Herbtastic Pork

parsley sage rosemary and thyme90 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.

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Herby Endings

parsley, rosemary, bay, thai chiliesWell, folks, POD 2009’s days are nearing the end.

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
Olive Oil

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.)

David Leite's eggs simmered in tomato sauceLeite’s Eggs Simmered in Tomato Sauce

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.

Pesto alla POD

Here’s a super easy (truly, it is) weekday meal that puts your over-producing herbs and under-producing (but adequate) Tumbling Tom and Gold Nugget cherry tomatoes to good use.

Serves 2 — preparation time appx. 20 minutes

Tumbling Tom and Gold Nugget Cherry Tomatoes
Tumbling Tom and Gold Nugget Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Handful of almonds, lightly toasted (maybe a 1/4 or so) and chopped

1/2 c. fresh herbs (tarragon, rosemary, and thyme), chopped
OR 3/4 c. fresh basil, if you want to be a little more traditional

1 clove garlic, chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

10-15 cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper

8 oz. spaghettini or capellini

parmigiano-reggiano, grated

Directions
1) Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, add a generous dash or four of salt to the water.
2) While you’re waiting for the water to boil, stick the almonds, herbs (or basil), garlic, and red-pepper flakes in a blender (or a food processor, if you own one) and blend until chunky. Drizzle in about 1/4 c. olive oil until pureed, but still chunky. Add the cherry tomatoes and process until incorporated. The sauce should look a little like a bolognese — thick, rich-looking, and yellowish/reddish/orange. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Boil the pasta. Just before it’s done, scoop about about 3 tbs of the cooking water and dump it into a large bowl. Drain the pasta.
4) Scoop the sauce into the large bowl that contains your cooking water. Stir until smooth and the water is incorporated.
5) Add the hot pasta and toss until it’s coated. Serve. Top with cheese.