Fresh Tomato Rocket Soup with Basil


The Oregon Food Bank Harvest Share gave huge bags of tomatoes. As soon as I saw the tomatoes I thought of making tomato soup with basil. They also gave out big bags of rocket, a peppery salad green that is wonderful as an accent and highlight in salad but a bit strong on its own. I thought it might make a good flavor accent in the soup. It worked.

This is a recipe that will make almost four quarts of soup, enough to freeze for later and enough for several servings. Enough to share with friends.

In terms of prep, do not worry about chopping things fine. I only cut the onions in quarters. After all, it’s all going to be pureed anyway.

Put a big stock pot with a cover on medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add 2 yellow onions. I cut into quarters, but you can dice if you like. Crush 6 cloves of garlic and toss in after the onions are nearly softened.

Toss in the bag of tomatoes, about four pounds or so. I poked the tomatoes with a knife just to make them release their liquid faster. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on top. It needs to fit tightly because I am not adding any water. Leave it to cook for 20-30 minutes and check. There should be plenty of liquid with no need for water or broth.

Add 1 cup of fresh basil and 2 cups of rocket. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid back on for another 10 minutes.

Let cool and puree with an immersion blender, regular blender or a Magic Bullet.

This makes a great tart, peppery tomato soup. The flavors are really rich and deep, with a lovely tang. I served with just a bit of fresh rocket on top. It keeps well because tomato is very acidic and there is no dairy in it.


Not a BLT Sandwich

Bacon, Roasted Pepper and Basil sandwich with Wheatberry Salad

So a friend posted this fabulous looking Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich the other day that made me want one so much. However, I only eat tomatoes when they are cooked or in an acidic dressing that breaks down whatever protein in raw tomatoes that I am allergic to, so BLTs are never on the menu. I decided, though, to try to make something that looked like a BLT.

So, for the red, I used a roasted red pepper. Now, if you have a bunch of red peppers, it’s easiest to roast them in the oven. But for just one, or in this case, just one slice of red pepper, it’s easier to roast it using your stove top burners. And yes, you can do it with an electric burner. Think of it as a game show and the smoke alarm is the buzzer, you want to turn your exhaust up on high. Using tongs, place the pepper directly on the burner turned up to high. It will begin to char and then the trick is to turn before it bursts into flame – kind of like roasting marshmallows. If it does burst into flame, just pull it off the burner and blow it out. It’s a good idea to remove any towels or paper towels from the counter by the stove before cooking the peppers just in case you are are easily startled and drop the pepper on the counter. If you keep a keen eye on the roasting, though, it won’t flame up, but even if it does, it’s simple to blow it out. The trick is to simply be calm, this is easier than roasting marshmallows since there’s no gummy, drippy stuff to drip onto the burner. Let it cool and peel the charred outer skin off. It should remove easily.

Then I cut three pieces of bacon in half. Two might have been enough, but I was making a generous sandwich. I put them in an iron skillet on med high to fry. Meanwhile, I cut a ciabatta bun in half and toasted it.

I took 1 small clove of garlic and minced it and stirred it into some mayo to spread on the bun. I washed and dried some fresh basil leaves and spread them on one side of the bun and placed the roasted red pepper on the other. I let the finished bacon drip dry on some paper towel and placed it on the bun.

I served with the wheatberry salad I like to make. I used a small bowl for the salad because I hate when salad dressing seeps over onto my bun.

Okay, this sandwich is dangerously delicious. Basil and garlic mayonnaise? Roasted red pepper? Honestly, it almost does not need the bacon! Almost!

Pork Loin Bruschetta with Basil-Feta Farfalle


This is super easy and about 15 minutes from start to finish. First I heated my iron skillet to medium with a TBSP of olive oil. I took a pork tenderloin and laid it in the skillet to cook. Then I sliced off a 1/4 inch or thinner slice off a medium yellow onion and chopped it fine. I also minced on large clove of garlic. I took half the garlic and all the onion and added it to the skillet, away from the pork loin chop and let is saute in the oil.

Meanwhile, I put on a kettle of water to boil on high.

I chopped one mushroom into small pieces and added that to the skillet. While it cooked, I chopped up one small tomato and added it. By now, the water was boiling so I added 1/2 of dried farfalle pasta.

While it boiled, I turned the tenderloin to cook on the other side, added salt and pepper and continued to watch and stir the onions/mushrooms/tomatoes mix.

