Roma Tomato Marinara

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Roma Tomato Marinara! Now here is a sauce that is as versatile as your food cravings. I like to make up a jar to keep on hand in the refrigerator. You never know when you’ll want it. Roma tomatoes have a texture that leaves your mouth yearning for yet another spoonful. Slather it on flatbread and add cheese for a late-night snack. Or use it as a base in a skillet lasagna. The balance of thick tomatoes, rich olive oil, and hint of basil make it my favorite for dunking buttery breadsticks. For kid-pleasing families as well as empty nesters, say “Yes” to homemade marinara.

ROMA TOMATO MARINARA

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, whole and peeled in basil sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder*

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions:

In an iron skillet over medium heat, warm two tablespoons olive oil. Add chopped onions and sauté until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add Italian tomatoes. Gently, using the back of a wooden spoon, press the tomatoes to crush. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, Herbes de Provence, sea salt, cracked black pepper, agave nectar, and one teaspoon olive oil. Stir to blend. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes on Simmer or until sauce becomes thicker. Spoon over pasta, chicken, meatballs, or bread. Top with cheese of choice.

*Four minced garlic cloves may be substituted for garlic powder.

X-tra Virgin Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: X-tra Virgin Olive Oil Dipping Sauce! It’s no secret I’m a bread-lover. Just like chocolate, wine, and cheese….the key is moderation. I look to the French culture for validation. Their motto seems to be “use quality ingredients and fresh foods” for the best flavor. And I believe it. During my visit to Paris and the south of France, I noticed open markets everywhere and held often. Preservatives are pretty much absent. Nutrition rules. Grow an herb garden. Crush dried herbs to release flavor. That being said, go ahead and reach for the bread basket, just don’t eat the whole thing!

X-TRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL DIPPING SAUCE

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon parsley

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

Bakery baguette, sliced

Instructions:

Pour olive oil into a measuring cup. Add garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil, and kosher salt. Whisk to blend flavors. Add parmesan cheese. Stir. Marinate at room temperature for one hour to enhance flavors. Stir and pour onto a plate or shallow bowl. “Dot” oil with balsamic vinegar. Serve with baguette bread.

Egg and Sweet Potato Boats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Egg & Sweet Potato Boats! Breakfast just got more interesting. And so did you. Because today, this Paleo breakfast may leave you feeling like a superhero, “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. It not only gives you a nutrient-rich vegetable, it also provides protein in the animal form of bacon and eggs! That fact alone ups your intake of vitamins and minerals without leaving you feeling meh and bloated. Digestion improves as energy levels rise, which leaves me asking one final question: Which superhero are you?

EGG & SWEET POTATO BOATS

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, halved, washed and patted dry

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Sriracha, to taste

Fresh oregano, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Once the sweet potatoes have been washed and patted dry, rub skins with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and place cut side down in a shallow pan that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Bake for about one hour, or until tender. Remove sweet potatoes from oven. With tongs, flip sweet potatoes over so skin side is down. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the center to form a well for one egg. Crack an egg into each sweet potato boat. Return pan to oven; bake 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Remove from oven. Crumble bacon over top. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves. Serve warm.

Heirloom Tomato Cheese Tart

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Heirloom Tomato Cheese Tart! The secret is in the cheese. I’m a fanatic when it comes to gourmet cheeses. I like the idea of something different and can often imagine the skilled cheesemakers concocting special blends with creamy textures, dried herbs, buttery hints, and natural aging. This cheese in particular has the qualities of cheddar and gruyère giving it a complex buttery nut flavor. Is it any wonder the earthy garden tomatoes pair so well with it. Some might say it’s on its way to becoming a time-honored tradition.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO CHEESE TART

Ingredients:

2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon kosher salt

I sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 pound gourmet pesto cheese, grated

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

Olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions:

Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow to rest for 20 minutes to release juices. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a 10”x13” rectangle. Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a paring knife, lightly trace a shallow border one inch from the edge. Do not cut through. Prick the inner rectangle all over with a fork. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Bake until lightly golden, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven. Scatter cheese over dough, stopping at the perforated edge. Arrange large and small tomatoes over top. Scatter chopped oregano over tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Artichoke Chicken Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Artichoke Chicken Flatbread! Marinated artichoke hearts are a luxury worth savoring. Let me repeat myself: Marinated artichoke hearts are a luxury worth savoring. Now that I’ve said it twice, tuck those words into your memory banks. The next time you go shopping for groceries, grab a jar off the shelf. Don’t worry, it won’t go to waste. For some reason, artichokes taste like a summer day, standing barefoot under a canopy of shade trees overlooking a babbling brook. Invigorating. Vivacious. And stimulating. Think about all the ways you can serve artichoke hearts: in dips, as appetizers, on charcuterie boards, roasted with veggies, or straight out of the jar. Just wait until you try them on flatbread.

ARTICHOKE CHICKEN FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/3 cup prepared ranch dressing

1 1/2 cup Italian cheeses, shredded

1/2 cup grilled chicken strips, precooked and cut into chunks

1/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

2 tablespoons red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons sweet onion, chopped

Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil on the bottom of the flatbread. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Spread ranch dressing over top of flatbread. Sprinkle with one cup of shredded Italian cheeses. Arrange grilled chicken chunks, marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, green peppers, and sweet onions over all. Add remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and deeply golden around the edges. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving.

Ramping Up Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Ramping Up Breakfast! For a hearty and satisfying way to jumpstart your morning, think outside the box with sautéed ramps. Prepared in minutes with hardly anytime at the stove, you’ll be serving up a “green” feast fit for a king. If you live in the country where farm fresh eggs are as plentiful as the next roadside produce stand, even better. Treat yourself to a scrumptious weekend meal on the back porch in true farmhouse style.

RAMPING UP BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

1/4 pound wild ramps

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

2 smoked sausage links

2 pieces artisan bread, toasted

Crushed oregano, for garnish

Instructions:

Wash thoroughly every crevice and leaf stem of each ramp. Cut off and discard bulb roots. Rinse again. Gently pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Warm olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer ramps to the skillet. Cook until tender and crispy, gently turning. After 10 minutes, divide ramps between two plates. Cook eggs according to personal preference. Add to each plate. Heat smoked sausage, slicing open to sear. Arrange on plates. Butter toast to complete each breakfast plate. Garnish ramps and eggs with crushed oregano. Serve immediately.

Flatbread Gone Wild

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Flatbread Gone Wild! Have you ever peeked through the window on the oven door while food is baking? Of course you have. Everyone does. The surprise you’ll find when baking wild ramps is the leaves puff up as though filling with air like a balloon animal at a child’s birthday party. It’s fun to see and totally unexpected. They almost seem to take on a life of their own. If you’re worried about the leaves popping, take a cake tester and pierce them beforehand, just to be sure. Personally, I like to roast wild ramps long enough to char the edges for a subtle hint of smokiness.

FLATBREAD GONE WILD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 cup marinara sauce

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 pound wild ramps, washed and patted dry

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush the bottom of the flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake for 5 minutes on a pizza stone. Remove from oven, brush the top of the crust with olive oil. Spread on the marinara sauce, stopping before the edges. Layer mozzarella cheese over sauce. Arrange wild ramps lengthwise over cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt and crushed oregano. Bake 20 minutes until the cheese bubbles and the edges are crisp.

Xanadu Pasta Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Xanadu Pasta Salad! At first glance, this may appear as a five-minute throw-together meal. Think again. In actuality, the magic begins once half the ingredients are combined and tucked away in the refrigerator for a couple days to marinate. At this point, the pasta actually transforms into a gourmet dish you are likely to have tasted at a family-owned sandwich shoppe or small town deli. One forkful may leave you wondering if this is all a dream. Is that music I hear in the background? Xanadu. Quickly, store those thoughts in your memory bank. I have no doubt you’ll return there for more.

XANADU PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

16 ounces vermicelli spaghetti pasta

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 pint red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

8 ounces small mozzarella balls, halved

1 teaspoon crushed oregano

Fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions:

Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Combine cooked pasta, kosher salt, seasoned salt, lemon juice, and vegetable oil. Pour mixture into a gallon ziplock bag. Refrigerate for two days, turning a couple times to marinate flavors. Then pour seasoned pasta into a large bowl. Spoon in red and yellow cherry tomatoes. Add small mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with crushed oregano. Gently toss. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wild Ramps Charbroiled

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Wild Ramps Charbroiled! Whether you stumble upon this coveted crop at your neighborhood Farmers Market, or are fortunate enough to forage them yourself, wild ramps are as rare as hens teeth. You better have a plan. Unless you pickle them or freeze them, the best you can hope for is a 4-5 day shelf life in the refrigerator. At that point they will begin to deteriorate, develop an offensive odor, and you will have lost your window of opportunity for the year. Practice sustainable harvest. Never take more than you intend to eat.

WILD RAMPS CHARBROILED

Ingredients:

1/2 pound wild ramps

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Wash thoroughly every crevice and leaf stem of each ramp. Cut off and discard bulb roots. Rinse again. Gently pat dry with paper towels. Transfer ramps to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Arrange ramps in a single layer, alternating ends and extending leaves to lay flat. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and crushed oregano. Bake until bulbs are tender golden, leaves have shrunk, and several spots are charred. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Leftover ramps maybe crushed into a topping for sprinkling over Wild Ramp Bacon Chowder.*

*Follow the link for Wild Ramp Bacon Chowder

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