan oil (you can substitute some extra olive oil, but if you have a highly flavorful nutty oil, use it. This stuff ain’t cheap, but it’s oh-so-good.)
- Toss the bread onto a baking sheet and stick it in the oven (heated to 425) for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it until it’s lightly toasted.
- Slice the roasted red peppers into strips
- Mix the garlic paste with the cumin, vinegar, tomato puree. Whisk in the olive oil and argan oil. Whisk well. Taste for salt and pepper
- When your bread is toasty, transfer it to a large bowl and pour most of the dressing over it. Stir. Let it sit for a couple of seconds before adding the peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, and capers. Stir. Pour on the rest of the dressing, if desired.
- Yum. Yum.
That is, we’re approaching the shortest day of the year and the bits salvaged from the little blue deck are precious and few. So, let’s hear it for David Leite’s Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce. What a great excuse to snip what’s left of the parsley, Thai chilies, bay, and rosemary. Okay, so the bay and rosemary live a pampered indoor life these days, but still.
Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce, tomatada com ovos — adapted ever so slightly (POD’s minimal revisions in parentheses) from The New Portuguese Table, by David Leite.
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 large eggs
Fine seas salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices rustic bread, toasted (it helps immeasurably if you have a heavenly husband who bakes)
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1) Warm the tomato sauce is a small nonstick skillet, covered, over medium-high heat, until it’s bubbly and (very) hot, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, stir, and then make two wells in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each well and simmer, covered, until the eggs are cooked, 5 to 8 minutes.
2) To serve, lightly rub the toast with the garlic, drizzle with a thin thread of oil, and place on plates. Scoop an egg and some tomato sauce on top of each slice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Stick the remaining sauce in the freezer for a lazy day.)
Leite’s Tomatada (Tomato Sauce) — POD’s minimal revisions in parentheses
3 tbs olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons
2 sprigs (or more) fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Turkish bay leaf (or three)
3 sprigs rosemary (totally optional and probably entirely wrong, but who cares)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs very ripe tomatoes seeded and chopped, or one 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, chopped, juices reserved (it’s December, go for the San Marzano’s, please)
2 to 3 tbs double-concentrate tomato paste, to taste (2 tbs)
1 small fresh medium-hot red chili pepper, such as serrano, stemmed, seeded, and chopped — (or, 4 Thai chilies, chopped)
(honey, to taste — we found the sauce to be rather acidic and opted to do about two teaspoons worth of neutralizing)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, parsley, and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
2) Turn the heat to medium-low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste, and chili pepper, if using, and bring to a simmer. Cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30 minutes.
3) Toss out the parsley and bay leaf(ves and rosemary), and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper (and honey). If you wish, you can scrape the sauce into a food processor and buzz until smooth (peshaw). Store the sauce in the fridge in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week; it can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Christmas brought a nice little package from the Mother-In-Law. In it was a lovely December pick-me-up: parsley in a bag. Although that particular mid-winter experiment failed miserably (um, POD forgot about it during the week-long dark germination phase), POD had the foresight not to use all the seeds and planted the remainder on deck in late May.
To great success! After soaking the remaining seeds (about 8-12, if memory serves) in warm water overnight, then planting them in a shady area, and moving them (after germination) into the part-sun portion of the deck extension, they’ve been thriving. Most recently they were the star of this particular pantry meal:
Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds
2 cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, grated or very finely minced
14 oz plum tomatoes, (canned are fine) drained and chopped
1/8-1/4 tsp. sugar
generous pinch of saffron (40 threads or so)
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1/3 c. toasted almonds OR, even better, marcona almonds
1/4-1/2 c. flatleaf parsley, chopped
2 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1) Drain and rinse the chick peas
2) Heat olive oil over medium and saute the onion until it’s soft and nicely golden. About 30 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar, simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat
3) In a mortar, combine the garlic and salt and mix until a smooth garlic paste has formed. Add the saffron, almonds, and parsley to the garlic paste and grind to a thick paste.
4) Add the parsley mixture and chicken (or vegetable stock) to the onions and tomatoes. Return the mixture to a biol over medium-high and simmer until it has reduced to a thick sauce. About 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
Remember that chocolate cherry tomato that had been infested with banded winged whiteflies? It succumbed. Or, rather, in the interest of preserving the remaining produce on deck, it was sacrificed.
The last of the chocolate cherries were the centerpiece of this chimichurri-based pizza.
They will be missed.