I took two large leaves of basil and rolled them up like a cigarette and cut them in very thin strips (chiffonade). By now the loin chop was done, so I put it on the plate to rest.

The farfalle cooks quickly so I tested it for doneness a few times and removed as soon as it was tender. I added 1 tsp of olive oil, the half a clove of minced garlic I saved back from the skillet, stirred that in with and oz of crumbled feta and the chiffonade basil. I dished that up on the plate next to the pork and then put the bruschetta mix (which is usually put on bread and baked) and spread that on top of the loin chop.

The flavors all work beautifully together. The pasta with the basil and feta has a sharp, bright flavor. The pork loin with the bruschetta is hearty and full of umami savoriness. Mixing the bruschetta with the pasta is a delight.

Lamb Stew

Lamb Stew

Grab your stock pot and put 1 TBSP of olive oil on the bottom and put on medium heat. Add one onion, chopped, and 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Let cook until tender, toss in 1 cardamom pod, crushed and chopped fine. Toast in the oil before adding a small lamb shank (about 1 pound). Brown the lamb shank on each side and then add 2 quarts of water, 2 small cans of chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes) and cover and bring to a boil. Toss in 2 bay leaves and reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for an hour or more until lamb falls off the bone.

Meanwhile, chop up 1 pound of potatoes into 1 inch cubes and snap 1 pound of fresh green beans. When the lamb is tender, remove from the pot and let cool. Add the potatoes and green beans and allow that to cook while you remove the lamb from the bone and cut into 1 inch pieces for the stew. Add the meat back in along with 1/2 of freshly grated nutmeg and 1 TBSP of turmeric.

This is a very aromatic stew, with a savory blend of meat and potatoes set off by the sweetness of tomatoes and the bright heat of cardamom and nutmeg all held together with the deep flavor of turmeric.

You can take fresh basil leaves and roll them into a cigar and chiffonade the basil to sprinkle on top of the stew when you serve. That’s completely optional. You can also add a dollop of sour cream if you like.

This makes 8 to 10 servings so you will have to store in the fridge for later meals.

Chicken & Pear Salad

Chicken & Pear Salad

I chopped up 5 almonds and put them on a dry skillet to toast.

Into a large salad bowl, I added the following ingredients:

  • 4 leaves from a head of butter lettuce, washed and tore into medium size pieces.
  • Thinly sliced pieces of cucumber off one end of a cuke, about 1.5 inches of slices.
  • 2 TBSP of diced red pepper.
  • 1/4 of Anjou pear, cut one into pieces.
  • 2 oz of cold chicken, sliced.
  • 3 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 oz of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 TBSP or so of dried cranberries

I mixed  together and squeezed a bit of fresh lemon on top, added 1 tsp of olived oil, a bit of fresh ground pepper, salt and then tossed the toasted almonds on top.

It’s a fabulous blend of fresh lettuce and cucumber, tart lemon,  cranberries and basil with sweet pear and red pepper, sharp feta, hearty chicken and of course, the high notes of toasted almonds to bring it all home.

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup & Turkey Burger

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup & Turkey Burger

In sauce pan, add 1 TBSP of olive oil, 2 garlic gloves and 1/4 cup of yellow onion, chopped. Salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Meanwhile chop up 2 tomatoes and toss in and cook until they start breaking down. Add 1/4 of chopped fresh basil and ream a lemon into the pan. Add about 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer and let cook down. Add salt and pepper. Puree and serve.

At the same time as you add the basil, heat a skillet to medium and make a patty with ground turkey flavored with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. I added some pepper jack when I turned it over. Toasted a ciabatta bun, and made a burger with some mayo, mustard, lettuce and the patty. I sliced it in half to make it easier to eat.

Modavia Fresh Tomato Soup and Fennel Cabbage Slaw

Modavia Tomato Soup and Fennel Cabbage Slaw

I am calling this Modavia Fresh Tomato Soup because I made it while watching a show during Modavia Fashion Week. It was super easy to make. I tossed a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan with some a half an onion and a clove of garlic, chopped. After the onion softened, I added three tomatoes cut in big chunks and 1 cup of water. When they broke down, I added 1 cup of fresh basil, chopped, and put a lid on for 15 minutes. I tossed it in my Magic Bullet and pureed. It made one bowl of soup.

The Fennel Slaw recipe is from Jeff Mauro’s Sandwich King show on Food Networkm except he included parsley which I left out. I don’t much like parsley.

  • 1 1/2 cups red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced, save fronds for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper