Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer's Superfood for Dinner!

On the weekends, I look forward to a stop at a local farm stand or farmers market so I can pick up a few of “whatever looks good”. Saturdays are big cooking days for my household pretty much all year round.

After acupuncture I swung by Hayground Market in Bridgehampton and picked up a few items. A quart of concord grapes. A box of purple, ripe and juicy plums. 4 pounds of plum tomatoes. And, some yellow onions.

Tomatoes are a nutritious vegetable, high in Vitamins C and A and contain several antioxidants, including lycopene. Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that not only makes the skin of the tomato red but is a powerful and natural way to fight disease. Scientific research shows lycopene prevents free radicals in the body that can cause cancer and other nutrition-related diseases such as macular degeneration and heart disease.  Tomatoes cooked in oil contain more lycopene than raw tomatoes as lycopene is released in the cooking process and oil helps the body absorb it. 

After some research on the internet, scouring my cookbooks for some ideas, I came up with a few recipes that sparked my creative juices. Here's what I cooked. 

Roasted Tomato, Basil and Garlic in a Creamy Sauce for Fish

1 pound plum tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed “pizza” pepper (red pepper flakes)
1/2 stick butter
½ cup flour
1 to 2 cups tomato juice – preferably freshly squeezed or canned low sodium

Roasted vegetables
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove seeds and coarsely chop plum tomatos. Chop fresh basil. Combine all ingredients in 1-quart casserole. Bake until tomatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Sauce Base – a tomato flavored “roux”
Use a heavy metal pot and be careful not to burn. Melt one stick of butter over medium-low heat. Gradually add flour and stir continually. The roux will bubble at first then will get smooth as it cooks. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to turn a light brown color and the flour begins to cook. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Gradually add tomato juice and continue stirring. Keep adding juice until the sauce is tomato-y but still thick and creamy.

Serve over sauteed fluke or flounder (or try another flaky, white fish such as tilapia or cod).

Farmers Market Italian Style Casserole
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion - diced
1 medium eggplant – peeled and cut into bite sized pieces –about 2 cups
1-2 medium zucchini – cut into bite sized pieces – about 2 cups
1 red pepper - diced
3 tablespoons fresh oregano or oregano scented thyme - minced
½ lb mozzarella cheese – preferably fresh from your local cheese store or market sliced thin.

Dice onion and red pepper. Peel eggplant and cut into bit size pieces. Cut zucchiniHeat olive oil. Sautee vegetables in batches, set aside and cover to keep warm. Assemble casserole in an oven proof pan. Layer cheese on top to cover vegetables. Cook until piping hot and run under the broiler at the last minute to brown the cheese.

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